Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk – Chapel of St Margaret and our Lady

Tuesday 10 July, a day at Oxburgh Hall. This is one of my favourite NT properties. We came here as children, came with our children, came just the two of us to see an open air performance of Macbeth – heads being thrown around in front of the gateway. It was the set for one of my favourite TV series, the 1994 BBC adaptation of John Hadfield’s 1959 novel Love on a branch line. It had this wonderful hall (though some interior shots were filmed elsewhere), beautiful women, jazz, traction engines, and a steam loco (filmed on the North Norfolk Railway. The grid reference of the Hall is TF 744014, I love the fact it is in the village of Oxborough, and this is the website.

The Hall was completed in 1482 for Sir Edmund Bedingfield, and his family have lived here ever since. (For those unable to get up the stairs Henry, the current resident, shows you round on a dvd). The licence to crenellate was granted by Edward VI, though he wasn’t too impressed with the choice of brick (a building material not often used by anyone except the King). Another Sir Edmund, the third son, inherited the house in 1540. He was Steward of Catherine of Aragon’s household, was charged with keeping her under virtual house arrest at Kimbolton, and then organising her funeral procession. Sir Henry (I assume his son) served Queen Mary, and was Elizabeth’s gaoler for a while. When Elizabeth became Queen he retired to Oxburgh, and managed to hold on to his Catholic faith.

I didn’t photo much of the inside of the House, but here are some of the Marian Needlework. They were produced round about 1570 by Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury (Bess of Hardwick), produced at the early stages of Mary’s imprisonment. They are beautiful. I also liked the carved fish and the stained glass in the King’s Room (note the windmill). I didn’t climb into the Priest’s Hole.

Sir Henry’s son, Sir Henry, managed to get on the right side of Charles I. He and his sons fought on the King’s side at Marston Moor, he spent time in the Tower, and for much of this period the house was almost abandoned. During the 1680s, the 2nd Baronet, “Great Sir Harry” started the rebuilding. He was OK under Charles II and James II, but under William and Mary he was fined, not allowed to travel more than five miles from Oxburgh, and his sons were educated in Flanders. So it went on.

Major work was done on the Hall from 1830, there is a collection of wallpaper dating to 1859. Like all these families, the C20 was not easy – and Sir Edmund Bedingfield put the Hall onto the market in 1950. It came to the National Trust in 1952. In 2016 a window suddenly dropped into the Courtyard – hence the miles of scaffolding and several million pound now being spent. You can support the roof appeal here. We went out onto the roof, which is always very special. The grass is not usually as parched as this.

Just round the corner is the Chapel. Obviously a Catholic family needed their own chapel. It has been attributed to Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52) and was completed in 1838.

The most stunning thing is what the guidebook describes as “the C17 Flemish altar and reredos”. The altar table depicts three scenes from the Passion of Christ, these being the Mocking of Christ, the Deposition and the Flagellation. The semi-octagonal tabernacle is flanked by images of the Conversion (left) and Execution (right) of St Barbara. The triptych which was imported by the 7th Baronet in the 1870s was carved in Antwerp circa 1520-1530 (according to the website – which makes it C16). The elaborate painting and gilded carvings depict scenes from the Passion of Christ. The artwork on the wings is attributed to Pieter Coeke van Aelst the Elder (1502-1550) and when open shows scenes from the Passion and the Life of St James of Compostella. When closed the wings show the four fathers of the church, Saints Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory and Jerome. The triptych was acquired by the National Trust in 1982. There are better photos here.

There’s some nice stained glass – though I’m annoyed my camera refused to focus on the archer, and the woodwork at the back is rather good.

The “elegant recumbent effigy” is of the 6th Baronet – the one we have to thank for the Victorian work.

A War memorial too.

The parterre and garden are gorgeous.





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Cambridge – Selwyn College

In Cambridge for the day. I left northernreader in Heffers bookshop and walked across to Selwyn College. Some of my earliest memories are of staying with Granny and Granddad – Joan and Len Hoskison  – who kept 23 Grange Road as a College hostel. I remember the noise as undergrads returned from hall. You can read more about those days in my mum’s book – Backstairs Cambridge, by Jane Barham (long out of print, but copies are available). Here is 23 Grange Road.15 years later I started at Selwyn, and my room was I15. A few weeks later I met a beautiful young lady who lived on H staircase – and the rest, as they say, is history. Cripp’s Court has been refurbished since then – it’s in better condition that I am.

