Archive

challenge

019bThis is the church of St Lawrence at Snarford in Lincolnshire. Pretty unimposing from the outside.

It’s one of the Churches Conservation Trust churches I am visiting as part of my Fifty before Fifty challenge.

One of the things I like about this little journey I am on is that there is a surprise behind every door, you really never know what you are going to find inside these redundant buildings and this one really is special.

Snarford (once spelled Snertesford) means Snortr’s ford, so home of a Viking called Snortr at a ford across the Barlings Eau then.

The village is listed in the Doomsday Book, where it is documented that there were 16 families living in the village. This church is later than the 1086 Doomsday survey though, probably built in the 12th century, it had extensive refurbishment in the 14th century.

The village is long since disappeared. Another lost medieval village. Reaching its height in the early Middle Ages, Charles Knightly, in his booklet for the Churches Conservation Trust, says the village seems to have gone into decline in Tudor times and may have been almost deserted when Snarford Hall was built. The Hall has now also vanished but a lovely informative tourism board has been placed by the church by Lincolnshire County Council. Now only the church and Hall Farm remain of the old village.

040bAs I’ve said, the outside is pretty unassuming, I found an interesting bricked up door though. I like doors, even bricked up ones.

But this church is actually spectacular … and the reasons are inside.

030b

This incredible six-poster monument is the tomb of Sir Thomas St Paul (also spelled St Poll and Smapoll) and his wife. Owner of Snarford Hall, Sir Thomas was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I, he was MP for Grimsby and a Sheriff of Lincolnshire. His wife was Faith Grantham who was descended from a fine Lincolnshire lineage herself.

The tomb is covered in heraldry, it is brash and colourful and the effigies are life sized.

031b

 

The detail is amazing. One the top of the monument are the couple’s children and around it an inscription reads “Here lies Thomas St Poll, knight, who died on the 29th August AD 1582, in the twenty-fourth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and rests in Christ. Reader, you see what I am, you know what I have been. Consider what you yourself must be.” Apparently he was quite pious.

His son and heir was Sir George who died in 1613. Not to be outdone, Sir George has his own tomb in the church.

028bHere he is, with his wife Frances Wray. He looks a bit rakish to me but apparently he was also a religious man.

This slightly ridiculous pose has been dubbed ‘the toothache pose’. I like that. The tomb is an absolute work of art but their pose is a bit ridiculous. I wonder if they planned it before their deaths and thought this a cool and more modern arrangement than mum and dad lying flat on their backs with their hands clasped in prayer.

Or maybe they had no say and a descendant thought this an appropriate memorial to the couple.

036b

 

Beneath the couple is an effigy of their only child Mattathia (unusual name) who died before her second birthday. Frances never really got over the grief.

The monuments are impressive, certainly, and really unexpected in this small parish and unimposing parish church. The original village is now lost, the stately home lost, but the St Paul (St Poll, Sampoll) family will not ever be forgotten thanks to these amazing monuments.

037bAfter a couple of years of widowhood, Frances Wray remarried. Her spouse was Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick and this monument celebrates the two. The marriage wasn’t exactly a match made in heaven. Warwick died in 1619 and is buried with his family in Essex. Frances lived on at Snarford until her death in 1634.

These monuments really do take your breath away. They are huge, colourful and imposing. But they aren’t the only things of interest in this little church.

025bIt has one of the finest 15th century octagonal fonts in the county, with beautiful carvings, some of which depict objects connected with the crucifixion.

024bI find it amazing that children have been baptized in this font for more than 600 years.

023bI have found a book I think will be interesting that I am going to order from Amazon. It explains the architecture and the imagery of the English church. The more I see and the more I discover about the people who lived in these little off the beaten track places, the more I want to learn.

I have more Lincolnshire churches still to come … and plenty more around the country still to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

015b

We met an amazing lady yesterday at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire. This is Mistress Sue, guide, re-enactor, Tudor musician and all round interesting lady.

The weatherman tried to con us at the weekend by saying the weather was going to be lovely on Saturday but soggy on Sunday. He lied.

So once we had had breakfast and realised  it was going to be another lovely day, we decided to look for a castle from my Fifty before Fifty list (I’ve got to get up a gear, there are only two and a half years to go).

