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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Leeds, Yorkshire – “Skeletons: our buried bones” exhibition

Julie and I are thoroughly enjoying our MA in Public History and Heritage at Derby University – website – but trying to work full time and do an MA has taken its toll on this blog. We had a great day trip to Leeds to visit the Discovery Centre – website. Lucy, one of the curators showed us round, and it was a fascinating (and fun) afternoon. I picked up a flyer for their “Skeletons: our buried bones” exhibition at the City Museum, and managed to go back on Monday 24 October 2017. As I have an essay to write on the ethics of displaying human remains, this is a long blog in preparation.

The Skeleton exhibition is on the third floor of Leeds City Museum, about 10 minutes walk from the station. A lift is available to the third floor.  The web page for the exhibition is here.

It is an exhibition of twelve skeletons, seven from London (labelled 1-5) and twelve from Yorkshire (labelled A-G) – a remarkably sensible piece of labelling. The exhibition is in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust and the Museum of London. The latter’s website says the exhibition has been in Glasgow and Bristol before coming to Leeds. In each case, there is a selection of London skeletons plus others from the local area. The free leaflet details the Yorkshire bodies – there is no suggestion there was a London leaflet produced, and rather amusing we are divided into Regions even in death.

Later research has found a book about the London skeletons available from the Wellcome Trust at £7.99 – website – it was not on sale in Leeds. I purchased the last copy of what my dad would have called “this slim volume” when I was in London a few weeks later. The Wellcome’s page about the exhibition – website – includes a 7 minute youtube video. There is no link to this from the Leeds website. The exhibition is in Leeds from 22 September 2017 to 7 January 2018.

The Museum of London has their human remains policy available here. The Wellcome Collection’s policy is here. Leeds policy is here.

This is one of the notices which greets you as you enter. It took me a few minutes before I decided I was OK using my camera. No one challenged me – perhaps my age, college scarf, beard and notebook made me look like a proper researcher. I did not notice anyone using their mobile or taking selfies. At one point I was about to photo a wall display and realised a child was in the way. Safeguarding stopped me photoing until he had moved.

When writing this up, I was wondering whether I could put the photos on my blog. There was nothing that said I couldn’t, there was no sign restricting the use of photos on social media. I decided I should ask the museum for permission, emailed them with the first draft of this blog, and was assured I am welcome to use them. I had lovely emails from curators Lucy and Ruth discussing my thoughts, and giving me some of theirs’. I am very grateful. Lucy gave me this information – “Links to human remains documents are in the policies and practice part of the website and human remains is here. You might also be interested that we have an evolution position statement – here – (which came as the result of a project we did on human evolution)”.

The skeletons are displayed in twelve cases, in one room, each with a label. There is other display material around the wall, with photos of the burial sites. There are no photos of the skeletons in situ on display, but they are in the leaflet. There are no reconstructions (either physical or drawing) of faces or costumes.

The first two skeletons (A & B) are a Double Burial from Wattle Syke near Wetherby, Iron Age 170 BC to AD 30. A search found this website which has reports of the dig. The two skeletons were found together in a double crouched burial, a woman aged 46 or over was found positioned behind a younger male (36-45). As the leaflet says “We can only speculate what their relationship was”.

This is the skull of the woman, it shows a benign, non-cancerous tumour. She had osteoarthritis, heavy dental ware and three abscesses. The male skeleton shows evidence of large muscle attachments on shoulders, arms and legs, showing he was probably carrying out manual labour.

This York Archaeology website  has a full list of guidance notes about human remains and churchyard archaeology – and even a diagram of how to pack a skeleton.

The first London skeleton is a Roman male, over 46, excavated from Spitalfields. There is a full report of the excavation here. He suffered from Osteochondritis dissecans, a painful joint disorder, which usually occurs in the 20s and is associated with excessive use of a joint, and Sinusitis and inflammation, which may indicate that he lived in a polluted environment – Roman London full of smoke.

The Roman from Yorkshire is a male from Dalton Parlours, near Collingham – website. According to the leaflet, he was buried face-down, which is unusual, and he was buried in a position as if he had suffered a spasm of his muscles, causing the extreme backward arching of his head, neck and spine. This could show he was suffering from a disease like tetanus. This burial position is very different to the way he has been displayed in the exhibition – and you don’t get any impression of his pain.

