Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tolethorpe Hall and Shakespeare's Henry V

The grounds are open from 5pm, so that people can take a picnic, or buy one to eat before the performance. The surroundings are beautiful, so we decided to do just that. 
It was a wee bit chill, but very pleasant, and less rushed than eating early at home.
Good show too - Henry V.

After the play, at about 10.45, the sky was clear and starlit, and an orangey crescent moon looked huge behind the trees as we drove home.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Helpston - John Clare Festival

We picked up a flyer for the John Clare Festival, held in Helpston each year on the date nearest the date of birth of the "Peasant Poet".  We only went over for one of the festival events. Was the Chris Harrison performing at the concert in the church someone we used to know? No, he wasn't, but the concert was well worth attending.  
Chris Harrison was singing his settings of poems written by his great-great-grandfather, the self-educated and once well-known "Pitman Poet" from the Northumbrian coalfields, Joseph Skipsey. 
A generation younger than John Clare, Skipsey's family had moved from work on the land to work in the pits, and his life and work reflected and continued some of Clare's concerns.

When I see the picture below, I wonder how I managed to miss this as I wandered round the churchyard before the concert! This is John Clare's grave, complete with its new headstone. The inscriptions are illegible on the tombstone.

Sacred to the memory of 
John Clare
The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet
born July 13 1793 died May 20 1864

Here rest the Hopes and Ashes of John Clare

 A poet is born not made. 

The baskets of flowers are "Midsummer Cushions" made by local schoolchildren each year, reviving an old custom John Clare mentioned:
“It is a very old custom among villagers in summer time to stick a piece of greensward full of field flowers and place it as an ornament in their cottages which ornaments are called Midsummer cushions.”

 The concert took place in St Botolph's church - light and airy with white walls inside, and the door wide open on this summer evening. The entrance path is fringed with bushes of lavender, alive with bees.
Afterwards, we strolled up to the John Clare Cottage, now a museum and cafe.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Belton House

Exploring and making use of the National Trust membership! Belton House was well worth the visit - lovely house and grounds.
The stables block and the archway to the house itself.
Who is this lurking in the ivy?
Monarch of all I survey?

A splendid ceiling in one of the rooms
Stairway and hall with gilt patterns and a portrait by Leighton.
One of several stone urns in the formal gardens
Statue in the formal gardens
Belton church where there are the remains of many of the Cust family who owned Belton House
The lion exedra - so we're told

Small statue in the Orangery glimpsed through the window
and another

Flowers and small tortoiseshell butterfly in the walled garden
Pillar in Belton Church
and the font.
The boathouse and small lake
A modest, or a cheeky statue near the maze.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


I drove - to extend my range since I have begun driving again after a four months pause, because of my broken wrist.
We strolled around, just looking.  First stop was the Castle - a very small one, built between 1180 and 1190, in the reign of Henry II for Walchelin de Ferriers, Lord of the Manor of Oakham. It was principally a fortified manor house. It did at one time have a curtain wall, a gatehouse and a drawbridge with iron chains. Oakham Castle probably also had towers at strategic points along the walls as well as a moat.

Ever since a horseshoe was presented by Edward IV in 1470 after his victory at the Battle of Losecoat Field, there has been a tradition that any peer of the realm visiting Oakham should present the Lord of the Manor with a horseshoe. 230 of them are displayed on the walls of the Great Hall, all hung so that no devil can swing in them, as is the Rutland way.
It is thought that they are linked to the de Ferrers name (meaning farrier) and family crest.
Lorraine Cornwell - Rutland County Museum

We walked past the Butter Cross or Market Cross

The stocks have five holes for some reason.

We walked through the churchyard of All Saints church, 

and came across the Old School building. The history is intriguing.
On the lighter stone is carved  SCHOLA LATINA       GRAECA    HEBRAICA    Ao 1584
These were the subjects the master was to teach.
This inscription uses Hebrew and Greek lettering. The bottom part may be in Latin, but is illegible.
. . . . . . . . . . .      school and hospital(?) in Oakham and Uppingham in the county of Rutland.

Along the end wall is some old, rather stylish graffiti

He is photographing the graffiti, not adding to it!

For more about Oakham see Oddities of Oakham  and Colours of Oakham on a dull day from my photo blog.  And on this blog The Walk that wasn't .

Friday, June 19, 2015


We made use of our NT membership! Easy to spend a day here. The name comes from Moots Font - a well where a medieval community used to meet.

The house was originally a priory, then became a Tudor house, built around the former church, and still later an 18th century country house. Maud and Gilbert Russell owned it and it became a gathering place for artists, writers, philosophers, designers and other guests during the early 20th century.

You've heard of pork sausage . . .

The grounds are magnificent, and extensive.

The walled garden is full of roses and many other flowering plants.

The grounds contain many other attractions
Huge sweet chestnut trees
pruned plane trees

a tulip tree
the ice house

the font itself.

The house is worth visiting - for Rex Whistler's trompe-l'oeil mock classical drawing room, the furniture and the vast collection of paintings. 
In the art gallery we saw an exihibition of Lyons teashop lithographs - by many well known artists.
You can see some of them at the link below: