Here we are in the time of Covid-19. This is one cartoon which sums up the month. The one below sums up what it felt like not to do Holy Week and Easter in my churches. You had to try and smile (or else you’d cry). If you want to know what we got up to in our two churches, have a look at https://www.stedsandstmatts.co.uk/copy-of-worship-while-our-buildings
The furthest I got in the month was Nottingham Road Cemetery. The staff there (and at the Crem) are being superb. We tried to keep in touch with people through emails, phone, and facebook. Here are my daily facebook ramblings.
I didn’t do much walking to start the month, and I’ve already blogged the Norwich day. Covid19 is sweeping the world, and life is going to change. On Friday 13 March I went for my favourite walk – up to Quarndon (I love this tree), then left and north to the west side of Duffield. One rather muddy stretch. Croot’s Farm Shop sold me coffee and cake, and a rucksack of provisions. Then to the Duffield Coop for the rest of the stuff I needed, and the bus back. 5 1/2 miles.
I had some Nordic walking sessions before Christmas, and was finally able to join them for another walk on Saturday 14 March – https://exercise-anywhere.com/. I drove north to Hathersage, about an hour’s drive. We met at the Millstone Inn, and Sue led a 4 mile walk – it was nice to meet some of the other regular walkers, a very friendly bunch. I had done some of this walk on the second of my Derwent Valley walks (must finish the walk sometime). Down beside the river, then up past the signal at the west end of Grindleford station. We then had coffee and cake. We were almost the only people in the pub – the next few weeks are going to be interesting. I fear this will be the last coffee and cake outside the house for quite a while. The pub has an accessible loo and a portable ramp in, so it’s on the list for a meal out with Julie when all this is over.
On Sunday 15 March I had the privilege of preaching at the Cathedral. It was part of their series on John Bell’s hymns, and I did “We cannot measure how you heal”. I have realised I have a lot of photos of the Cathedral and should be able to write a blog while everything is closed.
On Monday, St Edmund’s was looking lovely – I can also write blogs on my two churches. Public worship was suspended on Tuesday 17 March, churches closed a few days later, and we are told to #stayathome. When you have a garden as large as mine it is not too much of a problem. I managed to walk 28 miles this month – 20 times round the garden is about 2 miles. That’s 125 miles in the first quarter of this year.
On Friday 20 March I started a daily post on Facebook – my page, and the pages of both of my churches. I also print it in hard copy – don’t trust this new fangled interweb – so let’s attach a pdf to this blog as well.
St George Colegate TG 229090 has a nice sign outside saying the church is open, but they need to do something about the vestibule, it hardly says “this church is worth visiting.” I did like the poster for the Lent Group where they are discussing “What we (try to) believe”. My sort of church. They have a very nice little leaflet which explains what happens in a morning service, and whereabouts in the church it happens – might do something similar. (This is the pillar they sit behind so they can’t see anything. These are the pews at the back of the Nave, which they sit in first).
The church itself was built between 1460 and 1510, but all the fitting are Georgian, the Victorians didn’t get to this church. The west gallery is supported by wooden Tuscan columns, and the organ (which dates to 1802) is in its original position. It was built by George Pike England, son of a very famous London organ builder George England. It was inaugurated at Easter 1802 with a performance of Handel’s Messiah. The original part is in good order, and a second manual and full pedalboard was added later. It was originally surmounted by this figure of Fame, which is now on the south porch. One of the organists who played here as a child, apparently sitting on his mother’s knee, was William Crotch (1775-1847) – generations of choristers have enjoyed his responses (and his name). At the age of 3 he was taken to London, and in 1779 J.C. Bach arranged for him to play for the King. He went on to be Professor of Music at Oxford and the first Principal of the Royal College of Music.
The wonderful leaflet “St George Colegate and the Georgian Connections” tells me nothing about the font itself, but does tell me that Luke Hansard (1752-1828) was baptised here – as in Hansard’s record of the British parliament.
There is a lovely selection of memorials and no doubt there could be wonderful research done on all of them.
Timothy Balderston (1682-1764) was Mayor between 1736 and 1764. His wealth came through the weaving trade. The memorial describes him as “an honest man, a steady friend, a worthy magistrate and a good Christian.” John Herring (1749-1810) and his wife Rebecca lived at 4 Colegate. He was Sheriff in 1786 and Mayor in 1799.