From London we have a skeleton with a green tinge. She came from East Smithfield, and is a young woman with no visible trauma. She was found in the first dedicated Black Death cemetery in London. The outbreak started in 1348, and wiped out between a third and half of London’s population. The bodies were buried five deep, with children placed between adults to maximise the space. Although buried in mass graves, they were neatly stacked and properly arranged, laid feet facing east according to the Christian tradition. (The notice does not explain where this tradition comes from – when the Lord comes at the Second Coming he will come from the East (Matthew 24.27). Humans will rise to face him. (We priests are buried facing west. We will rise to face our people)). Later the Cistercian Abbey of St Mary Graces was built on the site. Excavation report here, and images here. The green tinge on the skull is because, after the Dissolution, it became the site of the Royal Mint, and the metal stained the skull. Death from plague leaves no signs on the bones  – it is too fast to leave a mark.

The second Smithfields burial shows a projectile injury in the spine, but the bones had healed, indicating that the individual, a man, survived the attack – it just missed his spinal cord. The projectile, an arrowhead, is not displayed.

From York we have a skeleton from All Saints, Fishergate. She is a female over 46 and had tertiary venereal syphilis – you can tell this from the pitting on the skull. I am no expert on syphilis, though now I’ve looked it up on google I will get lots of emails offering me cures … but I made my own conclusion as to the sort of woman she was. Then I was surprised to see that the label said she was an Anchoress – anchoress is the female of anchorite. This was a woman who spent years walled up in a small cell, in prayer and contemplation, the most famous being Julian of Norwich … hardly how I pictured her. The leaflet said she was excavated from the apse of the church – for more information on the dig see this website and an article from Current Archaeology, here. Historical records say there was an anchoress called Lady Isabel German who lived in the church from 1428 to 1448. The bones also show she suffered from severe osteoporosis, not surprising if she was confined to such a small space.

The leaflet asks “Is it possible that Lady Isabel German became an anchoress to repent her sins because she contracted this disease as a young woman? Was she forced into retreating from society or was it a path she chose for herself? Although we can speculate, we do not know the answers and much of her life remains a mystery.”

This was the skeleton I felt most uneasy with. Perhaps it is my own guilt about jumping to conclusions about her lifestyle. I couldn’t help thinking that if I had met her while she was alive – and I assume I would have met her as an anchoress (!) – she would have been looking at me through a small window, and I would have seen very little of her. Now I could see her whole skeleton laid out before me. How would she feel about all the visitors to this exhibition knowing about her past – and even a cleric like me concentrating more on her “interesting” past than on the twenty years she spent in prayer and meditation? I found this picture, but I don’t know where it came from.

Also from All Saints, Fishergate, York, is the skeleton of a Parliamentary soldier who was buried in 1644. During the dig, which was in preparation for the extension of the Barbican Centre, ten mass graves were found containing over a hundred skeletons. The graves had been dug inside what was by then the shell of an abandoned church. The skeletons were arranged in rows, often with limbs overlapping, and are probably Parliamentary soldiers killed during the Civil War Siege of York – they ranged in age from teenagers to men in their 50s. Few of them show evidence of battle injuries, so it is possible that they died of disease – diseases like dysentery, typhoid and typhus would leave no marks on the skeletons.

The next skeleton was from Cross Bones, London. The wall panel tells this cemetery originally served the poor of the parish of St Saviour’s in Southwark, originally established as a cemetery for “single women” (a euphemism for prostitutes), which then became a paupers’ graveyard, before being closed in 1853. For some reason the notice tells us all about the prostitutes, the Winchester Geese, but the skeleton is male. He died of Prostate cancer. If it’s left untreated it often spreads to the bone, forming painful tumours which can make the bones more prone to fracture. These, and the fractures he suffered, can be seen on his skeleton. A reminder to take prostate cancer seriously – this poor chap must have suffered.

There were three students chatting away about his illness, and I asked if they were medics. No, studying archaeology at Bradford University. One of them was doing work at Bamburgh, and we chatted about the burials at St Aidan’s.

Back in Yorkshire a skeleton from Carver Street, Sheffield, did not make it into the leaflet. The largest Methodist chapel of its time was constructed here in 1805, and 1,600 people were buried here before the cemetery closed in 1855. 100 skeletons were discovered during excavations to install a beer cellar for the pub which is now housed in the chapel building – what would the Methodists make of that? The man had suffered fractures to both his bones on the right hand side – apparently it must have been a fall from some height to break his femur. His disability is seen in joint disease to the shoulders, the result of using crutches for support. “The wear in the left canine in the upper jaw could have been caused by holding a pipe between the teeth – known as a pipe facet.”

