Monthly Archives: December 2012

The key to the door :)

The key to the door :)

After a week at Man’s house, I returned home on Thursday to spend a festive day with Pud on Friday.

But I couldn’t resist the opportunity of stopping at a couple of Churches Conservation Trust churches on the way.

I selected two, one that had a keyholder nearby and one that was open daily.

Now, other than the other day when the key to St Werburgh’s was at the Derby Museum, I have never knocked on someone’s door and asked to borrow the key before, thinking it was a bit of an imposition. But I thought I’d give it a go.

St Lawrence's Church, Broughton, Buckinghamshire.

St Lawrence’s Church, Broughton, Buckinghamshire.

On the door of St Lawrence’s Church was a note giving the address of two keyholders, both not far from the church. The first wasn’t in, at the second someone answered the door.

I apologized for bothering them and asked if I could borrow the key to the church. They asked if there was still a big red sign on the door saying the church was closed and I said there wasn’t.

Apparently someone had nicked the lead from the church roof and the water had got in. It had been cleaned up by a couple of local builders and some community volunteers but the couple weren’t sure whether it had opened again.

Luckily, when they heard I had driven from Nottingham, they happily handed over the key to the door (which went in upside down and turned the opposite way to normal).

This rural church is less than half a mile from the M1. It is medieval in origin with changes and additions. It’s a nice looking church from the outside, but inside …


Just look at those wall paintings.


This one is a scene of St George and the Dragon.

010bThis one is of St Helena and St Eligius. She was the mother of the Emperor Constantine who is believed to have discovered the base of the cross Jesus died on. She died in 330. He was the patron saint of farriers and blacksmiths. Underneath him are pictures of keys, locks and horseshoes.

These amazing paintings originate from the 15th century when they were created to teach people who couldn’t read and write. They were plastered over in the 16th century and uncovered in a restoration in 1849. They were conserved in 1932 and again in 1990.

My pictures don’t do them justice, they are beautiful.

This church is also famous for two ancient books, one from 1632 and one from 1567. They are padlocked to wooden desks in the chancel arch. Sadly they were also wrapped in plastic to avoid rain damage after the lead theft and I didn’t want to unwrap them.

After returning the key to the nice couple down the road, I moved on to church number two, St Mary’s in Pottesgrove, Bedfordshire.

Now when I left Broughton my satnav told me I was going about 10 miles and it was going to take me 45 minutes. I couldn’t understand why.

With 4.5 miles to go, the journey was still going to take me more than half an hour. I was confused.

Then, 1.5 miles away, the satnav spoke. “You have reached the nearest navigable point to your destination, please park your car and walk.”

“No, there’s a single track road to my right that says Pottesgrove and I’m going to drive up it.”

Turns out my satnav lies. The road is gated and has a couple of cattle grids up it but it is perfectly easy to drive up to the gates of St Mary’s Church, Pottesgrove (niw commonly spelt Potsgrove) and park outside.


Here it is. It’s got a funny little tower and around to the right, there is a row of gravestones, side by side leading all the way from the entrance porch to another gate.

048b 046bI loved the faces either side of the other door. There are ancient ones, quite eroded, on the other side of the church. These ones are Victorian.

Although it dates from the early 14th century, it was remodeled in the 19th century by the Arts & Craft architect John Dando Snedding (that’s a great name). He put that funny little spire on it (which the CCT website describes as a rocket-shaped spirelet), and the statue of the Virgin Mary on the front.

The altar has some lovely painted panels.

035bAnd I found another little quirky door, I really like these. Who fits through a door like this? I’m looking down on it and I don’t quite scrape 5ft2″.


The tiles were pretty cool too.

So there’s another two churches, I can’t see me getting to any more before the new year… although I do still have more than 300 to go so maybe if I can persuade Man that a festive trip to an out-of-service church is in order, who knows?

Elsewhere in Dory’s World, this week is the busiest week of the year at work, double deadlines because of the days off next week. So the rest of the week’s post may be a little briefer.

Do you know what I did yesterday?

You’re never going to guess.

I sat down and wrote out a list of all the churches on the Churches Conservation Trust list with keyholder information and post codes and opening times where they were specified so I can print it out and keep it in my car.

Yes, I know, I’m getting a little obsessed.

I also found some pictures of the church that started it all.

Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. Years ago I was the editor of a local paper in a town called Esher and I was invited to an event at St George’s Church. That was looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust but I didn’t think much more about it.

Then Man and I were in York for a day or two and we were wandering through the shopping area of Goodramgate when we came across a little alley way. Now I like arches, alleyways, doors and I’m always curious to know what’s behind them.

There was a sign on this one saying Historic Church. So I walked down between Poundland and whatever was the other side and found this.

035bModern buildings either side, artisan workshops from the 14th century, an 18th century archway and then the medieval church of Holy Trinity tucked into this quiet little oasis of a churchyard that seems a million miles from the town centre.

