Greystoke, Cumbria – St Andrew

We drove back along Ullswater to Pooley Bridge, then cut north across the A66 and to the village of Greystoke and St Andrew’s church – NY 443307. Quite a sizeable village and, to quote Pevsner, “a major church, broad but markedly deficient in height.” An early church here, perhaps linked to the Castle which was apparently built by the Viking leader Lyulph, was re-founded as a collegiate church (one of only two in the region) in 1382, perhaps a response to the Black Death, which carried off half the English clergy. Then it had a master, seven chaplains, and six chantry priests. Now it is in a benefice with three other churches – website.

The church looks C16 or even C17 – there was a Chancel repair in 1645, and restorations of 1818 and 1848. The tower was certain re-clad, if not re-built, in 1848. We parked by the rather nice gate post, and entered.

You enter by the north door, and your eye is drawn to the tent in the south aisle. I quite understand why a heated tent with seats for the congregation, all together in one place, is so much better than a dozen people scattered across a huge, freezing church – but I’m not sure I would want to worship here. I suppose it would be much more expensive to get permission to close off the Chancel to make a warm room, or do something with one of the chapels – perhaps the tent is the best idea. Or is it time to hand the whole pile to the Churches Conservation Trust, and join with the local non-conformist chapel? I wish I knew the answer.

At last we have a decent guidebook, and a welcome leaflet. “We hope you will enjoy you visit to our church. [I’m not a fan of “our church”, but at least the text continues …] This building is open to everyone of any faith or none, to explore and enjoy.” It contains an invitation to the 9.15 service which takes place every Sunday (same time each week is so much easier) , and it also suggests that St Kentingern’s church at Mungrisdale, St Andrew’s church at Dacre and Matterdale church are all worth visiting. Joined up thinking! Alleluia!!!!! The guidebook suggests that each aisle would originally have been taken up with Chantry Chapels – so there’s the precedent they need fot the DAC when they try and replace the tent with a chapel. Imagine how busy a place like this would have been before the Reformation – constant masses being said in each of the chapels – and wonder what we lost. You can see the size of the Nave from these photos.

The rood beam, which bridges the Chancel arch, is probably the oldest thing in the church, and carries floral emblems representing the five wounds of Christ, and a selection of angels. There is some old woodwork in the Chancel itself, and I missed the misericords. The East window is a collection of medieval glass. Legend has it that it was removed in haste and buried as Cromwell approached, then restored in 1848. “The restorers had difficulty in reassembling the pieces of glass in the original order and, where pieces were missing, they substituted pieces from the other windows which had been shattered by Cromwell’s men.” Note the red devil between the feet of a bishop.

We have an old sedilia in the south wall of the Chancel, and the Baron William and his grandson John lie in effigy in a recess in the Chancel which once housed the tomb of John Dacre, the last Provost of the medieval college. William is dressed like the Black Prince at Canterbury. Apparently the effigies were in the churchyard for 250 years, hence the water marks and the broken alabaster – the leaflet says that alabaster was used by local farmers for rubbing on sheep scab and for sharpening scythes.

I think that all the other glass I photoed is Victorian. I like the various images in this one of  Jesus teaching, with a child who is not concentrating on his words.


The Resurrection window in the north wall by the organ is by Charles Kempe., and we have the fountain of life, peacock-feathered angels, Jerusalem in the background, Mary, and is that the casket of myrrh the three wise men gave thirty years earlier? I often wonder if the women were carrying it on the Sunday morning, and what happened to it when the tomb was empty.

There are some fascinating hatchments and memorials – you guessed it, the one I will look up is the South Mahratta Railway in India. It was formed on 1 June 1882, and its first line was a metre gauge line 40 miles long from Bellary to Hospet. It opened in 1884. Twso years later the Mysore State Railway came into the company. In 1888 the line was extended towards Portuguese Goa, and a line ran from coast to coast. Then it merged with the Madras Railway. I went to an York University Institute of Railway Studies talk a few years ago on the links between British and Indian Railway Companies – fascinating.


The Madonna and Child was carved by two German PoWs, and painted by a third. They were stationed at the Castle at the end of WW2, but their names are not given in the guide. They simply worked with a penknife on a lump of holly root given by the Rector. The crucified Christ is the work of Josephine de Vascanellos. It represents the words of Jesus to the good theif who hung beside him “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” It looks out of the window into the future, from time to eternity. The font is rather nice, but not mentioned.

A quick explore the churchyard, but rather too cold for much more.

Back to Penrith for coffee and to warm up. Clare dropped me at the station for the 1621 Virgin Train to Crewe and London. Signal failure meant we left at 1731. I had a book. We arrived in Crewe at 1908, and they had let the 1907 East Midlands Train to Derby go. Several of us got very cross, but there was no station supervisor and no one gave a damn. Bring back British Rail – it wasn’t perfect, but at least it was one network. The next train to Derby was at 2045. That spoiled a nice day


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Martindale, Cumbria – St Martin

We continued up Martindale and came to the Old Church, St Martin’s, NY 434184 – website. This has a regular Evensong in the summer. There were hundreds of names in the visitors books of both these Martindale churches. I know it is January, but why are there no leaflets suggesting other churches worth visiting, offering people pointers for prayer, or even explaining the Christian faith – surely missed opportunities. I have commented before that there is a “Tourism” page on the Carlisle Diocesan website, but you need to know (1) you are in Carlisle diocese, and (2) that you click on “Our churches”. Search for “Cumbria church tours” in google, and nothing jumps out. Search for “churches to visit in Cumbria” and one of the results is this site – so that’s something. (Good thing we don’t leave church publicity to the churches!).

Even on a cold January morning, this was a special spot. There is an ancient yew in the churchyard, which suggests it is an old spot – and there is a written record of this church apparently dates to 1220. Despite restoration, this is a C17 building – and look at the date by the door.

Inside is lovely, and look at the date on the altar table.

The Pulpit is 1634, and the font could be a hollowed out Roman altar.

We went out to the churchyard – it was cold!


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Martindale, Cumbria – St Peter

Bampton to Martindale is not very far as the crow flies – a bit further when Clare is driving. Pooley Bridge, up beside Ullswater – we have promised ourselves a trip on the steamer later in the summer – and I was glad she was driving the zig zag to St Peter’s church, NY 436192 – website. I think it has a fortnightly service.

The architect was J.A. Cory, 1880-2 – he’s another local church builder. Pevsner says “a prim Victorian church sits uneasily here” – it didn’t feel prim (nothing prim would have survived all these Cumbrian winters). It was built of the local Hallin Fell stone, has some nice wood, including a massive parish chest. I wonder if the chest was in an earlier church, and how many horses it took to get it up the road.

Just one set of memorials. What gives this church the edge are the windows. Apart from the east window, they are all by Jane Gray. Charles Barrand, a previous Vicar, led the project. We came across Jane’s work at Shrewsbury Abbey (though in that blog I spelt her with an e), and there is a report about her – website. She has written a book called “Playing with Rainbows” (Ellingham Press, 2011).

The west window celebrates the Benedicite – O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him for ever.


I was going to take you through each window, but someone else – website – has done that. Just enjoy these lovely images.

Outside we had a wander round – wondering how they bury in so much rock, and singing “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?” Why can I remember the hymns of my childhood, but not remember what happened yesterday?



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Bampton, Cumbria – St Patrick

Let’s start 2018’s blogs with a day (Tuesday 16 January) to escape to Cumbria to see Clare. There was a light sprinkling of snow on the ground, and we drove out to Bampton – St Patrick’s church is at Bampton Grange, NY 521180. There is a village website – here – and a Parish Newsletter. I smile that Thursday’s event in the diary is “10 am Bus to Penrith” and Sunday’s is “10 am Holy Communion” – but it is sad that next Sunday’s service which, I assume, is in another church in a nearby village, isn’t listed.

The church was rebuilt 1726-8, and remodelled in 1884-5. Originally there may have been collegiate seating, and the woodwork is rather nice. The Victorian restoration was by C.J. Ferguson – Pevsner describes him as “a resourceful as well as a sensitive architect.” Wikipedia tells me he is Charles John, 1840-1904 – his work includes lots of churches, we mentioned him at Lanercost, and work on Bamburgh Castle. Shall we tell the good people of Bampton that Advent has ended?