At this point my mobile rang – it was on silent – and I left the exhibition to take a call from Becky, Vicar of St Nick’s Allestree. We discussed the burial of some ashes in St Edmund’s – now three quarters of us are cremated, will we have skeletons to display? – and whether the stories of those on our War Memorial have been collected.

As I returned, a young lady was on duty, and we sat and had a chat. She told me she is called Afreen (I hope I have spelt that right), and is a Muslim – but she wasn’t sure what Muslim teaching was on the display of human remains. She said that she thought it was fine because of the need for education, and told me how well behaved most visitors have  been. She said she loved visiting old churches – so I gave her my northernvicar card – and she wishes Muslims in Britain had old buildings. We had a chat about Lady Isabel.

The final skeleton was from the Battle of Towton, 29 March 1461. 50,000 soldiers were involved, and there were more than 20,000 casualties. The retreating army was forced to scramble over piles of bodies in order to escape. If that’s not bad enough, in 2006, builders installing a new garage at Towton Hall uncovered a mass burial of 40 skeletons, tightly packed and buried in a shallow grave. “The bones showed evidence of violent injuries, particularly to the skulls. It is likely that these individuals were executed after the battle rather than be killed on the battlefield itself.” There are several websites about the battle, including bbc news, and the battlefield group. There is a Visitor Centre in the grounds of the Crooked Billet pub in Saxton near Selby – SE 475368 – a few miles south of Tadcaster, nearest station Church Fenton.

Room 2 includes a Roman Cremation Urn from Adel in Leeds, dated AD 100-300. The leaflet makes the point “although we can’t analyse cremations in the same way as skeletons, they are still the remains of once-living people.” It is interesting how we deal differently with ashes – I will regularly received a box from an Undertaker and leave them in my study for a few days until I take them to church (though Julie tells me off if I do). We usually pour ashes straight into a hole in the ground, but some families insist on them being in a casket. My parents were cremated and dad just want the ashes scattered in the garden of Cambridge Crematorium – on one occasion he said “I don’t need to know where mum is buried, I know where she is”. We buried our boys, Gareth and Theo, at Holy Saviour, Milbourne – we want to know where their bodies are (even though I find it difficult to visit the graves). We didn’t even think about cremating them – and I don’t want to be cremated myself. I’m not sure why not … after all, I’ll be dead.

The displays say that “The earliest acquisition of human bone is recorded in the 1833 Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society report as human skulls … from Cuzco, the ancient capital of Peru. But mummies were collected even earlier. The mummy of the Egyptian priest Nesyamun … was acquired in 1823, and other mummies came into the collection the following year. We still collect human remains today in certain circumstances usually as part of local archaeological excavations.” Elsewhere it is recorded that bomb damage in the last War destroyed all their collections of mummies, except Nesyamun. The display notes that “The human remains collection includes items which range from a complete human skeleton to a single lock of hair, as well as objects made out of human bone, hair and teeth.” Here are three brooches, each containing a lock of human hair.

There were three videos with members of the museum staff discussing different digs in Leeds. One person talks about how the obvious  violent death of one of her skeletons affected her – she uses the phrase “she has a home now”. I wondered if a cardboard storage box, presumably at the Discovery Centre, is a home. Yet there is no doubt that the remains are treated with sensitivity, that each has a unique and personal story to tell, and that we are making a connection with another human being. One of the developments is the Victoria Gate site in Leeds – which was one of the poorest parts of Leeds. Apparently some of the children’s skeletons show an overdeveloped left side, which may show they worked under the looms, collecting threads with their right hand, supporting themselves with their left. It was agreed that bodies from this site would be reburied, rather than stored.

Another display says English Heritage commissioned a survey in 2009 to capture different viewpoints. 91% of respondents supported museums that wished to keep human bones for research and display. There was more concern about the age of the bones (many wanted them to be at least 100 years old) and using bones of people who could be identified by name.” The survey is here.

We were invited to leave our comments or tweet @leedscitymuseum #skeletonsethics. A quick look has led me to a Conference “Skeletons, stories and social bodies” at the University of Southampton, 20-22 March 2018 – website – I wonder if anyone from the Church of England is going, or if I could find a reason (and the funding) to go.

Church of England guidance is here, with a link to the Advisory Panel on the Archaeology of Burials in England – here.

I did not visit the rest of the museum, but there was a huge children’s workshop happening downstairs. “A day of scientific discovery for all the family, with hands-on CSI activities.” Lots of bone-related activities which looked great fun.

So, my thoughts …

Well presented display – though I would have liked more information about the London burials (I’ll buy the book).

Probably a wise decision not to have too many extra pictures, reconstructions, etc. – though the pictures of the sites added quite a lot.

How much information do we give about each skeleton?

Was I too intrusive with my camera? How do we define “respectful photography”. Do I put this on my blog?

What do young children make of it? It would have been good to have chatted to a family.

I still worry about Lady Isabel – is my unease because she is not anonymous? I know they are real people, but is she too real?

When the exhibition is over, I assume that the skeletons will go back into storage in London, Leeds, Sheffield, or wherever.

My Christian faith believes in the soul – and it is the soul that will survive death. (Ideas of a bodily resurrection were important in previous centuries, but became less important as cremation became more acceptable). I won’t need my organs, or my skeleton, once I’m dead.

Christian burial is final – and any exhumation requires the agreement of the Church and Secular authorities. If I’m going to be dug up, I would like to be reburied.

But I understand the archaeological interest, the use for education, and all that the skeletons can teach us. Seeing the marks on the bones brought home the pain and suffering people had before decent dentists, the pain and suffering of the Civil War, and the pain and suffering of a child working in the factories.

As I walked back to Leeds station I passed the Job Centre and read this sign. It seems we treat the skeletons of medieval paupers with more compassion and care than we treat those who are living in the Twenty-first century.




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Chesterfield, Derbyshire – St Mary and All Saints

I am sure there are not many people who visit Holy Trinity Chesterfield before they visit the parish church – St Mary and All Saints. They are in the town centre, SK 385712 (although the OS does not have a symbol for twisted spire). They have got the obvious web address – here. On Tuesday 3 October I had had a morning meeting – they have an excellent café and meeting rooms nearby – and then went and explored the church. I wasn’t expecting a church geared to tourists, with staff and a lovely welcome. My fault for thinking that it is simply a church we see from the train and smile at its spire. It is more than its spire! They do have tours up the spire – must go back and do that.

One of the displays in church tells the story that the spire was so surprised a Virgin was marrying in church that it turned and looked – the Children’s Guide says she was a beautiful bride!

The first mention of a church here dates to a document of 1093, and the present building dates from the 1200s. The spire was added at the end of the 1300s. The West Front was rebuilt in 1509-49. Much damage was done after the Reformation, and the church was restored in 1843 by George Gilbert Scott. A fire in 1961 destroyed the North Transept, organ, and nearly reached the spire.

You enter through a small shop at the west end, and enter the Nave. This is one of those churches where the determined blogger should go round with a notebook and work out what he has photoed. Or he just records that the pulpit is Jacobean, dating from about 1620 – it may have been made by the carvers of the Long Gallery at Haddon Hall. The font is Saxon, and the Madonna and Child by Peter Eugene Ball, a Millennium gift to the church. I think this is an early C14 effigy of a priest.

The West Window is by Hardman, and dates to 1890. It shows scenes from the life of Joshua, in the Old Testament. The Anniversary Window was given to the church by the people of Chesterfield in 1984 to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the church. It dates the history of the town from the C13 to the present day. Here we have Clay Cross foundries and mines, the Midland station, Tapton House (home of George Stephenson), Holy Trinity church, and one of Stephenson’s locos. (Locomotives in windows also appear on this blog at Byrness and Cadeby). There is a display board about what you can see in the window, and a whole page in the guidebook – but neither tells you who designed and made the window!

The guide says that this St Francis window is by Sep Waugh, and a search gives me an obituary dated 2013 – website. He seems to have produced a lot of Millennium windows. I like much of the other glass, including St Edmund.

The east end of the church is unusually wide for a parish church, and indicates the prosperity of the town at the time of its construction (the thirteenth century). At the south side is the Lady Chapel, and it has some wonderful tombs. I asked permission to cross the rope and get the camera out.

They are the tombs of the Foljambe family. The earliest is the one on the left, Henry Foljambe and his wife Benedicta. It was carved out of alabaster, with a marble top, by Harpur and Moorecock at Burton-on-Trent in 1510 and cost £10. The kneeling figure is thought to be the 13 year old Sir Thomas, who died in 1604. The head doesn’t belong to the body!

The centre tomb chest (the four photos above) is of Sir Godfrey (died 1585) and his wife Troth. I like the idea of being married to Troth – I pledge thee my troth.