I crossed the road and entered through the Porters’ Lodge. The Greek over the gate is 1 Corinthians 16.13b “Quit ye like men, be strong” in the Authorised Version – “play the man, be strong”. Julie came to College in the third or fourth year after women had been admitted – she often muses on the fact it was 1 woman to 6 men in Cambridge in those days, so why did she end up with me?

The College was founded in memory of Bishop George August Selwyn, first bishop of New Zealand, later Bishop of Lichfield. He died in 1878 and the first buildings were ready for the first undergraduates in 1882 – imagine how long it would take these days! Julie and I were present for the Centenary Garden Party in 1982. The foundation charter specified that the college should “make provision for those who intend to serve as missionaries overseas and… educate the sons of clergymen”. The chapel was built in 1895 before the dining hall (in 1909), and Chapel attendance was compulsory for students from the College’s foundation until 1935. I was a Baptist when I went to Cambridge, and it was here I learned to appreciate Anglican services, especially Choral Evensong. The choir was good in our day (too good for me to sing with), now it is excellent – have a look at the college website for their recordings (and much more information).

Julie and I graduated in 1983, and haven’t been back very much since then. They were very generous with financial help when I was training for the Anglican priesthood, and I will never forget being invited to preach one Sunday evening, a good 15 years ago now. With the Reverend Professor Owen Chadwick, and Canon John Sweet – both now of blessed memory – in the congregation, I did wonder whether I had anything useful to say! We also made our mark on College history when my dad went to do his MPhil (and then PhD) in the mid 80s. It was the first time a father had followed his son through the college and when Hannah was born she was the first child of two Selwynites, whose grandfather was a current member of the College (that will take a lot of beating).

The grass of Old Court is looking parched. I walked across to the Hall, and explained to a young lady in the cafeteria that I had been in College in the past (actually long before she was even born). Old Court was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield, best Gothic Revival style. I seem to remember I was one of those fined when sprouts were thrown at a Christmas Dinner and the portrait of George Augustus Selwyn had to be cleaned. There is also a lovely portrait of Owen Chadwick, Master in our day – an amazing man, wonderful scholar, and a man for whom people mattered. At our MA ceremonies, Owen was acting as Vice Chancellor, conferring degrees. As his procession left the Senate House he caught sight of my granddad in the gallery. He stopped and doffed his hat. Whenever he bumped into one of my parents in Cambridge, he would always ask after us.

I walked past the Master’s Lodge and went into Chapel. It does not feel as if anything has changed. The posters are of a better quality than we could manage in 1980 (I was one of the technical ones – I had a typewriter), but there are still gowns hanging by the door.

The Chapel was consecrated on St Etheldreda’s Day in 1895. Apparently “by then the stalls were completed as seats, and included the impish carved heads of Lord Morley, Lord Salisbury, Sir William Harcourt, and other politicians prominent in the general election of 1895” – website – can’t say I’ve ever noticed. We used to call the eagle “Horace”.

There is an Upper Chapel at the North East corner where weekday services used to take place. I remember looking down on the statues. The east end was intended to have a reredos.  Nikolaus Pevsner suggested that the altar and Kempe’s window be linked by an ascending Christ, with black floating figures on the white wall. He recommended a Swedish artist, Karin Jonzen, for the work – obituary. The figures were dedicated by the Bishop of Ely on the eve of Ascension Day 1958.


There was a plan to fit stained glass in all the windows, but the money ran out. The ones that were installed are rather nice.

Lots of memories – gratitude to Chapel, and to Richard Hunt, our Chaplain in 1980. He actually introduced me to Julie – so I have a lot to thank (blame) him for!

There is a new sundial in Old Court, on D staircase, but I do wonder about a sundial so complicated it needs detailed instructions.

I had a wander round the gardens. I don’t remember them being this lovely in our day. They’ll be even lovelier once it rains.