John Crome (1786-1821) was the son of a journeyman and pub landlord. At the age of 13 he was working as errand boy for Dr Edward Rigby. He spotted his potential as an artist, and introduced him to some significant people. In 1783 he was apprenticed to Francis Whistler, a sign, coach and house painter in Bethel Street. He often sat and painted on Mousehold Heath, and started taking his own commissions on 1790. In 1803, with other artists, he founded the Norwich School of Art. He was churchwarden here, and founded the Dirty Shirt Club, a discussion group to which members could come after work (hence the clothing). They still call their discussion group by that name.
They had the War Memorial nicely organised too.
They have some memorials from the various Mayors who have worshipped here, including a recent one. I like the eagle and a very Georgian altar.
Outside the church is a water conduit, and the whole area is worth an explore. I thought I knew Norwich quite well, but realised that I don’t.
St-Martin-at-Palace is on the corner of Bishopsgate and Whitefriars – TG 234 091 – and is the HQ of Norwich Historic Churches Trust, https://www.nhct-norwich.org/. The East Wall dates to 1070, nave and chancel C11/12, south nave aisle 1400, and the chancel chapels 1490. The chancel collapsed in 1851, and was rebuilt (as was the porch). The tower fell in 1783 and rebuilt in 1874.
The church closed in 1973 and was used as a store for the Diocesan Furnishings Officer. It was re-ordered in 1985 and taken over by the Probation Service. The re-ordering involved the screening off the two chancel chapels so they could be used as meeting rooms, inserting a mezzanine floor in the north aisle and an amazing three-tier structure in the nave. They dug down and went up – and none of it is accessible if you are disabled. The course we were on met in the Chancel, which had a step into it (and no ramp). The Probation service moved out in 2013, and NCHT moved in – they are developing the area as a better visitors centre, so one hopes they will address some of these things.
We sat and looked at the east window of 1952, made by the William Morris workshop – Jesus, Mary and a Roman Centurion.
This glass is C19.
In the (locked) north chapel is the tomb of Dame Elizabeth Calthorp (died 1578). She married three times. Her first husband was Sir Henry Parker (1507-52) who held various posts at Henry VIII’s court, then Sir William Woodhouse of Waxham (1517-64) who became Vice-Admiral of the Navy in 1552, and finally Sir Drue Drury (1531-1617) who became Gentleman Usher of the Privy Council in 1559. Her mother, Amy Boleyn, was a first cousin of Queen Anne Boleyn. There are some other nice memorials too.
No doubt there is more that they could do, but it’s an interesting place. They have lots of leaflets and guides to Norwich churches.
Norwich Historic Churches Trust were having a day conference on Medieval Pilgrimage so I caught the early train across from East Midlands Parkway. Elaine joined me at Ely, and we crossed Norfolk together. It is a shame seeing so many signal boxes going derelict. We walked along the River Wensum to Pull’s Ferry – always one of my favourite walks. I also remember walking it with grandad when I was a lad. It’s a C15 building, named after John Pull who ran the ferry from 1796 to 1841 (makes you wonder how many times he crossed the river). The ferry house next door was built in 1647. Originally there was a canal built from the river up to the Cathedral for the transport of the stone – there must be a PhD in how stone was transported to these Cathedrals and how many canals were dug across the country.
We continued beside the school playing fields, then onto Bishopsgate and beside the Great Hospital, founded by Bishop Walter de Suffield in 1249. Sadly St Helen’s church was locked – see Simon’s wonderful website, http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/norwichhelen/norwichhelen.htm. We walked round the Cathedral perimeter wall, and stopped to pay our respects to Edith Cavell – excellent website at https://edithcavell.org.uk/. I did a series of articles about World War 1 in the GER magazine, and there is a fascinating article to be written about how the Country coped with her death and the death of Captain Fryatt, the GE shipping commander who was also shot.
I’ll write the church of St-Martin-at-Palace, the HQ of Norwich Historic Churches Trust, up later. Then we walked up Wensum Street, ate, and went for an explore. We walked past St Clement-at-Fyebridge, which was probably established around 900 AD, and enlarged about 500 years later – NHCT has produced a selection of leaflets, there are lots of walking tours around the City.
The Octagon Chapel on Colegate looks fascinating too. It stands on the site of St John Colegate and, in a typical ecumenical gesture, the NHCT leaflet tells me nothing about the Chapel! There is a superb website – https://octagonchapelnorwich.org.uk/ – well done the local school. Then we went into St George Colegate – and I’ll blog that one separately.
Just along the road is St Michael Coslany, founded late C10 or early C11, but rebuilt in the C15. The east wall is, to quote one of the walking leaflets, “glorious medieval flushwork wall [where] cu white limestone has been inlaid with darker flint to create a patterned surface that echoes the arched forms and fine tracery of the large windows.” The Chancel flushwork is a Victorian copy. The church now houses a circus group, and I wasn’t brave enough to walk in and have a look (I might have ended up on a trapeze). Also known as St Miles, this is the church that used to house the Inspire Science Discovery Centre. The kids used to enjoy that – once we had a trip here for Gareth’s birthday (16 December) and had the place to ourselves. Happy memories!
We came down to the river by the Bullard Anchor Brewery – https://bullardsspirits.co.uk/bullards-story/. Founded by Richard Bullard and James Watts in 1837. There are lots of fascinating riverside buildings along here, but the frustration was the number of places where what looks like a riverside path peters out just round the corner. We saw one boat on the river – if Derby can make something of its waterside heritage and plan a waterboat service, Norwich should be able to. Many years ago I went on a Cambridge University Railway Club trip to Trowse Swing Bridge, and they swung the bridge for us – must see if I can find the photos. [Another job to add to the list of things to do while we’re locked down for Covid-19]. I also photoed St Gregory, and I’ve added those photos to the original blog.
St Andrew’s church has a North Porch that can be dated to 1467, about the same time as the lowest portion of the tower, then another building campaign started in 1499. The church was ready to be glazed by 1508, and Robert Gardener, who was thrice Mayor of the City, was one of those who left £10 for that work. Apparently the church is open for visitors for an hour on Sunday after the morning service “with a focus on teaching the Bible and the use of contemporary music” and on Thursday afternoons. Must visit on a Thursday!
Back over the river, and past St Edmund’s church. This church seems slightly marooned, and it was firmly locked, but it stands against the line of the Anglo-Saxon fortifications, the town’s protection against the Vikings. Edmund’s martyrdom was about 50 years before the church was built, so the dedication was probably a form of spiritual protection for the City. In medieval times, part of the king’s shirt, the one he was said to be wearing when he died, was held in a crystal casket here. Simon got inside in 2018 – http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/norwichedmund/norwichedmund.htm – it’s now the Fishergate House of Prayer – call2prayer.co.uk.
The walk back was lovely – daffodils, and the Cow Tower, which I don’t think I’d ever been to before. One of the earliest purpose-built artillery blockhouses in England, built about 1398 to command a strategic point in the city’s defences. Nice bridge too. This is all part of the city I had never been to before. Back past Pull’s Ferry, and to Thorpe station.
Time for a leisurely coffee, then the train back to Ely and on to Nottingham and East Midlands Parkway. It had been a good day – 5 miles walked.
There are already a couple of blogs of the beautiful Southwell Minster already on this site. It is a special place for me as I did a placement here while at Lincoln Theological College. 27 years later Helen Bates, who had the pleasure of teaching us at Derby Uni (at least, I hope it was a pleasure) is now working for Southwell Minster. She had organised a roof tour – would I like to join? Silly question. I went over from Duffield, and was joined at Nottingham by Helena, one of our fellow-students. From Newark Castle we got a taxi, and made it to Southwell just as the tour was about to start at 1030.
We had a health and safety briefing, and then climbed the scaffold stairs to the Quire roof. An inspiring notice as we went on site! They are replacing the roof of Westmoreland tiles with a new lead one. I asked why they were using lead when so many churches are having theirs’ stolen. They have decided that as the Minster is in the middle of the town there is good visibility and security, and lead is the best material. It was fascinating seeing how flexible it was as they put the clips on. The sheets are only fastened at the top, and then they add the various vents. The circles are poles through the roof which will hold the wires for the safe access scheme. You can see the different roof levels that have existed in this part of the Cathedral.
It was lovely looking down on the different bits of the Cathedral, on the Archbishop’s Palace and on the clergy houses – I want one! Lovely seeing the carvings from close-up.
We then went into the Cathedral and into the Chapter House. The carvings date circa 1287, and we had a wonderful guide. I thought I knew the carvings quite well, but it was good to see them in a new light. Here is the Chapter House itself, and the chap who might have been the Mason.