The tomb to the right is Godfrey (died 1594) and his wife (unnamed in the guidebook). There are other memorials against the wall.

The Parish Chest, a lovely old clock – it would look nice in the Allestree Vicarage – and this chandelier would look good in my hall. This is a church to re-visit.






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northernvicarwalks September 2017

At the end of August I had walked 434 miles. I walked 48 miles in September. By the end of the month I have walked 482 miles.

The first week was 8 miles locally and 10 miles while in Cambridge on 8 September. Clare Fellows’ garden, Cambridge North station, and my birthplace (23 Long Reach Road, Cambridge).

The second included walks to and from College, walks in Cumbria and London, and a lovely day round Kedleston with the University History department.

Local and Brodsworth in week 3. Local and Jarrow in week 4. No extra walking photos, so here is the wonderful Voces 8. If you have not heard them, go and do so. Their website is here. We heard them singing at Penkridge, but it was too wet and dark for decent photos. I assume it is OK to use this photo – Andrea, the lass in blue, used to sing in RSCM choirs with Hannah. They’ve all grown up a bit since then!

Voces8 Group Promo

We also had a day on the Severn Valley Railway, and a great concert with the Fron Male Voice Choir and Julie’s cousin Roger in St Mary’s Bridgnorth. It is another church that will need to be re-visited and blogged. The Fron’s website is here. The morale of the bottom photo is that, even if your train is late, you can’t get stressed if you’re waiting for the train coming in the other direction. You can’t go until it’s arrived.

Posted in 1,000 mile walking, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Railway interest | 2 Comments

Jarrow, Tyne & Wear – St Paul, and Jarrow Hall

On Friday 29 September I headed North to give my Carmichael talk to the Friends of Beamish. At Newcastle I jumped on the metro and headed south to Bede. I last here with Hannah one Christmas Eve as she wanted a Barbour jacket from the factory shop next door. Today’s purchase was a Gregg’s pasty – purchased with my first Jane Austen £5. I wonder what Jane would make of walking down the street stuffing one’s face with a Gregg’s Pasty (“O Mr Darcy”).

My first stop was St Paul’s church – NZ 339652 – website. I got a nice welcome, and the first person to greet was the Reverend John Hodgson MA. He was a great Northumberland historian, and worked with Faraday and others on mine safety. I knew I’d heard of him, but he doesn’t appear in this blog (even though he is buried at Hartburn).

First we must go back to an evening more famous Northumbrian historian – the Venerable Bede. Here is a website about him (with a film to watch). 673-735, he spent most of his life at this monastery and the one at Monkwearmouth – website. I won’t re-write his life, look at my previous blog.

There is an early dedication stone, recognising that the Chancel is Saxon. Here you feel that you are in one of the earliest churches of our country. There is an ancient dedication slab, and some Saxon glass in a small, round window. Statue by Fenwick Lawson – we came across his work at Lindisfarne and Durham. His website is here.

The east window is a wonderful Evetts window – I do miss his lovely glass. (If you want to know more about him and his glass look at Wylam on my blog, or the Evetts glass category. His obituary is here.

There is some lovely, ancient wood work. The Stalls are C15, the revolving arm chair was made from monastery timber in the C19, and the other was sat in by Bede (of course it was).

Here is the view from the Chancel looking back into the Nave.
I was involved with these Spirit in Stone banners when in the Diocese of Newcastle – it is good seeing one still doing the job it was designed for. The Risen Ascended Christ is by Fenwick Lawson. It is a little sad that we ignore all the other history of a place like this – especially the huge numbers of men who went off to fight in WW1.

Thank you, as well, to the volunteers who keep this church open today. Theirs is not the easiest of parishes – and not one that tourists will naturally visit. I’m glad that when we do, even on an autumnal September afternoon, the church is open and welcoming.

I went for a wander round the ruins of the monastery itself – ruins in the care of English Heritage. There is a website and you can download an audio guide, I must have a go at that sometime. We’ve also been doing some work on the World Heritage Sites – so here is the listing.

I walked across the park to Jarrow Hall – website. For many years this was Bede’s World. We first came here in about 1995, and have returned several times since. It went bust last year, has now re-opened, but not a lot has changed. It is going to need vision to stay open, the building and displays need some work. Jarrow is not a tourist centre, Bede does not have much pull (interesting that the Jarrow Hall visitor information leaflet does not even tell us who he is), and although there were several school parties in, they are going to need to appeal to a lot more people. I wonder if Durham Cathedral and their Open Treasures exhibition – on the list for 2018 – Beamish and the other big museums in the North East, can do anything to help get visitors in their direction. Surely someone has some Anglo Saxon treasures in a store somewhere that could make a wonderful exhibition to pull in the punters.