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Wighton, Norfolk – All Saints’

We went for a ride on the Wells and Walsingham Railway. It was built in 1982 by Lt Cmd Roy Francis, a veteran of the Arctic convoys. It is 10¼ inch gauge, and runs about 4 miles. We hadn’t visited since the children were young, and had a good ride today. However it feels as it needs a lot of work on the track, and it is all looking a bit shabby. They were friendly, but I hope it has someone dynamic who can find new sources of finance and give the line the renovation and new lease of life that it needs.

One of the churches I photoed from the train was All Saints church Wighton – TF 941399 – so we drove home that way.

The Diocese of Norwich has a dedicated web address for church visiting, which redirects you here. Unless you know this visiting page exists you won’t easily find it if you look at the Diocese’s website. The section “Who we are” says “Throughout the Diocese are hundreds of stunning, historic church buildings – around 650 in all – which are actively used for worship.  We provide support to those caring for them and creating welcoming spaces, and preserving each one for future generations.” If you click on “publications” you will find “Exploring Norfolk Churches: Your free guide” and various church trail leaflets – but would you think to look at “publications”? I have emailed the Communications department to suggest a link to “visiting” would be a good idea – and they have replied agreeing with me. (They also have a new website under construction).

I have now found a Wighton church website which says the church is closed for renovation. It opened in May, it’s now July. You can find the church here on Simon’s church site. He visited in 2005.

The church has a lovely guidebook, and reminds us that these are not just small Norfolk villages. In Domesday Wighton was a wealthy manor which had been seized by William the Conqueror, bringing him revenues from rents sand other assets of £24 a year. For the next 300 years it was the centre of the local hundred, an area of 18 villages, and was led out to a series of noble families. The locals seem to have prospered. In summer 1349 it was hit by the Black Death and 40% of the population died. In the early C15 the villagers decided to rebuild the church. As the guide says, this was “scarcely necessary” as the existing church must have been more than big enough. The villagers paid for the nave, and they persuaded Norwich cathedral priory to rebuild the chancel. We know the names of some of the village families, most of whom were probably donors, and the Lord of the Manor from 1397 until his death at the end of 1414 was John Winter, Henry VI’s Receiver General and controller of his household.

The porch is rather splendid –  I wonder if we will ever get back to the time when someone lives in the room above it. I rather fancy retiring to a Vicar’s flat above the porch (and Julie can fill the inside of the church with books).

The interior of the church is so spacious – so much space they have filled the side aisles with old farm equipment (but it would be sensible to have some labels explaining what is there) and a coffin trolley.

They have done some research into the Masons’ Marks – there are 200 examples of 14 different devices. We know that two teams of masons worked (one on the north side, one on the south), and that many of the masons also worked on nearby churches. There are matching marks at St Nicholas Chapel, King’s Lynn, which was one of the most high profile building projects in Europe at the time – that’s another church to visit. More research says Wighton was under construction from about 1417. The building of the Chancel appears in the accounts of Norwich Cathedral – it cost £20 to demolish the old one in 1440, the new roof cost £16 in 1449, and the glazing of chancel windows (1455) cost £4 10s 0d. The project was overseen by James Woderove, head mason at the Cathedral, and one of the elite mason-architects of C15 England. He was later recruited by Henry VI to work on the chapel at Eton. Work was still continuing on the porch between 1494 and 1497.

The octagonal font also dates from the C15. Among the heraldic devices chiselled into it, are the instruments of the cross – the nails, ladder, hammer, spear and sponge. Most of the rest, and lots of other images, were lost in the Reformation. You can imagine a huge rood screen.

There is a little medieval glass. Apparently John Wighton, the glassmaker who was also known as John Harrowe, was born in the village in the 1380s. His workshop in Norwich produced some of the most important stained glass of the C15 including “the spectacular east window at East Harling”, so that’s another one to visit.

There are tombs and graves of the Bacon and Bedingfield families, the resident village gentry at the time. The coat of arms is that of George IV (reigned 1820-30), painted on board and signed by R. Goodman (I like the idea of “Goodman – painter, decorator and illustrator of Royal Arms”).

At the height of a storm in November 1965 the tower collapsed. No one was hurt, but there was no money to rebuild. In the 1970s a Canadian businessman, Leeds Richardson, visited Wighton while researching his family tree. He offered to pay for it – and rebuilding was completed during the long hot summer of 1976. Our thanks to him. The external tower door remained in situ, and five of the heraldic shields which had fallen from the crenelations were reset above it.

