King’s Lynn, Norfolk – Minster, St Margaret (again)

When I went to Lynn on an old diesel unit back in May – see the blog – the Minster was nice, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with the town. When we came while on holiday in July we did the shops, and were un-impressed. We are on holiday nearby again, and when I searched the Heritage Open Days website I was amazed how much seemed to be going on in King’s Lynn (especially in comparison with Derby).

On Sunday 16 September we drove into town, walked down to the area by the Minster and found a food fayre and a lot of people.

First stop was Stories of Lynn, a good exhibition about the life of the town. There was a good exhibition about Norfolk Women Workers in WW1, put together by the archive service. Details here. Next door the Town Hall did not have welcoming staff – we were ignored – so we came back out. Then to TS Vancouver, nothing really accessible. We walked up the Quayside and watched the end of the East Norfolk Militia demonstration by the Custom House, 1685 by Henry Bell. Julie asked the lady in the tourist office on the ground floor if there was anything about Fanny Burney. “No” she was told. I went upstairs and had a quick look. Back downstairs, and Julie pointed out a display about Fanny Burney, 10 yards from where the lady was standing.

We continued north and called into St George’s Yard where there were art activities, loos, and exhibition in the Fermoy Art Gallery. Then the Guildhall Theatre, the original guildhall dates to 1420, a scissor-braced roof of 61 trusses. There was a Classic Car Day on the Tuesday Market – not really my thing, but the place was buzzing. St Nicholas’ Chapel is stunning – that’s the next blog. We returned south, and I stopped the Mayor to tell him how wonderful HODs are in his town. We went into Wilko’s to get a few things, and the lass on the till told me how busy the town was. Here is Heritage working for the economic good of the town. On to St John the Evangelist, another blog, then to All Saints’, another blog. Back to the Minster,  so let’s add to the blog I did last May.

The entrance to the West Door is looking gorgeous – thank you gardeners.

The pine chest, with a lime lid, is Hanseatic, made in Gdansk in Poland from 1420, used by churches for the storage of valuables. Last time I visited I photoed it with the lid closed.

The glazed screen at the North Porch is by Geoffrey Clark, dates from 1967.

When I came in May they had the builders in and the organ was under wraps. It is by Snetzler, dates to 1754, and has 682 pipes. The case is by Wordsworth of 1895.

The Chancel looks good now the builders have gone, a rather stunning reredos by G.F. Bodley (1899), and the eagle lectern is C15. I like the altar frontal.

Some interesting paintings and carvings – they need to be better displayed.

A lovely chair, and you look up at the ceiling – and step back and look at the longer view.

Last time I missed the C14 misericords. I’ll blame the builders. They are rather wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sempringham, Lincolnshire – St Andrew, Sempringham Abbey

A cross Fen drive to the next Heritage Open Day. St Andrew’s church, Sempringham, Sempringham Abbey. The parish has a website, and the benefice has one too – here. You can even fly over the church – here. It is approached via a track, and I remembered coming here with the kids when we were at Lincoln Theological College, 25 years ago. There was a Saxon church here, then Jocelin, a Norman knight, built a new church in 1100. The central Norman tower was replaced in 1350-70 by the current one. The south doorway is good Norman work.

The story goes that Jocelin was married to a Saxon lady. She had a vision of the moon coming down and settling in her lap – she interpreted this as the belief her son would be special. The son was born in 1083 and called Gilbert. Popular tradition, and the current leaflet, describe him as “deformed, dull and lazy” – it would be good if we could update the language. His childhood was difficult, only his mother had time for him, and eventually he was sent to France to train as a clerk (these are the European links we are currently trying to destroy), and when he returned – now with a profession – his father accepted him. He began schooling the local children, boys and girls, and some of them started living according to a Rule. In 1122 he became a clerk in the household of Robert Bloet, Bishop of Lincoln, then served his successor Alexander. He was ordained, then returned to Sempringham in 1131. His father was dead and he was the owner of a large estate. He searched for men to live according to the Rule, but ended up forming a community of seven maidens. He built accommodation for them on the north side of the church, and others joined, including law brothers and sisters. In 1139 a Priory was built on the land to the south of the church – there isn’t a lot to see of it now. In 1149 Gilbert went to Citreaux to ask the Cistercians to take control. They didn’t – not happy about the women! – but international friendships were made. He was a friend of Thomas Becket, and managed to hang on to the friendship of Henry II. By the time he died on 4 February 1189 there were thirteen houses. He was buried by the dividing wall in the Priory church, and is remembered by a memorial on the church wall installed in 1993.

King John and many of his nobles visited in 1201, he was canonised the following year. The number had doubled by the Dissolution in 1538. The priory closed, some of the church remained. The collapsing chancel and transepts were taken down in 1788, and there was a major rebuilding in 1868 by Brian and Edward Browning of Stamford.

Gilbert is the founder of the only English monastic order, and a founder of village schools. It is good that the parish church on the site of his priory is loved and cared for, and we were welcomed. Teddy bears abseiling down the tower, displays inside, and plenty of cake. (I should have walked down to the Priory to walk off the cake).

The doorway is C12 and the wooden door is C13. The leaflet suggests the ironwork was probably made on site – when you think of the logistics of getting stone, wood, iron to a church and a priory, it is incredible. Apparently the red ochre paintwork on some of the internal arches is also evidence of iron work.

Look up, enjoy the nooks and crannies. The organ is 1860, George Maydwell Holdich (London). It arrived here in 1910, and is rare. The benches are mainly Victorian, on more recent bases.

The banners were created in 2002, a lot of work by local schools. The glass is Victorian from the look of it – apparently one window has a winking Jesus (must go back).

There are three more memorials. Look at the interesting career of Edward Pritchett, the discrepancy in death dates of Mr and Mrs Almond, and the memorial to a Welsh princess. Gwenllian was born in June 1282 at Garth Celyn, Aber, near Bangor. Her father was Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales, and his wife Eleanor de Montfort. They had been married at Worcester in 1278, in the presence of the Scottish King Alexander and England’s Edward I. Eleanor died giving birth to her daughter, and Edward saw the child as a threat to his rule. When she was six months old Edward had her father murdered, and had Gwenllian abducted a year later. He had her brought here to Sempringham, about as far from Wales as she could be. She spent 54 years here as a nun, and died in 1337. We don’t even know if she knew her Royal lineage, but she is remembered. As someone who married  a beautiful girl with Welsh roots, I said a prayer for Gwenllian and her family.

And some faces to make you smile. We continued on to Norfolk – lots more churches to come.

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Silk Willoughby, Lincolnshire – St Denis

15 September 2018. Off to Norfolk for a week’s holiday. We had a couple of Heritage Open Days to enjoy en route. First stop was St Denis church, Silk Willoughby. The deanery has a website, but it doesn’t mention this weekend’s activities. There is another selection of photos here. The church is just off the old A15 – TF 057430

Silk Willoughby was anciently two manors. Willgebi (from old English ‘welig’ and old Scandinavian ‘byr’ meaning ‘the place among willows’)  and Silkebi (Norse ‘selki’ meaning ‘young seal’). Makes you wonder why there are seals, and whether a seal was called Denis, who is the Patron Saint of France. There was a church here at Domesday, but this one was commissioned by William Armyn, Master of the Rolls 1317, Bishop of Norwich 1325-1336, Chancellor of England, and local Lord of the Manor. In his 1872 book the Venerable Edward Trollope, Archdeacon of Stow, wrote “He who erected this tower … must assuredly have been a master of his art, and we can still perceive how boldly he could design, and how freely he could execute what he had conceived.” The door is earlier than the inscription to Robert Oak, churchwarden in 1690 – obviously a modest and retiring churchwarden!

The font is rather lovely – it’s Norman, so about 250 years earlier than the church. The cover is Victorian, 1891. The guide says the font is large “because the Prayer Book used to require that … the Vicar … shall dip the child into the water”. It’s amazing how a Lincolnshire Norman had managed to get hold of a copy of the Prayer Book 500 years before it was written!

Also pre the Prayer Book are the remains of wall paintings – one of which showed St George and the dragon. I am annoyed I failed to get a decent photo of the whole church.

They had a good selection of local history on display – as well as excellent home made cakes – and a nice welcome. Here is a fascinating photo, the rood screen, and some carvings in the oak.