Let’s start with some Green Men and perhaps a green woman or two – wonderful symbols of fertility and life. Even now you can find all the different plants are carved in stone growing within a mile or two of the Minster. Part of the project is to try and connect children with nature – a lot of youngsters (and many of us older ones) have no idea what leaf is which.
Here are a couple more figures, and some more foliage. The carving is incredible. Note the empty acorn cases, and the pigs eating them.
There is a big National Lottery Heritage Fund project to conserve, protect and interpret the leaves. They are going to improve the heating, put in better lighting, and (best of all) disabled access. There will be interpretation work, and a lot of education work – Helen wants knitted Green Men! Have a look at https://www.southwellminster.org/theme/visit-the-leaves-of-southwell/, there are wonderful photos there too.
Lovely series of angel windows by Patrick Reyntiens, installed about 1995.
We caught the bus back to Nottingham and walked through the City back to the station. A really good day out, and here is a lovely prayer on their website:
Gracious God, source of life, we praise you for the wonder and diversity of the natural world, and we thank you for the genius of the craftsmen who carved the Chapter House leaves that speak to us still. Open our hearts and minds to your guiding Spirit, that we may discern together how best to cherish this good earth and safeguard its resources. As we listen to the leaves, show us to share in creation’s song and rediscover our harmony in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This is the month that a Barham makes it into Railway Magazine. It’s not me, it’s Hannah – in a feature on the problems of disability access to trains. This was her first ride on an LNER Azuma (and I haven’t been on one yet).
We had a series of wet weekends, and on Monday 6 February the Derwent was very high. I walked six miles round Darley Park. In the afternoon we had a snow shower (Sarah photed St Matthew’s Darley Abbey). It lasted just long enough to photo St Edmund’s Allestree looking lovely. The only snow of the winter.
We had a wet Saturday (22 February) on the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway – I have never seen the Banwy so high by the Mill.
I returned to giving Platelets in Sheffield on Friday 28 September. A return from Belper to Lincoln is only a pound more than a return to Sheffield. I had a ride on a new Northern unit, and then a quick trot up to the Theological College and Cathedral and back. The College is now expensive apartments – such a shame. It was a wonderful place to train, and a great resource for the Church. I changed at Newark Castle on the way back. The station has a great cafe called Carriages – https://www.carriagesnewark.co.uk/ , which does a superb stew.
I may have walked 60 miles in January. In February the total was only 37.
Tuesday 4 February. I have a free day, so I’ll leave Caroline to run the office and Julie to go to the Old People’s Lunch. I drove to Etwall, parked by the church and started walking. I have decided to call it the William Stanley Way – he was Earl of Derby and has been suggested as one of the authors of Shakespeare. You would think you would be able to reach the old railway path by walking through the grounds of Etwall Leisure Centre, but there is a fence to separate walkers from squash players. Better to access the railway path via Old Station Close. I had the path to myself as I headed south. It was in a good condition, with little litter. Under the A50 and down to Egginton Junction. The original station here was opened in 1849, on the North Staffs line from Derby to Stoke. The line I have been walking down (the Great Northern line) was opened in 1878 and a new station was built for the junction. The chimney is of an old dairy, freight ran from a siding here until the mid-60s.
I joined the road and headed north, I should have walked south and photoed the signal box. In an ideal world the railway to Burton would have been kept as a walk route. If I head south via Egginton I will struggle to cross the A38 to reach the canal, so I need to curve round and cross the Dove further west. The path through this part of Hilton passes huge car parks by the various industrial units, then I walked through anonymous modern estates. There must be hundreds of new houses and flats, I wonder if there is any community. I ended up on the perimeter road, and photoed Marston church as I crossed Hilton Brook. A nice walk across the fields into the Hamlet.
I liked the notice at the end of the road through to Hatton, and walked down to St Mary’s church, Marston on Dove (SK 232 295). It’s a Grade 1 listed church, C13 early C14 (including the tower), restored in the C19 The Lych Gate is a War Memorial, with a lot of WW1 names and one from the Falkland’s. Sadly the church was locked, and their website gives no indication as to when it might be open – https://stmaryshilton.org/
A walk through the field back to the road, then south over the level crossing. Too cold to wait for a train. Over the Dove and into Staffordshire – I said Hello to the swans. There was an information board and a nature reserve on one of the old meanders of the river, but the map didn’t make it clear whether the path round the lake had any exit by Rolleston village, so I stayed on the road instead.