They have now finished repairing and restoring the nave roof – so the building is probably in better state now than it has been for most of its 600 years. It is used for worship about once a fortnight – I doubt they ever fill the church (and that probably doesn’t matter), but I hope there is enough of a worshipping community to keep the church alive for another 600 years.







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Appleton, Norfolk – St Mary

We are in Norfolk – staying at Gayton. There are lots of churches in Norfolk, so I could blog to my heart’s content. I’ll start with a derelict one! On Sunday 8 July Julie wanted to visit the Lavender Farm at Heacham. Julie likes lavender. Peter knows when he is beaten. We drove north towards Sandringham, and saw a ruined church just off the B1440 on the right – grid ref TF 706273. It is next to Appleton Farm, and there were no display boards or information. I looked it up later. For any Norfolk or Suffolk churches you start with the work of Simon Knott – website. There were only 25 residents by the middle of the C18, and the church was in ruins long before that. The manor house had burned down in 1707. It is a round-towered church, and that probably dates to around 1000 AD, so early Saxon. Three graves – including one for Agnes Paston. I know there’s some Paston letters, and there’s details of this part of Norfolk history here.  How Agnes fits in, I have no idea. It felt a very peaceful place on a beautiful Sunday morning. (I liked the Lavender Farm too, but that’s another story).


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Heckington, Lincolnshire – Mill

Having been to the stunning church, we went to Heckington windmill – a unique eight-sail windmill beside the station, signal box and level crossing (though I still think the new H&S-complaint signal is hideous). The ‘box is 1876 Great Northern Railway, and Grade II listed – photos here.

We had visited the mill in the early 90s – while at Lincoln Theological College we purchased a Lincoln Mills Passport and visited them all. I believe my family were the first to get their silver Dusty Miller badge. I can’t find a photo of it, and I must have lost the original – apparently Sussex had one too. Gareth aged about 4, knew more about mills than most people – and I think it was here that he told the miller how his mill worked. The mill’s website is here.

The mill was originally built in 1830 by Edward Ingledew of Gainsborough as a five-sailed mill. A severe thunderstorm blew off the cap and sails, and it was restored in 1892 by John Pocklington using a cap and eight sails from a windmill in Boston. It would be fascinating to know how they moved everything. The bricks from the Boston mill were used to build the mill house here – now a lovely safe. It worked until 1946, and was purchased by the County Council in 1953 and made safe. It was restored in 1986 and worked for 13 years – during which time we visited. There were major repairs in 2004, and more were needed by 2010. In 2013 they got a £1.4 million HLF grant, and have done major work. Just a shame that high winds in June this year mean more work is needed on the sails before she can work properly again.

What they have done is superb. A good car park with gravel surface, but with the plastic grid that keeps the stones in one place and means you can push a wheelchair. Accessible loo. Accessible brewery – hence the accessible loo. Accessible tea room in Miller’s House (with another accessible loo). Accessible welcome area and shop, disabled lift to the exhibition, and access to the ground floor of the mill. Julie thinks it is the first time she has got into the ground floor of a mill in her wheelchair – Esmé also thinks it is the first time she has been onto the ground floor of the mill. We did wonder, the good ladies at reception and myself, whether we could utilise the sack hoist and get her to the top … .

I had a climb and a photo – just a shame I couldn’t get out the top. A good welcome – HLF money very well spent.



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Heckington, Lincolnshire – St Andrew (again)

Last time we visited Heckington church was 4 years ago – read my blog. When we called in then there was a good bookstall, so my wife was happy. This time (Saturday 7 July 2018) Julie stayed in the car while I went to check – but they were preparing for a concert, so the books were packed away. I had a quick visit round the church – didn’t spend too long (one should not leave pets (or wives) in hot cars).

Last I time I commented they needed a new guidebook – they have a new guidebook. Rather than a tatty piece of A4 paper, they also have a colour A4 leaflet – I must do a new one for Allestree this summer. It felt like a church with a new lease of life – nice prayer corner in the North Transept, but who made the statue?