The bench ends are more gorgeous wood. The pulpit is Jacobean – it used to be painted and 3½ feet higher – the lectern is 1910, the old chest much older. I like the carving too.

The Jubilee Window was built and installed by Glen Carter in 2003 to mark the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, and in memory of a churchwarden Kath Armstrong. It includes representations of the village pond and a dove, but suggests that people see different things in the different colours. The East window dates to 1896, designed by Christopher Whall, depicting ‘Christ, the object of our worship, as he may be imagined now waiting for us’.

As we left, Julie stopped to buy books from the old coffin trolley, then I looked up and enjoyed the faces looking back at me. What a marvellous selection of beards.

 

 

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Thornton, Leicestershire – St Peter

The final church was St Peter’s in Thornton – SK 468076.  It has a mention on this website and the church has a website too – interesting how Junction 22 of the M1 is seen as the unifying feature.

We parked by the Lych Gate – installed by the Reverend H. Cooper, Vicar 1904-1919, in memory of his son and the other lads of the village who died in WW1. There are some interesting stories to be told of how people coped after such a loss. There is a lovely path through the churchyard, and we enjoyed the view of the tower (about 1400). There are also some excellent posters about the finances of the Diocese of Leicester – we could do with something similar in Derby. Sadly, when we got to the porch we found that it is several feet above the level of the Nave – too many steps even for a ramp. The congregation person was very apologetic, and we can’t honestly see what they can do at reasonable cost – so Julie sat in the porch with a drink while I did a quick visit.

Please could we remove the drawing-pinned notice from the door which once stood at the entrance to the tower. It (the door not the notice) dates to 1720, made for the churchwardens Robert Jones and John Buckley. The C14 door at the porch is quite impressive. It is reputed to have come from Ulverscroft Priory in Charnwood Forest when that monastic house was dissolved. It makes me wonder how they got it here. The church itself dates to about 1300, the clerestory is about 1500. Burial vaults under the church have not helped with its stability – the crossbars keep it in place.

Also at the west end, the clock mechanism is 400 years old, the work of a blacksmith. There is no clock face on the tower, but the clock, which is wound every three days, uses rope and pulley to strike every hour, its clapper sounding on one of the three church bells above. The lead plaques may have originally certified lead roof repairs.

The Commandment, Creed and Lord’s Prayer boards were cleaned in 1998, having been installed in 1820.

The Chancel was rebuilt in 1864 at the cost of £400, and the organ probably dates to the same time. I like the painting which reminds us what it used to be like at the altar.

As we made our way back up the slope, I had a quick trot round outside. Lovely setting – a walk round the reservoir would be good. We had seen a lot today – home for a sleep!

 

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Measham, Leicestershire – St Laurence

We continued south to Measham, just the other side of the A42. St Laurence church is at SK 335122 – website. It is set back off the main road, and as we walked up we were welcomed by a cleric, who turned out to be Vivien the Team Rector. She was about to give a guided tour, and got the ramp out so we could get in. She said they were working for an HLF grant, and I am very glad to see that since we visited they have been awarded £195,800. Well done – and thank you HLF, you have chosen well. Press release is here.

You can see from the outside stonework that money needs to be spent, and spent urgently – Vivien told us the windows are holding the wall up! Industrial pollution in this former mining community. One sensible suggestion, which I don’t think I’ve seen elsewhere, are tip-up pews so wheelchairs can use the space.

 

The first mention of the church is in 1172 – it is a Chapel of Ease looked after by Richard. By 1270 it was under the care of St Wystan in Repton, then Patronage passed to the Crown at the Reformation. The porch roof has unusual stone ribs. Nice font, and the oak chest (dating to about 1690) has three locks – one key for the Vicar, and one for each Churchwarden. The church was re-pewed in 1842 and a gallery erected – it was then able to seat 610 people. The pit closed in 1986 – details are here.

As we looked round we were encouraged to look up. Enjoy the roof and the figures – note the chap with his bagpipes.