At the west end is a portrait of Edmund Gibson. Born in Bampton, he was Bishop of Lincoln 1716-23, Bishop of London 1723-48, a friend of Robert Walpole, one of the trustees of the Foundling Hospital, and is buried in All Saints church, Fulham. His parents’ memorial is in church too.

A very detailed churchyard plan, and a rather nice painting – no idea of the artist.

A lot of names on the War Memorial, and some interesting memorials. I wonder if I’d have been happy spending 46 years ministering to one village?

There are two lovely angels carved in stone, and some lovely carved woodwork. The reredos was carved by Mr Grisenthwaite of Penrith, 1885.

There is a font, described by Pevsner as “a square tub, with circular cutaways at the base, dated 1662”, and two pieces of modern stained glass – St Patrick and St Christopher, by Ann Southeran of York. Her website is at here. Rather nice!

I like the Victorian glass – the Wedding at Cana, Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter. Harry has been making home brew for his sister’s wedding in July – I commented in my sermon on Cana that we could use Jesus’ help with the catering. (I can also imagine the discussion about the guest list – “well, how many disciples has he got? Who do we sit him next to?”)

The East Window is by Ward and Hughes, 1888.

There has been a large project to put six bells in the tower – and they recently travelled to the Taylor foundry in Loughborough to watch them being cast. A large project, a lot of work, a lot of money – how wonderful that there is still the willingness to make such an investment in a small village church. You can read about the project here. We had had a nice explore – and went to the village café. Time for coffee.




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Northernvicarwalks – October, November and December 2017

I could quietly forget the fact I was going to try and walk 1,000 miles in 2017, and hope my beloved readers don’t notice – or I can be honest and admit my failures. I can use it as an opportunity to give you a few photos that don’t really fit anywhere else. Hope you enjoy.

On Saturday 14 October Anne was with us – so we went to Heage Windmill (well worth a visit – website), and walked from High Peak Junction to Cromford Mills and back. Just three miles – and I want a ride on “Birdswood”, the trip boat – website.

On Monday 16 October I tried some of the footpaths north of The Hanging Gate – a nice afternoon, but disappointing how many footpaths do not exist.

On Tuesday 24 October when I went to the Skeleton Exhibition in Leeds, I managed a three mile walk in Leeds and another three mile walk in Sheffield – most of the Five Wiers Walk from Meadowhall into the City Centre – website.

The following day I walked four miles along the old railway line by Etwall – why isn’t every week as profitable as this? 51 miles walked in October.

12 miles walked in November. No further comment is necessary.

December was slightly better – 32 miles in total. Most of it around Allestree. The only one worth mentioning was 5 miles by the Weaver Navigation in Northwich, Cheshire, with the Hunns on Boxing Day.

My total is 577. Not quite the 1,000 miles I had planned for the year. School report … “Could do better”. Not that my PE reports were ever good when I was at school. If I hadn’t walked, I would not have watched this heron beside the Weaver.






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Elton, Derbyshire – All Saints’

Having been to Mapleton (Thursday 28 December 2017) we then drove north to visit All Saints’ church at Elton – SK 222610. There is a nice leaflet of walks round the village, but it was a bit cold for that today. It tells me that people were living in this area 5000 years ago. The village was founded in the 8th or 9th century, and the village was laid out in the 11th. Domesday has 18 families living here. Lead mining was a major contributor to the local economy, particularly between the 16th and 19th century. By 1670 there were 55 houses. There is a village website here, and I’ve found the bus timetable – an hourly service from Matlock (some continuing to Bakewell), which sounds fun.

The medieval church of St Margaret was originally a chapel of the mother church of Youlgreave. It was replaced between 1806 and 1812 after the spire collapsed in a storm. One C19 writer apparently commented that the new church “with its round-headed windows was possessed of all the worst characteristics of the time in which it was built.”

I thought it was nice and simple inside, and rather liked it. They had recently come to the DAC with a loo proposal for the area under the tower – but the door is too narrow. I think the only way will be to use the space which is currently the curtained storage area. These churches are never easy!