My only complaint is that the tatty leaflet told me there was a polar bear in the East Window – the new guide doesn’t. I found the polar bear! Top left of the Alpha and Omega, and note the Whale below him.

The window shows the Te Deum – “We praise thee, O God : we acknowledge thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship thee : the Father everlasting” – and the Benedicite – “O all ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord : praise him, and magnify him for ever.” In case you are wondering where polar bears and whales come in:

O ye Ice and Snow, bless ye the Lord …

O ye Whales, and all that move in the Waters, bless ye the Lord : praise him, and magnify him for ever.

Lots of lovely settings can be listened to on youtube. James Thomas’ Benedicite has been recorded by St Edmundsbury Cathedral choir on their CD This Holy Temple – details here.

Here are details from two other windows – The War Memorial Window, and the window in the South Transept which depicts the building of the church (you can see the complete windows on the previous blog). One job for this summer is to get Rob to teach me how to photo stained glass windows properly.

The church builders include Richard de Potesgrave (in purple robes). He was court cleric and Confessor to Kings Edward II and III, and came here as Rector in 1308. He probably built the chancel and sacristy at his own expense. He is explaining his plans to Henry Lord Beaumont (the gent with the Edwardian moustache), who was Lord of the Manor, and Henry’s sister Isabella de Vesei has the yellow headdress. Henry and Isabella were cousins of Edward II, she had been a Lady in Waiting to Queen Eleanor of Castile and Queen Isabella. The three of them were involved in building some of the nave and south transept. Edward III visited in 1330 – and would have seen something very similar to the church we see now.

I won’t describe the church again – but feast your eyes on the South Porch and the Easter Sepulchre – note the sleeping soldiers.

Now get ready for a trip to a disabled-accessible windmill. Julie, still reading in the car, did not realise the excitement in store.




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Northernvicar Walks – Snowdon in June

When we moved to Derby we ended up on the British Heart Foundation fundraising committee – some readers of this blog will know we have Dilated Cardiomyopathy in the family, our son Gareth had a heart transplant in 2004, a transplant which gave him another nine years of life. The BHF group organised a weekend – and I found myself saying “I’ll climb Snowdon with you.”

I was up early on Saturday 2 June 2018, left home about 0515 and had an easy drive across to North Wales. I got to Llanberis about 8, treated myself to a bacon roll from the station café, and watched the trains – I want a ride.

Other BHF folk started arriving by 0820, but it was 0900 before we were all together and able to set off. The first mile or so is steep, then it got slightly easier.

There were lots of people walking, but the queue for the half way café wasn’t too bad. Refreshed, we continued on. It was quite misty, so it was ‘head down and keep going’ – I prefer my solitary walks.

We started being passed by people on their way down – “another 15 minutes” they all said. It was a long 15 minutes, but eventually the signal for the station shone through the darkness. The top was like Piccadilly Circus on a bad day – a queue for the trig point, a queue for the loo, and such a queue for the café I gave up.

We headed down about 1, and the fog cleared. Then the views were lovely. We walked together, or in small groups, and had some good chats. More tea on the way down, and an enterprising person was selling ice lollies at the top of the road – they must have made a fortune.

Back down about 4.15 – with a sense of achievement. We ate cake! According to Strava I had walked 9.66 miles, ascended 2,975 feet, and descended 2,978 feet (my car must have sunk!). The mountain is 3,283 feet high.

The others were making a weekend of it and doing the world’s longest zip wire tomorrow – what a shame I have to work on a Sunday. I wandered back to the car, and a chap waved at me as I left the car park. I could hear a funny sound, stopped in a laybye just outside the village, and found that my rear passenger side tower was shredded. I phoned Green Flag at 1705, Nicole was lovely and efficient, I was collected by Gwalia Recovery before 1800, taken to Caernarvon, a new tyre was fitted (I snoozed), and I drove home. When I sorted the money out later in the month I had raised over £1,000 before gift aid. Chuffed! If you wish to make a donation to the BHF, please do – website.

I will quietly hide the fact that I only walked 33 miles in June – so now I’m 221 down (if I’m aiming for 1,000 miles).