The village still has life – though I don’t suppose ministry here is particularly easy. The War Memorial reminds us of harder times, and I found myself wondering how William Williamson, of the Home Guard, died. This website tells me “Corporal, 11th Leicestershire (Ashby-de-la-Zouch) Battalion, Home Guard. Died 8 February 1942. Aged 25. Son of Daniel and Lucy Eleanor Williamson, of Measford; husband of Gladys Miriam Williamson, of Wednesford, Staffordshire. Buried in Measham Cemetery, Leicestershire. Roman Catholic Section. Grave 1001.” Be nice to do some proper research. Those of us bought up on a diet of Dad’s Army find it difficult to realise that 1,600 Home Guard soldiers lost their lives – source.

The East Window is the work of Mr C. Powell of Highgate. It includes the central figure of Christ in Glory, and contains the diocesan shields of Southwell, Derby and Lichfield – this parish has been in all three. I like the conversion of St Paul.

There are two windows by Francis Skeat, both installed in the early 1960s – he had a studio in St Albans. The St Patrick window shows the shield of the Bishop of Armagh, the ship in which Patrick sailed from Ireland to Gaul, and Patrick giving his blessing to Munster. The small piece of glass underneath shows the dedication of the chapel on 14 December 1967 by the Lord Bishop of Leicester, wearing for the first time in a church, his House of Lords robes.

The St Luke window was given in memory of Dr Hart and his sister Kathleen. The traceries show the pestle and mortar surrounded by pharmacist’s symbols. We have the Good Samaritan and Jesus the healer. We have Miss Hart’s dog and the doctor’s horse – as well as daffodils and canaries. The bricks are Measham Jumb bricks – twice the size of normal bricks to beat the brick tax.

The Abney Window, in memory of William Wootton Abney, and was installed in the late 1860s. Lovely rich colour and design. I didn’t make notes on any of the others – just enjoy the colours! May I suggest a window guide along the lines of the one at Ashby?

Fiona, one of the congregation, photoed northernvicar at work and northernreader filling in her feedback form – we all know HLF need paperwork. We had had a lovely welcome, and look forward to coming back as the work progresses (and if we can help in any way, please get in touch).

We said “thank you” to the rather battered figure watching over us all.

 

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Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire – St Helen

On Heritage Open Day we headed south to Ashby-de-la-Zouch. I don’t suppose that is a line I have ever written before, although I have a vague memory of going to the Castle when the kids were little. We drove down and found St Helen’s church – SK 361167 – they could have done with talking to the local school to organise some extra parking space for HODs. Very good website which links to their Heritage Project – website. What is rather nice is that the Christmas services are listed along with the heritage talks – stick “traditional” in front of it, and everything is historic. Their publicity is extremely good – nothing photocopied here!

Opposite the church is a Community Heritage Centre, excellent access, loos, decoration (aka information boards), and tea – my only complaint was that there was no cake made by nice church ladies (yes, I’m being sexist).

For the church itself they have a selection of leaflets: ‘Tour of the Church’ leaflet, ‘10 things not to miss’, ‘Tour of the Monuments and Plaques’, and ‘Tours of the Windows’ – this blog could take a long time to write. The church was constructed around 1474, but was widened 1878-80 – it is a church worth looking up, as well as looking at many other things. I liked the clock, even though I know nothing about it. The font is Victorian, carved from a single block of local white alabaster. It was designed by Mr Earp of Lincoln. The memorial is to the Reverend Robert Behoe Radcliffe MA, King’s College, Cambridge, Vicar of this parish for four years, before dying at the age of 36. “He was an earnest and affecting preacher, a faithful expounder of the Word of Truth, and adorned by his life the doctrine which he taught.” It is noted that “His ministry here, though short, was abundantly blessed: and that his name may be remembered when those who heard his voice are sunk to dust, this monument is erected by his parishioners.” Rather ironic that he does not make it into the ‘Tour of Monuments’ leaflet. The current parishioners are noted on a very professional “Who are we?” board.

Less uplifting than a fellow of King’s, is this Finger Pillory. “Little is known about it, except it is made of oak”. A rather niche website suggests it was used for minor offences like not listening to the sermon. Must install one!

The alabaster tomb slab remembers Robert Nundi, a tailor who died on 15 April 1526. He left bequests to a church in Lincoln, to several local religious houses, and for mass to be said regularly at St Helen’s in his memory. Tailoring must have been a prosperous business. Another benefactor is Margery Wright, “being born in this town did (out of her charitable and pious disposition) give in her life time £43 to provide gowns yearly for ever for certain aged and poor people here.” In 1603 it is recorded that she married Gilbert Wright of St Clement Dane in London – probably her second marriage. She died in London in 1623, and gifts were still being made by her trustees in the 1880s.