We chose Tutbury, just over the border into Staffordshire and, I’m ashamed to say, not somewhere I had ever heard of.

008b

But this castle has a long and riotous history. There have been settlements here since the Stone Age but the first recording of a castle here was in 1071. It was one of the ‘ new builds’ given to friends of the Norman invasion to keep down subversives.

It’s mostly ruinous now but you can still climb :)

005bAnd when you do you get views like this. This is the river Dove, meandering it’s way across the countryside. You can still see the channel cut through the fields so the river fed the castle moat.

025bGraffiti up the stairwell of the tower. I actually find graffiti quite interesting. There’s a bit of social history here. The earliest ones I could find at quick glance were from the 1830s.

Now Tutbury belonged to the de Ferrers family and is now owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.

Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here no less than four times. In fact it was at Tutbury that she became involved in the plot that was eventually to lead to her execution.

This castle was once a seat of power in medieval England. John of Gaunt lived here and it has been attacked and rebuilt many times.

006b

But if you want to know more about it, head inside where Sue, sitting quietly in the Great Hall can give you quite a shock when you get to the top of the stairs :).

Dressed as a 14th century housekeeper, she will wax lyrical about the history of this enigmatic place. She told us about the history and the artifacts, which included an executioner’s sword that she allowed us to hold, and this amazing Venetian doctor’s plague mask (straight out of Assassin’s Creed).

017bShe told us tales of ghosts, which include a soldier on the ramparts, a white lady in the window and, of course, Mary Queen of Scots.

Sue takes part in re-enactments with her husband Dan. They also visit schools to educate youngsters about history and are in a group of period musicians with songs and stories of medieval life. Her husband plays a wide range of medieval pipes, bagpipes and recorders. She played us some of the music. It was beautifully haunting.

Her group is called Merrie Din and you can find out more about them at their website here.

027bTutbury is a fascinating place and a variety of events are held there throughout the year – ghostly goings on a specialty. And, if you do ever visit, make sure you have a chat with Sue, a lovely, fascinating lady with a wealth of knowledge. She also gave us a list of not to be missed places to visit in Northumberland, where we are planning a longer road trip :).

When I was a kid I used to love the cartoon Ivor the Engine. There was Jones the Steam and Idris the dragon and, of course, Ivor, the steam engine who sang in the choir (You can see the first episode on YouTube here)

I also loved both the book by Edith Nesbitt and the film The Railway Children. Jenny Agutter waving her red flannel knickers standing on the railway track was very dramatic. I’d breathe a huge sigh of relief when the train stopped in time.

Maybe that’s why Number 27 on my Fifty before Fifty challenge was to go on a steam train :)

Yesterday was probably the first glorious spring day I’ve seen this year on a day off, so Man and I headed to Matlock, historic county town of Derbyshire, and a beautiful drive away across the Peak District.

010b

Matlock is absolutely lovely and has the very best park I have ever seen. This is a bridge in two halves. This side is 14th century, it was big enough to get a horse and cart across but that is probably it. If you look carefully underneath the arches, you can see the join where the bridge was extended. The other side is about 500 years more recent and it has been spliced together so you can get single lane modern traffic over the top.

On one side is Hall Leys Park, which is just amazing and has absolutely everything. Yesterday there was a Farmers’ Market there. We bought some amazing cheese, a huge scone and a sausage roll AND marmite sausages – oh my goodness they are amazing. We had some last night for dinner and then made some marmite bread to have sausage sandwiches for breakfast :)

This park is the most spectacular park and it has something for everyone. It has a bandstand, a sunken garden, a putting green, a boating lake, a miniature train, open areas where you can sit or kick a ball, an amazing kids play area with fountains, tennis courts, a bowling green, skateboard park, toilets and a cafe … all alongside the side of the river. It was fabulous.

We went for a walk along the river and found …

023b… lead mining. Mining has been carried out here since Roman times.

But the real reason we went to Matlock was to visit the Peak Rail steam railway and check off Number 27 on my list. It’s not quite Platform 9¾, it’s actually Platform 2 but this is real and not fiction :).

At Matlock Station we found the Peak Rail Station master.