It is depressing that English Heritage do not mention the existence of Jarrow Hall on their website. You wouldn’t think it would hurt Tyne and Wear Museums (now minus Wear, but that’s another issue) to have “Other local museums” on their webpage. Nexus, the metro, operators have the now closed Monkwearmouth station museum on their website, but not Jarrow Hall. Does the North East want Jarrow Hall to suceed? I hope and pray it can be made to work – and I wish them all the very best.

The nice bunch of Friends at Beamish seemed to enjoy my talk, and my thanks to Clare and Lyndon for their hospitality.


Posted in Durham, Evetts' windows, World War 1 | Leave a comment

London Open House 2017 – Supreme Court, Admiralty House

After visiting 55 Broadway Bertie and I walked along to the Supreme Court, and found the queue was so long we weren’t going to get it. Julie and Hannah had enjoyed their explore. The building was completed in 1913, designed by the Scottish architect James Gibson. It was used by Middlesex County Council until 1965, then became a Crown Court. The outside reliefs depict historical scenes, including King John handing the Magna Carta to the barons at Runnymede. You can download an audio tour here and visit quite easily. I would like to do so.

We had a snack for a very late lunch, then finished our explorations with Admiralty House. We were shown to the front of the queue, and the wheelchair ramp was fun! The staff were lovely. Photos here were fine.

It was built in 1785 for Earl Howe, the first Lord of the Admiralty, and designed by Samuel Pepys Cockerell – he was a great, great nephew of the diarist. He also designed the Foundling Hospital, bits of Bloomsbury, and Sezincote House in Gloucestershire. It is now owned by the Cabinet Office, and has been used temporarily as the Prime Minister’s office – Harold Macmillan’s “Night of the Long Knives” took place here. The Inner Reception has a wonderful black stove and clock – I wanted to walk off with the clock. The staircase is very tight, and there is a list of First Lords of the Admiralty – including Admiral Lord Barham, 1805. Julie pointed out that he is the one the loco is named after – and I have found an article about him in History Today 15.5 (1965).


Here are two lovely fireplaces, and a couple of other photos to whet your appetite for next year’s Open Houses. Thank you for this year – next year we’ll try and get the whole weekend off.

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London Open House 2017 – 55 Broadway

After Marlborough House, Bertie and I headed to 55 Broadway, Hannah and Julie to the Supreme Court. For all people of a certain age “55 Broadway” is the London Transport HQ – indeed, it still is (but for how much longer – see this website). I had photoed the outside a few weeks ago – see northernvicarwalks june

The line underneath, and St James’s Park station, was constructed in the late 1860s, and thirty years later the District Railway Company opened new offices above. They were rebuilt and extended over the years, and by the late 1920s the Board of the Underground Group (running the tube, buses, trams and electrical supply companies) were anxious to house all its staff in one new purpose-built block on the site.

The plans developed by Adams, Holden and Pearson, were radical – the tallest office block in London, cruciform design allowing natural daylight to reach more of the offices, a central service core that houses lifts, staircases and other services, and contemporary artists involved. Charles Holden was the architect behind it, and was very ingenious in his designs.

It was constructed between 1927 and 1929, and is supported by 700 concrete piles sunk to an average depth of 40 feet below basement level. Nineteen steel girders span the railway, and special insulation was used to reduce vibration from the trains. It has a steel girder skeleton, supplied and constructed by Rubery, Owen of Darlaston, Staffordshire, and faced with 78,000 cubic feet of high quality of Portland Stone, plus Norwegian granite and black Belgian marble. There are sculptures on the side – Night and Day by Jacob Epstein, and a further eight, representing the Four Winds, by other well-known artists. The building was hit during the Blitz in 1941, but was carefully reconstructed. It was refurbished in the 1980s, and it was sad to see how much of the interiors had been destroyed.

It was a good guided tour, with two members of staff who knew their stuff. In Reception is a fascinating train describer, so management could see exactly how the service was running. Lovely art deco touches in the detailing of lifts, banisters, etc.

There was some LT art that I had not seen before, and it was good to stand in the offices of Holden, Pick, etc.

We managed to get access to the roof – and the views were worth the climb.

There are regular tours – website. Well worth it!

Posted in London, Railway interest | 1 Comment