The Hastings Chapel houses monuments to the Hastings family. It is dominated by the table tomb of Francis, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon and his wife Katherine. He died in 1561, she in 1566 – she was Katherine Pole, a direct descendent of George Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV and Richard III. They lie surrounded by the effigies of their children. The tomb was made from local alabaster by Richard Parker of Burton on Trent. It is gorgeous.

I had heard of Katherine Pole, and I have also heard of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon. She was born Selina Shirley in 1707, daughter of 2nd Earl Ferrers, she married Theophilus, 9th Earl of Huntingdon. He died in 1746, when she was 49, and she devoted herself to the evangelical and Methodist movement for the rest of her life. She was close to John and Charles Wesley and George Whitfield, and established a theological college to train evangelical ministers. As the Church of England would not employ these ministers, she set up and funded her own chapels – in my first job, cataloguing the Elias Library of Hymnology at Westminster College, Cambridge, I handled a pile of the hymnbooks for her chapels. The figure is part of a current art project – I believe she is going to Coalville Coop as the art project goes on tour (brilliant idea!). Another part is about St Helen finding the original cross. The pulpit is also by Mr Earp, and there are some lovely altar frontals too – talented people in this place.

The Window Tour leaflet tells the story of Jesus through the glass – from the Annunciation to the Jesus before Pilate (and the comment that they don’t have a Resurrection window!). I didn’t photo all the Victorian glass, enjoy Palm Sunday and Jesus calming the storm. There is some lovely medieval glass, installed in the C19 from various local houses, probably including Ashby Castle.

There is a lot more we could photo – we will be back. I’ve joined their mailing list. And there is a Castle to visit.

We walked up into the town, found a charity bookshop and a café. Need to recharge the batteries. This Heritage is hard work!

 

 

 

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Peartree, Derby – St Thomas

Heritage Open Days are being spread over two weekends this year, but there is not a lot happening in Derby. We did some planning, and on Saturday 8 September started with one church that is open – St Thomas, Peartree – SK 353343 – website. This is what I wrote for our magazines …

Saturday 8 September was Heritage Open Day, so Julie and I went for an explore. We visited St Thomas’ church in Peartree. I cannot claim that Peartree is an area of Derby I had ever visited, but I had chatted with Simon their Vicar about the challenge he faces. Only when I walked into the church did I realise the size of that challenge. The building needs a lot of money spending it on it, the plaster is pealing as the water comes in, there is no decent flooring, the loo is a portaloo, music is a CD player – and the community is a very multi-racial one; is there any point in the Church of England being there?

We found a lively church, members of the church welcoming us, coffee and biscuits, children’s activities, a lady talking to us about their stained glass, an art project to brighten the place up. Within a few minutes Julie was being asked about disabled access, what could they do to make the place better for a wheelchair. We knew several people there, and it was good to chat to them – but it was also lovely when they left us to talk to the people they didn’t know, the members of the community who had come in, because they are the most valuable. Yes, there is every point in the Church of England being there.

The church had a large welcome notice, and we negotiated the way in. A rather lovely old poster.

We found a busy church, and were given a welcome leaflet. The church closed in 2011, but Simon was appointed “Community Minister” to help “reimagine this building and inspire the congregation to re-engage with community”. I’m never sure about language like this – come here and be reimagined. They used the building to store food for local projects, but in 2013 a small group of people gathered for weekly prayer – “envisioning [ugh] how to restore the church”. In 2014 they started high level repairs and a project “to enable more people to engage with the church and its heritage” (I can cope with engage). They have now started a second phrase of building works to restore the east window, create new kitchen and toilets, and a new business plan has been written. They have formed a new monastic Community, focussed on international community, patterns of prayer, hospitality and practical engagement in mission – I wonder how we could do something similar in more traditional parishes. They have plans for a new Community Café, a dedicated prayer space, a larger meeting space, with break-out spaces for smaller groups, new offices, and a hot desking suite on the a new first floor.