On the north side of Rolleston on Dove there are two footpaths. I decided not to take the one that goes towards the parish church – thinking it would probably be locked. (Checking later, their website hasn’t been updated since 2018 – http://www.rolleston.org.uk/stmarys/). I came into the village by the stream and found a derelict Brook House. They have a lovely website, it must have been a beautiful hotel – but their website hasn’t been updated for five years. It’s an C18 Grade II listed building – I wondered if it was a mill, but apparently not.
I could have walked straight through the village in the Burton direction, but a bit of googling had discovered the Rolleston station site – http://www.rolleston-on-dove-station.co.uk/ – and found that the railway line here is a nature trail and public path. (Another website said that there was Millennium funding to link this with the line I had started on, but the project never came to fruition). This piece of line was originally the Burton branch of the North Staffs, linking Tutbury to Burton, and opened in 1848. Later an east curve was opened by the Great Northern. They have done a superb job of making a decent path, including the community, and remembering the railway heritage – thank you. Staying on the railway meant I missed Stretton church and the shops in the village centre.
The railway becomes a road, then I walked under the A38 Burton bypass and down onto the Trent and Mersey Canal. This was one of the earliest canals in England, authorised by Act of Parliament in 1766 and completed in 1777. It runs from the River Trent at Derwent Mouth just east of Derby (Shardlow) to Preston Brook in Cheshire, where it joins the Bridgewater Canal, thus giving access to the Mersey. The first cross-country canal – and a huge part of the industrial development of the country. Brewing had been part of the life of Burton since the Benedictine Monastery was founded around 1000 AD, and the Trent itself had been made navigable in 1712. That enabled beer and textiles to leave Burton more easily than when the only exit was on a poor road. The Canal was easier than the River, and of course continued on past the town itself. The canal engineer, James Brindley, designed the canal from the Trent with wide locks, but Dallow lock (the only one passed as I walked this stretch) and everything to the south and west of the town is narrow. The railway arrived in the town in 1839, and Burton became the brewing capital of the world. There was a network of railway sidings – search youtube for “Burton on Trent brewery railways” – and a branch from the line I’ve just walked curved round to Dallow Lock.
The Kingfisher Project have done a lot of work on the canal and its environment – https://www.thekingfisherproject.co.uk/about/ – and there is more information at http://www.eaststaffsbc.gov.uk/parks-and-open-spaces/kingfisher-trail. Like all these projects it seems far easier to get money for capital works and lovely art, than it is for on-going maintenance and litter-picking. The main problem with this stretch of the canal is that it parallels the A38 and is noisy. However it was fun looking at the boats, including one called Zephyranthes, which I find is a group of plants in the Amaryllis family. I did about a mile and a half down the canal, past Horninglow Basin, then headed towards the railway station at the Shobnall Fields footbridge.
The middle of Burton is not a particularly attractive part of town. The Midland Grain Warehouse opposite the station dated to 1890 and is Grade 2 listed. It is now the Travelodge – I wonder how much of the original features they have kept. I arrived at 1319 a minute before the bus was due to leave for Etwall. It is quite a long ride to Etwall, and I needed the loo first. I caught the next bus at 1349! The original railway station was opened in 1839 by the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway. There was a major rebuilding in 1883 and another in 1970. It is not a beautiful building, but it does have a loo (for this relief, much thanks).
It is a 40 minute ride on the Trent Barton Villager, for much of the route paralleling my walk. The War Memorial and Church at Stretton look worth a better photo, and Rolleston looks worth a wander round. The bus diverts via Tutbury (Castle and church) and Hatton where there is a stop by the station and signalbox, opposite the Coffee Factory. According to https://www.nestle.co.uk/en-gb/media/pressreleases/nestle-investment-derbyshire-coffee-factory in 2018 they were producing 35,000 tonnes of coffee a year. It takes an interesting route through the modern estates of Hilton, and then dropped me off by my car. I’d walked 10 miles in about 3 hours, and only had to stop once to get a funeral booked.
I started the year with a 7 mile walk – into town via Chester Green and back via Markeaton Brook – and on 3rd I did 5 miles which included a wander past Darley Abbey Mill. A bit more over the next few days. On Saturday 11 I followed some of the paths opposite the University which I had not done before.
The following day I had the afternoon off and went to Rotherham to visit the South Yorkshire Transport Museum. They run a connecting bus from the station, but I missed it and therefore had a walk along the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation. Not the most beautiful walk, rather too much litter and dereliction, but then you come on a flock of swans and have a chat with two friendly fishermen.