The first of these windows is the War Memorial. 11 men from a village this size. There was a little leaflet about them, and in the churchyard we have the grave of Harry Allison. He died in hospital in October 1916 of wounds received while on active service. He was only 18. He had attended the Village School, which is next to the church – and the school closed for the afternoon so the children could attend  his funeral.

They have produced a fascinating booklet called “Rectors Remembered” which is a guide to the Garrett and Johnson memorials in the church, and the history of the Victorian clergy. John Fisher Garrett was curate and later rector from the time of his ordination in 1836 until his death in 1878. He was the grandson of the Garretts of Leiston in Suffolk. (Many years ago we had holidays in Dunwich, and visited the Long Shop Museum in Leiston – website). He got a new Parsonage House in 1838 – the previous one having been described as “a small house fit for a decent labourer but not fit for a clergyman.” He had two wives, Elizabeth then Mary, and eight children. The East Window is in memory of Mary. One of his sons, Fydell Edmund (1865-1907) was educated at Trinity, Cambridge, and became a journalist. Two years later he was diagnosed with TB and sent to the warmer climate of South Africa for twelve months to report on its industries, people and problems. He returned there in 1895, when he became editor of the Cape Times aged 30. He had to resign 4 years later, and spent several years in a sanatorium near Nayland in Suffolk. He died in 1907.

The Reverend Timothy Johnson became Rector in 1881, and served here for 44 years. His wife was Ellen, son John and daughter Henrietta. His son died aged 11, and Ellen a decade or so later. Their portraits are incorporated into a memorial window.

When the church was rebuilt, the Norman font, dating from 1150 or thereabouts, was moved to the churchyard. It then made its way to Youlgreave, and was installed in that church, In the 1870s Elton asked for it back – request denied. This is a replica made in 1879. It is an unusual stoup at the side, and the carving is thought to be a salamander. It is capable of extinguishing fire, and is a symbol of purification and enduring faith – apparently it appears on the Bayeux Tapestry, on the shields of Norman soldiers. An exotic king waiting to join the Nativity.

Nice scenery on the way out of the village, and home via Matlock Sainsbury’s. Can I end the final church blog of 2017 with “Matlock Sainsbury’s”? 2017 started with the excellent cake of the Vicar of Littleover …. is there a theme here?




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Mappleton (Mapleton), Derbyshire – St Mary

Last August we parked at the Okeover Arms in Mappleton – website. The pub website has a downloadable pdf of walks – what a great idea. Julie had a drink while I had a lovely walk beside the River Dove, then we had an excellent supper. The church was, quite understandably, locked by that time of the evening. On Thursday 28 December we parked at the pub. They were packed, but managed a quick lunch for us – thank you – and I went and had a look at St Mary’s church. Grid reference SK166451 – note that the Ordnance Survey spells Mapleton with one T. The church is part of the Ashbourne group – website.

It is a lovely church. The original building dates back soon after the Conquest. There is stone work in the bottom of the tower which may be from the original church, a church described as “fitt to be disused” by Parliamentary Commissioners in 1650. It is certainly a lovely little tower, or is it a spire?  It originally had a cupola on top, which blew off and is now preserved. A nice welcoming notice, and a lovely church.

The leaflet says that the architect is James Gibbs, a friend of Christopher Wren. He also designed Derby Cathedral, St Martin in the Fields, and the Senate House in Cambridge. Derby Cathedral’s rebuilding was 1723, so we assume St Mary’s is roughly the same time. How on earth did this small village afford him? The leaflet asks the question, but doesn’t give any answer. (Interesting that British Listed Buildings (this is grade 2*) – website – does not mention the name “Gibbs”. This sounds like a piece of research that needs to be done.

The stained glass in the East Window is 1926 by A.J. Davies of the Bromsgrove Guild. There is a book about him and his work – website. I like the Roman soldiers, and the hair of Mary Magdalene.

The organ was built circa 1972 by Wood of Huddersfield for the famous organist Susi Jeans, wife of Sir James Jeans, the Astronomer Royal, specifically for a series of concerts of Baroque music which she gave for the BBC. Apparently it came to the church in 1975 – which makes me wonder why Lady Jeans disposed of it so quickly. It has two manuals, pedals, and two hundred pipes, with “a fine delicate tone [which] can produce an astonishing volume of sound”. Her obituary is here – apparently she had lessons from Widor.