The leaflet says they want to learn from their founder. The Reverend Canon Alfred Olivier was the great uncle of Laurence Olivier. He was committed to championing the rights of the disadvantaged and this was the first church in Derby not to charge people to sit down. We too want to be a church that looks out for people on the edge and welcomes those who find life difficult.

I purchased the rather posh guidebook – a beautiful piece of work. It has a photo of Chris our Archdeacon in the introduction – I probably shouldn’t comment that the photo is of a younger Archdeacon (bang goes my promotion)! It gives an excellent picture of the parish. We’re in the old village of Litchurch. The area developed to house the railway workers. In 1861 it had a population of 6,562, but only a single pew in St Peter’s church in the town.

The Archdeacon at the time was Thomas Hill. His daughter Mary married Alfred Olivier. Working together, in 1860 a committee was formed to provide a church, schools, parsonage and endowment. School first, then services there, then St James church was built at one end of the parish. Later the foundation stone for this church was laid in March 1881, and the church opened on St Thomas Day, 21 December 1881. (We now celebrate Thomas on 3 July, which is the anniversary of my ordination). By then the population was 17,476. By 1883 there were two Sunday Schools  – each with 250 children and 50 teachers. Perhaps it is not surprising that Canon Olivier retired in 1891 and died the following year, he was only four years older than I am now. Both Archdeacon Hill and Canon Olivier are remembered in their church. You can imagine them both standing in this pulpit.

The pulpit was designed by the architect Joseph Peacock (1821-1893). According to the book he is often referred to as a ‘rogue’ architect – a Victorian architect who had worked in a highly original style and had no pupils or followers. Most of the churches he designed are in London – St Simon Zelotes in Upper Chelsea is his best surviving work. He designed two churches in Derby – St James was the other one, and that’s now a climbing centre. In this church, enjoy the detailing, the wood, the different stones, and perhaps especially the mosaics behind the altar. There is plenty to enjoy – every pillar is different!

There is some lovely glass too. The St Thomas window was installed in 1893 in memory of Canon Olivier. It is believed to have been made by Mayer of Munich. St Martin, by Heaton, Butler and Bayne of Covent Garden, is in memory of the sons of Sir Francis Ley, who founded the Ley Malleable Castings Ironworks. Christopher and Maurice both died in WW1. The East Window, with Christ in Glory, is also Mayer of Munich. The book tells me that this firm goes back to 1827 when King Ludwig I of Bavaria founded the Royal Stained Glass Establishment. This window was installed in 1881. By the turn of the C20 the Company employed up to 600 craftsmen and became the principal provider of stained glass to larger Roman Catholic churches across Europe.

The Annunciation Window us gorgeous – it is by A.J. Davies, in memory of Mary Elizabeth Olivier. Davies had a studio in Bromsgrove. His work is also in Hereford and Worcester Cathedral. The details are lovely. Could I encourage the parish to put some better photos on their website – they have the photos in the guidebook, put them on line.

There are new artworks which cover the builders hoardings – and I am impressed with their vision. I was also chuffed to see one of my photos on the Deanery board (the one of the three clergy). I’m not sure what else I can do to help – but I’ll do whatever I can.

 

 

 

 

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Northernvicar Walks – July and August 2018

July – 43 miles. Not much of any excitement – walking in Norfolk, which was recorded with the churches I visited, and a trip to the Deanery BBQ in Mickleover. August started much better. A 6 mile walk to the Cathedral via visits, then the two Derwent Valley walks, and the Manchester, Astley Book Farm, and London walks I’ve already blogged.

On Sunday 5 August I drove south to the Leighton Buzzard railway – website. My brother had his Fen End Pit layout there – see his blog. I had a train ride with my  nephew. On the way back I stopped at Crick, just off the M1 at Junction 19, had supper from the Coop and a lovely 4 mile walk beside the canal.

On 11 August I had a lovely day at Heaton Park Tramway in Manchester, that’s in a lovely park, so I walked 3 miles.

A gorgeous walk to Belper on 13 August was 7 miles.

 

3 miles in Burton on Trent on 15 August, and 4 miles in Manchester on 16 August. Julie was at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, so I walked into town and back. An interesting mixture of things to photo.