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Grindleford, Derbyshire – St Helen

On my Baslow-Grindleford circular walk, see the last blog, I stopped at St Helen’s church – SK 246779. It is one of the churches open on the Peak Pilgrimage – website – with a welcomed loo. It is also on the Derbyshire churches website.

The church was started about 1910, and was going to be a large Gothic revival church. The chancel was finished, the First World War intervened, and the rest was never completed. The guide leaflet says it “would have been a fine building. It would also have been expensive to maintain and difficult to heat.” It’s a nice Lady Chapel – the architects were “Sutton and Gregory” says derbyshirechurches – but I have no idea who they were. The nave and entrance were added later.

They have got a building that is probably the right size. It is open and welcoming, can be used for exhibitions, concerts and meetings. I am not sure about the cross design on the pulpit fall and altar cloths – I think the design is too cluttered.

The glass is by Arthur Anselm Orr, and there are some lovely photos here. There are a few references to him on line, but nothing that tells me much about him without subscribing or digging a lot deeper.

Grindleford Community Shop is in the church vestry – and they do not close at 5. I appreciated tea and cake, and a nice welcome. Go and say Hello.


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Derwent Valley Heritage Way 3 – Grindleford to Baslow

I walked the first 5 miles of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way on Monday 1 August 2016, and the second 3 on Tuesday 25 April 2017 – if you want to find them on northernvicar, click on Derwent Walk on the right hand side of this screen. On Wednesday 30 May 2018 I drove to Baslow and parked by the Village Hall – SK 258722 – with the plan of walking a circle – the return leg being along the Heritage Way. A rather damp and foggy afternoon, but honeysuckle lifted the spirits. Up through the village and then up to Wellington’s Monument – 417 feet in the first mile. Enjoy the blossom and the buttercups. I enjoyed the bench.

The Wellington Monument was provided by Lt Col Dr E.M. Wrench of Baslow in 1866, in memory of F.M. Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. There is an earlier Nelson Monument a couple of miles to the east. There is information about both here. Then I walked along Baslow Edge, across the road, and along Curbar Edge. It’s a ridge of gritstone, and the views would normally be lovely.

I crossed the A625 and went down through The Haywood to Grindleford church – SK 246779 – I’ll blog this as the next one. Part of this route is the Peak Pilgrimage – website – perhaps I’ll do that when I finish this Walk (at this rate the Second Coming will come first). Grindleford Community Shop is in the church vestry – and they do not close at 5. I appreciated tea and cake, and the loo.

I joined the Heritage Way by this wonderful signpost, and walked on the east side of the River Derwent through Horse Hay Coppice and Froggatt Wood into Froggatt itself. A Grade II C17 bridge.

Then on the west side of the river and along to Curbar, crossing the A625 again at Froggatt New Bridge. There is a display board advertising the Culver Weir project – with audio trails and all sorts of material on their website, but I can’t get it to work. Another case of money (I wonder how much money?) spent on digitisation and websites that, after a few years, seem to die (or at least get very ill). At least a book can be safely stored away, easily accessible. I found this website which says that the records are stored in Calver and at the County Record Office, and you can watch one of the youtube videos here. Then going onto youtube there are a selection of other videos – search for “Calver Weir”.

The Listing website says the “Calver weir, goit and the water management system [are] associated with Calver Mill. The mill itself is a Grade II listed building. The existing mill building represents the latest phase of the cotton mill but earlier mill buildings on the site are documented and mapped from at least 1752. The weir is situated in the River Derwent approximately three quarters of a kilometre downstream from the mill – [I wish Heritage England would use English miles]. The goit (water channel) runs almost parallel to the Derwent from New Bridge in the north, to the wheel house in the south. The weir was built in the first half of the 19th century by the family of Sir William Heygate, to serve Calver cotton mill. It is built of large squared grit stone blocks and forms an elongated reversed S, a shape designed to minimise the impact of flood waters. This weir replaced an earlier one close to the current site. A retaining wall, also of gritstone blocks, survives along the western bank of the river and would have served to prevent the erosion of the bank from the water as it flowed, at an angle, from the weir. … The goit provided a managed flow of water that enabled the amount of water which reached the mill wheel to be controlled, reducing the impact of flooding on the operation of the mill. The original goit appears to have been cut sometime between 1799 and 1804. … Map evidence shows clearly the changes in the water management system over time.” To be honest you can’t see much of this as you walk along, and visitors are not welcome at Calver Mill. Searching for photos, I found a collection of John Piper photos, now in the Tate – website. Before I got to Calver Mill (which is just across the river from Curbar) I passed through Stocking Farm Caravan site – I do find these sites unattractive. The loo block had a notice pointing out it is only for people staying there – what a different attitude to the church at Grindleford – and the old barn was once used for worship.