There are some interesting memorials inside and out.

The Crib was out as we celebrate Christmas.




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Avebury, Wiltshire – St James

Monday 27 November, and we are on a pre-Christmas break in Swindon. We had arranged to meet Geoff and Anne at Avebury, village with stone circle – NT website. We took up residence in the National Trust café. The museum, which needs a make-over, but is quite fascinating. One of the characters in the story – and the excavation story is almost as fascinating as the Stones – is Alexander Keiller, the marmalade man. We then went into the Manor – a building that dates back to the C16, was remodelled in the C18, and restored in the C20. The NT restored it earlier this century, and did each room in a different period – it was a TV programme in 2011 “To the Manor reborn”. It was decorated for Christmas and had a lovely atmosphere.

We had left it rather late to start exploring the site, and I only managed a walk round a quarter of the stone circle – it was rather muddy underfoot and I wanted to get to the church before it got too dark to photo. I want to come back in the summer, and do the landscape.

Finally I got to St James’ church – SU 100698. There is a benefice website here, but I can’t see any mention of Christmas on it. The NT museum did include a mention of all the local churches on one of their displays – let’s hope that this advertising survives the museum upgrade. All the churches were listed in Avebury church – how about one guide for all of them?

It makes you wonder when the first Christians were in Avebury – and what they made of the stones. Roman Christians from one of the villas nearby? There has been a Saxon church here since around 1000 AD – you can (apparently) see the outlines of two Saxon windows at the west of the Nave. Missed that!

Lovely stone work in the porch too.

The font is Norman, early C12. The carvings show two serpents with twisted tails, their heads turned towards the figure of a bishop holding a crozier.

Under the tower there is an interesting stone coffin, and some wood from the 1636 bell frame. The bells in the tower were restored in 1981. The oldest bell in the tower is the tenor, cast in 1719 by Avebury-born Richard Phelps, master of the famous Whitechapel Bell Foundary 1701-38. The Whitechapel Foundary – website – closed last year. John Taylor’s in Loughborough are still casting – website – I visited there several years ago, well worth a tour.

I liked the window, and the various bits of the church would be good to work out (but it was getting a bit cold and late. The Prayer Tree shows how many visitors they must get – why can’t the CofE get its act together to use its most visited churches to direct tourists to other ones nearby? The Taylor report on the Sustainability of Church Buildings was issued yesterday (20 December) by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – web link. I shall read it once Christmas is over – but I have just searched the pdf for the words “tourist” and “tourism” and found just three occurrences in its 72 pages, so I don’t expect I shall be very enthused by it! Am I dedicated (sad?) enough to blog a government report?

The Rood Screen is C15. It was removed, probably early in the reign of Elizabeth I, and was carefully hidden behind a lath and plaster covering against the east wall of the nave. It was discovered there in 1812 and since repainted. The wooden screen below the loft is Victorian. It is rather lovely.

Outside there is a rather nice thatched wall. Many decades ago I had “I Spy in the Country” (or something similar) and I was never able to get “10 points” for a thatched wall. Now I need to find the book.

I went back to the café to warm up. Must come back in the summer.



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Ogbourne St George, Wiltshire – St George

A few days in Swindon (where else?), meant a Sunday morning at the Outlet Centre. If this is what normal people do on a Sunday morning, I’m glad I do church. What made it bearable is that the Outlet Centre is in the old Great Western Railway works, and they have done a good job of keeping some of the history. I also had the pleasure of listening to the Watchet Silver Band – very good, just sad no one in the Centre had the brains to turn the piped music off!

After three hours shopping (or, to be precise, sitting and waiting for the shopper) we went for a drive out of town to try and find a pub for a late lunch. We drove through Ogbourne St George, and I remembered we stayed at the Inn with the Well en route to the Hungerford interview. Sadly the pub wasn’t doing food. We went and had a look at the church – SU 195747. There is a new village website, with a section on church history here.