So for half the month I can walk at least 3 miles a day – and then it went down hill. Wall (blogged elsewhere), then London again. Hannah was giving a TEDx talk, so I walked from St Pancras to Waterloo, then Waterloo to Tower Hill.

We had three days in the North East at the end of the month. I discovered Hulne Park at Alnwick, which was gorgeous, walked beside the Tyne, and had a good explore of Beamish. I talked Trams and Mail with Ian, while sat in a beautifully rebuilt 1928 bus.

I did 90 miles in August, which is more than 2.74 miles a day!!! So at the end of the month I had walked 408 miles in total. By the end of August I should have walked 666, so I am currently 258 down (if I’m aiming for 1,000 miles).

 

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Quarndon, Derbyshire – St Paul

The last church of August. On Friday 31st I had a funeral to do just up the road at Quarndon as Becky the Vicar is on holiday. All straightforward, and an opportunity to blog St Paul’s – SK 335410. They have a website and we work together in Allestree Churches Together.

There is an old C12 chapel, of which one chunk remains – I must walk up and photo it next time I walk through the village (which I do quite often). There is a drawing of the old church inside. Funding for this church was provided in part by a generous donation of land and funding by the Reverend Alfred Curzon, 4th Baron Scarsdale, and donations from others.

Pevsner gives it three lines: “1872-4 by Giles & Brookhouse. Tasteless and restless, aggressively rock-faced, with SW broach spire and Dec, detailing.” I think we can say that Mr Pevsner was not impressed! I think it is an OK church outside and fits well amid the yews. Inside it is a nice open church, with some interesting detailing.

The East window dates to 1890, a very colourful representation of the conversion of St Paul, there are another couple of stained glass windows, and the eagle keeps watch.

The War Memorial stands by the road, and I like the way they have added a new plaque which makes sure the information is known and updated. A Commonwealth War Grave in the churchyard – doing that funeral must have been harder than the one I did.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wall, Staffordshire – St John

I had been to Kidderminster on Monday 20 August to talk trams with an expert. On the way home I stopped at the village of Wall in Staffordshire and picked up a walk leaflet in their car park.

The Romans constructed a marching camp here during AD 47-8, and soon a fort was built to defend the highway – this is the Watling Street, London to Chester. There would soon be a posting station, with an official hotel and fresh horses – one is mentioned as being here in the C3 Antonine Itinerary. A thriving settlement, the Vicus, grew up around the fort. We know the Roman name was Letocetum, Wall comes from the early English word Wealla, a wall or rampart. After the Romans left it remained a defended settlement – there is an early Welsh poem called ‘The Lament of Cynddian’ telling of a raid on the town by a C5 or early C6 chieftain called Moriael of Ercall. Then it fell into ruin, became a valuable source of stone for local builders. Trade eventually moved down the road to Lichfield. Details on the English Heritage website.

I walked past the fort and up to the church of St John – SK 098066 – website. It is a Grade II listed building, built in 1837 by Scott and Moffat – Scott being the young George Gilbert who went on to do the Albert Memorial.

There must have been early places of worship here, perhaps a church was built on the site of a Roman shrine. On top of the hill looking down over the fort is a good place to worship. It is a  simple Gothic church, and the knitters have been busy.

The glass on the south side is by Charles Kempe’s firm – rather a nice one of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

The Lectern looks as if it comes from Kempe’s catalogue, and I wonder if the font did too. For an extra few pounds you can have the shields engraved! I find the additional piece of marble under the war memorial rather poignant – I wonder if they could remember buying the original monument, then went back for a matching piece.

I like the pebble pool for prayers. Allestree has a large metal candle stand. It is never used – people don’t carry matches, and we don’t leave any out (for obvious reasons). Should we replace it with something like this? (Or will I just be told how much the stand cost?).

I continued my walk along Green Lane, Wall Lane, under the railway twice, and back into the Village. The leaflet was good and the route well signposted.

The Roman site was good, though it is now unstaffed and the museum is only open 30 days a year – website of the Friends. Once our country was proud of all its heritage, and even the little sites were staffed and cared for. But we can find money for one-off projects like a Milepost to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I had enjoyed my 3 mile walk, and I’m grateful to the village for the Walk Trail, the open church, and their custodianship of the site – but I still ponder the nature of heritage and community in the C21.

 

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