The Museum is in a large industrial unit, and they had a welcoming tea room. An hour was a long enough visit, but I enjoyed my explore. Buses, trams and an interesting collection of vehicles, posters, tickets, signs, even milk bottles. Our first car was a mini – I had forgotten how small the original minis were.
Then a ride on a 1961 coach back to Interchange – there was one point when the driver “stuck his flipping hand out and jammed on all the brakes”. A Pacer back to Sheffield – Pacers will not be around for much longer, so it could be my final ride.
A bit more the following week, then a walk to Etwall (blogged elsewhere). On Thursday 23 January East Midlands Railway offered a £15 return to London – it would have been rude to say ‘No’.
I went on from St Pancras to Blackfriars, then had a walk along the South Bank, across Westminster Bridge, and a circle along the Victoria Embankment, through the gardens looking at some of the interesting monuments.
The Battle of Britain memorial was unveiled in 2005. It was built round a original steam outlet for the District line trains running underneath. The sculptor was Paul Day, and there is a lot of info at the website – http://bbm.org.uk/themonument/. Lovely figures, showing not just the Battle, but Wartime life in general. Very tactile, really alive.
The Iraq and Afghanistan memorial, in the gardens on the north side of the road, is also by Paul Day, and was unveiled in 2017. Two blocks of Portland stone with a bronze medallion in the centre.
The Memorial to the Imperial Camel Corp dates to 1921 and was the work of A.B. Burton and Major Cecil Brown. It commemorates 346 people who died in the First World War in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine.
Then I went on a Brunel Walk. It started with a boat trip down river to Masthouse Terrace Pier at the bottom of the Isle of Dogs, and then we walked along past the construction site of the Great Eastern. We went into Island Gardens, enjoyed the view across to Greenwich, and then caught the DLR up through the Isle of Dogs and back to Shadwell.
Then the East London Line (now the Overground) to Rotherhithe, through Brunel’s Thames Tunnel. I last did this trip with the St Edmundsbury Cathedral Railway Club, probably about 15 years ago. In those days they would turn the tunnel lights on and run the trains slowly. We talked on the platform, then went to the museum – https://www.brunel-museum.org.uk/. Well worth a visit.
Whenever I travel through London I go the pretty way. I got to St Pancras an hour before the train home, so I had a wander through the Goods’ Yard, beside the canal, and through the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church. Thomas Hardy was involved in the clearing of this graveyard, and it will be worth another visit. 5 miles walked in three different places.
We spent the final week of the month in Northumberland. A gorgeous day at Wallington National Trust property and Julie borrowed a tramper. We did 6 miles round the Estate.
I had a train ride from Morpeth to Hexham – a lovely ride along the Tyne. I then did a 3 mile walk, up the hill to the wonderful Cogito Bookshop (J had a book to be collected!), a nice chat with them. Then down through the park, and on to the river. I like Hexham.
The month ended with a couple of miles round the National Trust Cragside estate. 60 miles during the month, which isn’t bad.
In 2017 I said I would try and walk 1,000 miles. I failed. In 2018 I said I would try and walk 1,000 miles. I failed again. In 2019 I kept quiet – then had to have a minor op in the autumn which meant I wasn’t in a fit state to do much walking. I did some academic work on pilgrimage to Lindisfarne, but lack of exercise meant my weight and my blood pressure increased. I signed up to try Nordic Walking, and enjoyed it. I purchased some poles for Christmas, and we’ll see how far we get in 2020.
2020 is a year of Pilgrimage with lots of routes already on line at http://britishpilgrimage.org/routes/#cathedral-pilgrimages. Julie and I have a fortnight in Orkney in the summer, so the St Magnus Way looks possible. Last year in the Hospice Shop in Stratford I purchased the guide of the Shakespeare Way which runs from his Birthplace to The Globe, and I would love to walk that. Then I wondered whether I should walk from Derby to Stratford – I thought one of Gerard Hoffnung’s advice to Foreign Tourists included “you could get a train to Stratford, but it’s not far to walk” (it’s not one of his, probably one of Dr Jeffrey Barham).
Any Walk needs a name. I obviously can’t call it the Hoffnung Way. A google tells me that William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, is one of those who might have written Shakespeare’s plays. So if I want to name my Walk from Derby to Stratford, I’ll name it after him. Might do some more research as I go.