The church dates to late C12 early C13 – in 1148 Maud of Wallingford gave the church to the Abbey of Bec. Later it ended up in the gift of the St George’s Windsor. Pevsner tells me the porch is C15 – with sundial and mass dials (missed those). It was lovely to find the church open – I said “thank you” to the gargoyles, and enjoyed the sign.

The church was restored in 1873 and the roofs are all C19. I like the carving around the pillars. The font is C15, pulpit etc C19. A wonderful Commandment Board and Royal Arms.

Interesting Victorian work on the east wall, and I like the townscape behind Golgotha in the east window – looks more Flemish than Middle Eastern.

A War Memorial that would re-pay closer study, family memorials that would re-pay closer study, and an angel  – what date is he/she/it?

Outside we have an incredible ugly heating system which wouldn’t be out of place in an out of town warehouse (I hope it works), one thick grave, one bird bath, a war grave (a 1919 death), and a lovely headstone. An interesting explore.



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Brading, Isle of Wight – St Mary the Virgin

“I’m having a day out on the Isle of Wight,” I said. The good folk of Derby gave me the look they have reserved for their daft Vicar, and I escaped on Wednesday 1 November. I had an event in London that evening, so why not cross the Solent to get there? The reason for doing the Isle of Wight is that it is a major piece of track I have not since I was 40. The line runs from Ryde to Shanklin and is 8.5 miles long, all the remains of a network of 53 miles. This short line was electrified in 1967. It has been run by old London Underground trains, but needs about £40 million over the next few years, including £8 million for Ryde Pier. The current class 483s are 1938 tube stock, which were refurbished for this line and introduced in 1990. They won’t last much longer. Bus would be cheaper, tram might work … but, whatever, I need a ride.

I got off at Brading station and walked up the main street to the church of St Mary the Virgin – SZ 606873. According to the guidebook, “the tower – open on three sides – is one of only four like it in England”. I could do a google to find out where the other three are …  The steps lead to the bell tower – the oldest bell is 1594.

The main body of the church is C12, north aisle widened and roofed in the C13, windows C15. The font dates to 1631 – I assume the wooden cover is more recent, it is rather well carved.

This is the lovely memorial to Elizabeth Rollo. It dates to 1875, but the sculptor is not mentioned in the listing.

Interesting North Chapel and Chancel, with an interesting piscina and couple of tombs.

On the south side is the Oglander Chapel – a family who came to the island in the wake of the Norman Conquest, and have been at Nunwell ever since. The first tomb says “Here lyeth the body of Sr John Oglander of Runwell Kt., whoe was in his lifetime Deputy Govenor of the Garrison of Portsmouth under the Earl of Pembroke, Lord High Steward of England. He was alsoe Deputy Lieutenant of ye Isle of Wight under ye Lord Viscount Conway & under ye Earl of Portland. He was Justice of ye Peace & Coruner at 22 years old. He married Ffrances ye youngest daughter of Sir George Moore of Loseley in he County of Surrey Kt. She departed this lyfe at Runwell ye 28th. November 1655 in ye 70th yeare of his age. Sic transit Gloria Mundi.”

These tombs, and why is my first photo out of focus, is another John Oglander – apparently he was a famous diarist and friend of Charles I, he tried to help him when he was held at Carisbrooke. He died in 1655, aged 70. The armour he is wearing is C14, and the crossed legs were thought to represent a Crusader – perhaps he thought of himself as a Crusader. It is a lovely image – I want one. The smaller one above is his son, another John, I think. Probably carved in France.

On the south side is Oliver Oglander, father of the first John. The sun was in the wrong place. Apparently this effigy is French as well – did they buy a job lot and ship them over together? How did you buy an effigy in the days before e-bay?

An older tomb for Oliver Oglander, then a marble tomb for Henry Oglander. Rather gorgeous angels. Thank you Oglander family. The funeral of Henry Oglander is mentioned in the diary of Francis Kilvert.

Three choristers said goodbye to me, and I walked through the churchyard, past a rather lovely stone and what I assume is an old cross.

I walked down the east of the village, the area that was the original harbour, and crossed the line before returning to the station.There is a café and heritage centre here in the summer. Must come back and visit it, and visit the Roman Villa as well – website.

Note the whistle!



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