008bPeak Rail is staffed and run by a team of enthusiasts who lovingly recreate the golden age of the steam railways. They are knowledgeable, cheerful and help give visitors a most memorable day on the trains.

For just £7.50 per adult you can ride the train all day, travelling a short stretch of line from Matlock through the village of Darley Dale to Rowsley South and back again, getting off where you want and hopping back on again.

046bIsn’t she beautiful?

We jumped on at Matlock and rode at a civilized chug chug speed through the most beautiful countryside to the end of the line where we got off and had a quick look round.

061bHere’s me on the train.

063bAnd a very nostalgic-looking photo of Man when we managed to commandeer a First Class carriage for our journey. So comfortable with sprung seats and doors so you could shut yourself in. So much more civilized than the hustle and bustle of today’s railways.

This used to be the Midlands Railway line between Manchester and St Pancras. It closed in the late 1960s. Some of it now forms paths, bridleways and cycle paths through the Peak District but I’m glad they kept this bit.

070bWe hopped off the train again at Darley Dale. This old gothic-style railway building has an exhibition of old photos and other railway memorabilia. You can check which engines were in use when, see the staff lists from years gone by and look at amazing photos of Land Girls at work on the railways during the Second World War or retired railway staff on their annual day trip. It was a lovely little exhibition.

Darley Dale itself is quite small. It had another fabulous park (probably bigger in area than the rest of the village) where we sat and devoured the Eastern scotch eggs we had bought earlier at the Farmers’ Market.

079bIt’s a funny little place. We found this random collection of mangles outside a house along the road near the park. Bizarre.

Darley Dale was the home, and is the final resting place, of Joseph Whitworth, Victorian engineer and philanthropist who was described when he died as a brilliant man but also a man with a huge ego.

He devised the British Standard Whitworth system, which created an accepted standard for screw threads – not a lot you can say about that really – and the Whitworth rifle, renowned for its precision.

Anyway, he lived here and his home is now a hotel and restaurant.

Then we hopped back on the train for a pleasant chuff chuff chuff back to Matlock.

It was a day of slowing down the pace and stepping back in time, a day of nostalgia and beautiful countyside on a bygone mode of transport through lovingly restored stations. It really was just lovely and, if you are ever in the area, I couldn’t recommend it more.

… And if you get a chance to buy the marmite sausages then make sure you do because they are amazing :)

One of my favourite bloggers, James at Country Corners, raised an interesting point in his blog yesterday (A winter walk in Spring part one – read it here).

He had taken a photo of a cottage in splendid isolation … then panned out to show the power lines on one side and the factory on the other.

“Photos rarely tell the truth, or at least the whole truth,” he said.

This struck a chord with me particularly after Man and I went walking around our Nottingham neighbourhood yesterday for the Phoneography Challenge – My Neighbourhood.

Man lives on a large estate in Nottingham. As we wandered around … never more than a mile from home … we were discussing the sort of photos we could take with our phones and how we could give viewers of those pictures whatever impression of a Nottingham estate that we chose.

We could have opted to do an entire album on inner city squalor … the graffiti, the litter in the hedges, the dog poo on the pavement, the metal grills tightly pulled down over the shop fronts, the boarded up windows or the contents of someone’s house sitting on their front garden.

Equally we could have chosen to take photographs of some of the immaculately manicured front gardens we saw, the series of bird feeders next to a average sized bush that must have had, without any exageration at all, at least 20 sparrows sitting in it waiting for us to pass so they could have some food, the five-tiered cakes in a shop window, the daffodils and crocuses on the verges of the road or the stone eagles atop the gateposts of a very average-sized house.

All those photographs would have been actual true pictures of things we had seen on our walk. If we had published a series of one lot, or a series of the other, they would have given very different impressions. But neither could have been said to be a true reflection of the neighbourhood we were walking around.

You would have had an impression of my neighbourhood entirely manipulated to the view I wanted you to see.

Interesting.

I think that would make quite an interesting long-term photo project for me. I might give it a go.