On Saturday 18 January, after a wettish week, it dawned bright and frosty. I had been given details of an exhibition at Etwall church, so decided I would walk to Etwall. If I was going to walk to Stratford, heading south towards Burton on Trent would be a good start, and that takes me via Etwall.
It was a bit icy under foot, and I was glad I had my two Nordic poles. Through Allestree Recreation ground, down past Park Farm shops, and across into Markeaton Park – https://www.inderby.org.uk/parks/derbys-parks -and-open-spaces/markeaton-park/. The Mundy family had this estate from 1516 – several of the Mundys are memorialised in St Edmund’s – and gave it to the Council early in the C20. Usually on a Saturday morning it is packed for a park run, but that had been called off today. Just a few runners, most of whom were pleasant to a slower walker. I smiled at the swans – they are able to break your arm (or is it your leg?). Round past the Orangery and beside the gardens, then south towards the main road.
I walked up through Mackworth, passed Birds and Gregg’s (be impressed), passed the Catholic and Anglican churches, then I should have turned left down Merton Drive, then Richmond Park Road and the footpath towards the trail along the railway. I made the mistake of getting onto the footpath which leads due east alongside the Sports Centre. That added a bit to my walk – it is a shame that signposting is not seen as important. Down to the Great Northern pub, and onto the Sustrans path along the old Great Northern Railway (there was a clue in the name of the pub).
They started building the line in 1875 to link the Nottinghamshire coal field across through Derby to Egginton Junction – where they could join the North Staffs down to Burton and across to Crewe. It crossed the River Derwent at the south of my parish of Darley Abbey, then entered Friargate station. Across past the huge goods’ warehouse which (like so much of Derby’s heritage) lies derelict, and then continued west through the 464 yard long Mickelover tunnel. Mickelover station was opened in 1878. At the Grouping it became part of the LNER (everything else around here was LMS), and passenger services were discontinued west of Derby in 1939. Excursion traffic continued to 1968, freight lasted until 1968, then British Rail Research Department took over the line until 1990. Note some of the signs of its history as we walk along. www.olddalby.com has some interesting photos (including the original prototype of the Advanced Passenger Train).
It is a lovely walk. A few joggers, and one young lady who (without the aid of Nordic walking poles) managed to overtake me! Nice views in both directions, and it was a gorgeous morning. Under the A516 (at least they built a bridge when they built this road), up onto the old road from Etwall to Sutton, and into Etwall village. Some nice houses – the Rectory was huge (a walk through rural England will be a picture of the decline of the influence of the Church of England).
I have already blogged St Helen’s, Etwall – http://www.northernvicar.co.uk/2018/11/05/ etwall-derbyshire-st-heen/ – when I had a visit in 2018. I arrived today to a buzzing church. They were having a day to tell the village about the discovery of a vault in the churchyard. First I needed tea and cake – and very nice it was too. I had walked 9 miles.
Last May two workmen arrived from South Derbyshire District Council to repair the steps into the churchyard at the west end of the church. They revealed two arched openings, the ends of two large vaults in which lay nine coffins, three in the north vault and six in the south. They were allowed to insert a camera – personally I would have thought it would have made sense for someone to go in and check the roof before they bricked it up again. The news report is at https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/ burton/bodies-found-etwall-crypt-derbyshire2899429.
They knew there was a vault somewhere – indeed a memorial tablet on the north wall of the Chancel mentions it – but written records have been lost, and it had faded from the corporate memory. Research suggests it was built by the Cotton family who lived at Etwall Hall. They have managed to identify six people who are buried there (Joseph Green 1810, The Reverend W.T. Beer 1821, Rebecca Beer 1829, William Beer 1831, The Reverend Charles Evelyn Cotton 1857 and Agnes Sneyd 1862), and another five who could be there (but there are only nine coffins in all). The last one died in 1868 – so everything has been forgotten in less than 150 years. The Hall itself was demolished in the 1950s.
They had done a nice exhibition, and Geoff Lightbown had written a report and gave us an illustrated talk. I had to leave before it was concluded to catch the bus back to Derby, but I went and photoed the steps first.
The Villager bus runs from Burton via Tatton and Etwall (so, if I continue my walk towards Stratford, I will end up on it again) and stops not too far from Kingsway. I met Julie and returned to real life with a trip to TK Maxx and Pets at Home. If I call my walk a ‘Pilgrimage’ surely I can avoid such excitement!