I went inside for a closer look and discovered that this little gem of a building was also cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust and it sparked my interest.

This was also the first place I came across box pews and, although I have seen them many times now, I still think they are weird. I really think the congregation ought to have been looking towards the altar and the preacher and not facing the opposite direction. They could have been smirking when he was preaching hellfire and damnation for all he knew.

044bThe church is mainly 15th century but 12th century foundations remain. From the outside you can see the wear and tear on the architecture over the years.

Inside, the floors are all uneven and there are steps here and there.

040bI liked the iron work dotted about.

Now these photos were taking in July this year on Man and my last trip to York. This was before I had invented my Fifty before Fifty Challenge and therefore before I had made a decision to go and see all these churches.

I am finding already that my visits have a different intent now. When I visited Holy Trinity in July, I went because it’s a pretty church, tucked away from the crowds and I have always liked religious buildings.

Now, when I visit one of the Churches Conservation Trust Churches I want to know the history, I want to track down a quirky fact, I want to know why this building is different and what made it worth saving. I want to know who used it, who preached in it, and I want photographs that aren’t going to be the same as the photographs I took at the last 25 churches I visited. I want history, I want art and I want story-telling.

Holy Trinity has this to make it stand out.


The windows are beautiful. And the thing I like best about this church is that you sort of get the feeling that you have discovered a secret treasure that no one else knows about.

Anyway, despite the face that I went to visit it before I started my Fifty before Fifty Challenge, I intend to count it. Firstly because I have been there, and I have photographic evidence that I have been there, and secondly because in writing out my list of churches yesterday I discovered that there are now 343 on the list and not 342.

When did that happen?

I must pay close attention to this because if, during the next 2.8 years, there are more added I could think I have completed my task when actually I haven’t.

I didn’t even consider new ones may be added :). I am now racing against time and additions lol.

002bI returned home from Man’s on Thursday to find the Christmas elves had been.

The gorgeous daughters absolutely love Christmas and had blitzed the house from top to bottom and turned it into Santa’s Grotto.

001bThis is a double self portrait with baubles lol.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the festive season and I am certainly grateful for the tidiness of the house and the fact that they bought the Christmas tree themselves.

However …

You can take things a little far.

020bThe girls left John, gorgeous daughter number one’s boyfriend, in charge while they drove to commandeer a saw from their grandfather. I don’t think John has quite got the hang of paper chains!

021bAll the pictures on the walls of my lounge have been ‘decorated’ … well, they’ve been wrapped with wrapping paper and adorned with tinsel. Apparently they look better that way.

022bAnd even the hoover is now sporting a festive hat.

There are elegantly wrapped presents under the tree already (I thought Father Christmas brought those), adorned with ribbons and bows.

The trouble is, the monster that is Marv the terrible (cat) doesn’t like ribbons and bows and keeps chewing them into pieces. He does this with helium filled balloons on ribbons too, chews straight through the ribbon so the balloon ends up floating on the ceiling.

So I went for the ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ approach and on Friday Pud (gorgeous daughter number 2) and I did a little baking.

photo (5)


Rudolph cupcakes :) We saw the idea on the BBC Good Food website.

Basic chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing, white and red icing for eyes and nose and they used pretzels for the antlers. We used chopped up curly wurlys – much more fun :)

Having Christmassed up the house, gorgeous daughter number one and John have now taken themselves off to Lapland for four days for the full snowy, festive experience.

This sadly involved me getting up at 3am to drive them to Gatwick Airport this morning.

If they get to see the Northern Lights I am going to be very jealous :)






Sometimes you visit somewhere that is just full of things you want to tell people about and so, although I have already waxed lyrical about Derby, its amazing car park, the town centre and the lovely St Werburgh’s Church, there is one more thing I want to show you.


Derby Cathedral.

It’s a very welcoming place. I suppose you would expect that of any religious building. But in my experience you are often charged to get into a cathedral (Lincoln, Winchester, York Minster). Not in Derby.

It is smaller than some I have visited. It is just as beautiful though.

069bIt has a beautiful ceiling and in this picture you can see the Rood Screen made by Robert Bakewell, the same guy who created the font cover at St Werburgh’s.

071bI thought this was an interesting memorial. What else would you use for the man who made Royal Crown Derby Porcelain renowned but porcelain. But I’m not sure I have ever seen a porcelain memorial before.

076bThis is a memorial to Bess of Hardwick, one of the most influential and richest women in Elizabethan England and the woman who built Hardwick Hall and remodeled Chatsworth House.

She came from a good family but her wealth came from marriages. She married four times, each husband died and each left her a good percentage, if not all, of his wealth.

She was a force to be reckoned with.