Now I intend to do another one of those My Neighbourhood projects around the area I live in in Hampshire. Shall I show you a small estate in a small town which has limited facilities and nothing much going on, or shall I show you a lovely countryside retreat with open common land and lots of nature? Who knows, I suppose it will depend what mood I’m in :)

In the meantime, here’s a couple of pictures from the lake, which is about a mile or so from my home, that I took last Monday morning,

I haven’t been around for a little while because I’ve been trying to break some habits and make some new ones.

And I am very pleased to say this is the result.

photoThis is the app on my phone that shows the amount of time since I stopped smoking and the amount of money it estimates I have saved since I stopped smoking.

I didn’t want anyone to know for the first few days because I knew the ‘how are you doing?’, ‘have you had one yet?’, ‘just think of all that money you’re saving’ would annoy me to the point that I would go and buy a packet of cigarettes out of pure spite.

I’m cantankerous like that.

Man has also stopped. In fact he stopped a couple of days before I did.

And now I’ve had a small brag, I’m not going to discuss it anymore :) (and I do not think I would enjoy giving regular updates on my non-smoking to well-meaning family members either so don’t bother asking).

So currently I am up at Man’s after a hideous journey up the M1 in the snow with a lot of idiots on the road on Friday.

The world is white and there is more expected over the next 24 hours. I must drive home tomorrow and I have a dentist appointment first thing Tuesday morning to fix a very painful tooth so it will be worth making the trek through the snow just to get my tooth fixed.

Thankfully I have found an NHS dentist under whom the five fillings and a crown that I need will only cost £209. I shudder to think how much that little lot would have cost if I had to pay private dental fees.

I also have a date for the operation to fix my umbilical hernia. I have to op on Saturday February 2. I am glad because it is very painful quite often now so it will be good to get that fixed. Then I can start on the fitness campaign.

Man and I went to Attenborough Nature Reserve in the snow yesterday for a walk. It was lovely and a lot quieter than when we visited on New Year’s Day :) when it was packed with fair-weather, new year’s resolutioners :)

It looks completely different covered in snow and a lot of the foliage was flat with the weight of the snow so you had lots of different views.

I was quite pleased with some of my small bird pictures. Man bought a bird feeder for his garden and a bird identification book and I bought a fungi identification book.

I then nicked Man’s book to identify the two types of tit, the dunnock and the reed bunting I had photographed (I recognised the robin).

Sadly I have some work to do today but then I want to get out with my camera again cos this snow makes fun photos.

 

 

043bAnother couple of pictures from Attenborough Nature Reserve from New Year’s Day. I don’t have any others from this year at the moment.

At work, I operate in week numbers. This is week one and all publications for week one have been published, therefore week one is officially over.

Have only been back at work two days and I’m shattered already!

I am very much looking forward to going back to my four day week. I like my Mondays off. We all do long days, usually 11 or 12 hours, sometimes more, but having that three-day weekend is a godsend.

I don’t get to see Man for a couple of weekends now. Financially, January is a tough time for me, like a lot of people, mainly because I overspend at Christmas! So I am not going back up to Man’s house for another two weeks.

I do, however, have a lot to keep me occupied this weekend not least of which is the removal of the Christmas decorations – yay!

Now, I do love them, but there comes a point when I just can’t wait to take them down. I reached that point a few days ago.

I am looking forward to doubling the size of my living space with their removal.

I am also meeting a couple of close friends for dinner on Saturday and then on Sunday there is a family gathering with my ex-husband’s side of the family. Since his death last April there have been more opportunities to do this and I love the fact that the girls can now have a proper relationship with their grandparents again.

I also need to catch up on some housework, some reading, some writing, Man’s jumper :) and some viewing.

I now have every episode of Criminal Minds series 1 to 7, Miranda, Merlin series 1 to 5, Revenge and Call the Midwife to watch :)

I have a freestanding birdfeeder to construct and put up in the garden and lots of photographs to take. So far I have only one photo download folder that says 2013 on my computer.

I have fallen behind with my reading quite a bit – just four books on my challenge so far, that’s another 68 to go.

The churches are going to have to wait a couple of weeks until I can start affording road trips again.

But I don’t think I am going to be bored … there is always a long list of things to do, and I do love lists :)

041b

 

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 …

022b

Just look at those wall paintings.

006b

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.

055b

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″.

042b036bb

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.