There is an underpass under the A623, then the last bit across fields brought me to the attention of the cows. I talked to them as I walked. Into Baslow, over the bridge – Grade I, 1608 – passed the church (already blogged), and back to the car. A 10 mile walk – 4 of them along the Derwent Valley Walk.



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Nottinghamshire – Papplewick Pumping Station

Papplewick Pumping Station is one of those places I have meant to visit for years. It is just north of Nottingham – SK 584521, website. We drove over on the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon 28 May with a little bit of muttering from the Boss about why we were going to a pumping station she wouldn’t be able to get her wheelchair in.

Disabled parking, easy access into the Superintendent’s House and the displays there, then flat access to the rest of the site. As Nottingham grew the new for water and decent sanitation grew as well. In 1845 the various small local water companies joined together to form the Nottingham Waterworks Company, with Thomas Hawksley as their Engineer (he deserves a capital E). He was also Engineer to the Gas Company, then moved to London in 1852 and practised as a Civil Engineer. There is a page about him here, apparently 30 British towns, and several more abroad, have him to thank for their water supply. He built a reservoir here in 1879, then Marriott Ogle Tarbotton, Nottingham’s Borough Surveyor from 1859, became Waterworks Engineer in 1880 and supervised the building of this pumping station – website. This part of Nottinghamshire is situated over Bunter sandstone (I think Lord Peter Wimsey) which acts like a giant sponge, soaking up, storing and naturally filtering impurities from the water.

We started with a WW1 encampment. We had a fascinating chat to the girls and to the Padre. I had a phone call from one of next year’s brides and was my normal lovely self – I did feel I couldn’t moan about brides who phone on a bank holiday Monday afternoon while I was talking to a man who served in the trenches. They had some interesting material on display as well.

The Boiler Room is quite amazing – six boilers. Three were needed when the station was working, now one is fired – about 6 tons of coal a day. 29 feet long, 7 feet in diameter, each holding 3,200 gallons of water.

We walked past the greenhouse, buying some plants – the trouble with buying plants is that you then need to plant them!

Julie sat in the sun and I went into the Pumping Station itself (this bit wasn’t accessible, which is a shame (though though it is understandable)). The phrase “Civic Pride” springs to mind – the days when local government was something to be proud of (not something to be derided and cut).  If you want to work out which bit is which, look at their website – just feast your eyes on this riot of colour and water imagery. (Whenever I go and do a baptism visit I say to the families that the Prayer over the Water has every piece of water imagery they could find in the bible – I think the compilers were influenced by Papplewick).

“So, Mr Tarbotton, tell me again why your pumping station needs stained glass windows?”

The Beam Floor at the top, where you can watch the stately progress of the beams, up and down, almost mesmerising. (As a child we used to visit Stretham Old Engine in Cambridge – which I see is open when we’re on holiday nearby in July).

Then we had a walk round the Cooling Pool. They needed a supply of cold water to condense the steam in the Engine House, and the warm water needs return somewhere to cool. The central fountain has a separate water supply and is used to top up the water level of the pool. The model engineers were having fun sailing their boats (and vacuum cleaners).  We also enjoyed the other displays, places to buy things (too many second-hand dvds), and café.

Finally I left Julie to watch the WW1 folk while I went for a bus ride to the Reservoir. The website tells me that about the bus that takes me there, but doesn’t tell me about the reservoir except that it dates to 1879. The guide told us how many million bricks, how many gallons – but I didn’t write it down. It cracked after only a few years of use – and we had an interesting debate about what you can do with it now it no longer holds water. The atmosphere was incredible. The chimney is in the distance on the top photo, you realise quite how far ‘up’ you have driven.

It was a smashing afternoon – we’ll be back!


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