074bUnderneath Bess’s memorial is this tiny little chapel, St Katharine’s Chapel. It is a place for quiet contemplation.

There has been a church on this site since around 943, but nothing of that remains now. The current cathedral dates from the 14th century and the tower from 1510-1530.

According to Wikipedia, the cathedral contains the oldest ring of ten bells in the UK, the 15th century tenor bell being older than the tower that houses it.

There are much newer additions to the cathedral, however.

075bThese stained glass windows are by the 20th century artist Ceri Richards, They are absolutely gorgeous.

084bThere are some interesting memorials and monuments in Derby Cathedral and it is well worth a visit.

I find religious buildings very atmospheric. they were setting up for a concert in the cathedral while we were there. I think I’d like to see a concert in a cathedral.

I’d also like to have a go at bell-ringing, just for fun you know. But I think I probably ought to wait until after the operation for my umbilical hernia before I attempt that lol.

Anyway, you will probably be relieved to know that that’s it for Derby, at least for the time being.

Man and I plan to return again when it’s a bit warmer and have more of an explore.

veryinspiringblogawardThank you so much to Ana Ela over at The Habitual Runaway for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger award. I’m extremely flattered.

The rules for accepting the award are as follows;

Display the award logo, link back to the person who nominated you, state 7 things about yourself, nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.

So let’s start with seven random things about me.

1) I have a bizarre inability to get food from a plate to my mouth without dropping it down myself. As I get older, I can only see this getting worse.

2) I once played the front end of a pantomime cow on stage – we even danced :)

3) At a public event as a child, I got separated from my parents and found the Lost Children’s tent. When they asked me if I was lost, I said: “No, my parents are – I know exactly where I am.”

4) My dad was a rocket scientist and as a kid I lived on the rocket range in Woomera, South Australia, while he worked on the European Space Programme.

5) I think Stargate SG1 is the most amazing programme combining my love of technology, history and mythology.

6) I used to be able to strip down a car engine quite happily. Now you have to plug cars into computers, I can’t fix them anymore.

7) My kids started calling me Cottonheadedninnymuggins a few years ago. This gets shortened to Muggins, Muggs, Mugwan and various others. I drew the line, however, at Chicken McMuggin and refused to answer.

There are so many blogs that inspire me but, in no particular order, here are some I never miss reading.

Wostamandu’s Blog 

Retiree Diary

Lucy Williams Poetry

Karmic Diva

Paula Acton

Focused Moments

Cosy Travels of the Viking and his Kitten

Leanne Cole Photography



Religious Buildings

Atelier c157

Colourless City

Images of China through English Eyes

A Photo a Day


St Werburgh's Church, Derby.

St Werburgh’s Church, Derby.

One of the reasons for the visit to Derby on Wednesday was to visit another Churches Conservation Trust Church for my Fifty before Fifty Challenge. Let’s face it, as the countdown clock on my blog has ticked down to 2.8 years until I’m 50, I’m going to have to go some to fit them all in.

There are only two of these churches in Derbyshire and St Werburgh’s is in the Cathedral Quarter of Derby.

The key is held at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery and is huge.


Now I’d never heard of St Werburgh … and was quite surprised to find out she was a woman. She was a nun, daughter of the King of Mercia and she died in 699. She is the patron saint of Chester and her feast day is on February 3. Around ten churches across the country are dedicated to her.


This isn't St Werburgh, it's a memorial inside the church.

This isn’t St Werburgh, it’s a memorial inside the church.

Only the tower and the chancel of the church remain in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, the rest of the building is in commercial use.

It was really dark in there so, unfortunately, I had to fire off the flash because I hadn’t taken the tripod.


There were memorials all over the walls and it looked as though they had been gathered up from other parts of the church and stored in here.

Now this church’s claim to fame is that the renowned writer and lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson, of dictionary fame, was married here in 1735. He married a widow Elizabeth ‘Tetty’ Porter with three children who, at 46, was 21 years his senior.

Dr Johnson is an interesting character. Credited with being ‘the most distinguished man of letters in English history,’ he also had tics and gestures, which made people view him differently and led to a posthumous diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome. He is most famous for his Dictionary of the English Language. It took him nine years to complete and, although it wasn’t the first, it was the most commonly used until it was usurped by the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later.

But apart from the link with the man of letters, what is special about St Werburgh’s Church is the ironwork it contains.

004bI have never seen a pulpit like this before and it looked amazing.

005bAnd this font cover is absolutely beautiful.

It was made by Robert Bakewell (1682-1752), who also made the Rood Screen at Derby Cathedral, which we went o see later. He was paid £12 for it.

So this was church 24 of the 342 I have challenged myself to go and see. In addition I visited two before I started this little challenge (but only have photographic evidence of one, so the other doesn’t count) and I added another two yesterday on my way back down south.

So, that will be 317 to go then … I’ll keep you posted :)