Friday, March 07, 2014

Hard roads make the walking tougher?

We have been so fed up of ploughing, or skating, through mud, going ankle deep and occasionally more, that we’ve taken to exploring the world via the quiet minor roads in the area.
In some ways it’s been a revelation – so many of the roads are indeed quiet, though you need to keep your ears open, and be prepared for the odd vehicle. The roads have added a new dimension to my view of the great jigsaw map I’m building in my head. I just love the way places interlock. Call me sad, but I get a buzz when I cross a path I walked a couple of years ago, but from a different angle.
However, I think a nine-miler feels harder on the feet and legs when you’ve been walking on roads. Unless it’s my fitness level just now. . .
However we plan our walks, we often come across odd stories. Yesterday it was about Thomas Jarman of Clipston, a prolific writer of hymn tunes and master of the local chapel choir. He died at the age of 85, and is buried in the grounds of the Chapel at Clipston. Online searches revealed that he spent some time exchanging unpleasant verses with the local Church of England vicar, a Mr Bull. They didn’t see eye to eye about music and life in general. There’s some information here :

and my silly take on the story in my Poedoodles blog.

The walk is described in my walking blog

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Buxton - the highest market town in England

We've chosen the wettest few days possible for our stay in Derbyshire - so after a leisurely morning in the cottage, we visit Buxton.  Museum, art gallery, coffee shops call. 

We've been here before.  I stayed in the Youth Hostel in Harpur Hill when I was a teenager - going back a long way.  I think we'd walked about 15 miles in the rain! 

Then years later, when Esther was a youngster we all cycled in from somewhere near Wirksworth along the High Peak trail, and sought out waterproofs.  There could be a theme emerging here! 

and one of Harry's photos - from Buxtonne sur Seine?

It's a glorious place - but does the sun ever shine?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wirksworth Festival 2013

We were up there on September 8th 2013.

We had lunch at the Mistral, excellent food and ambiance with a French flavour - omelette for Harry, crêpe à la ratatouille for me.  Good service, but a slightly claustrophobic cellar experience - no windows and one too many tables for the space available.

We walked up to the Stardisc, where musicians and a theatre group performed in the spectaular setting.

Looking over to Alport Heights

The quarry and Middleton Top
We decided to watch the congregation "clypping the church" - embracing it as the centre of the community. People form a circle around the building, holding hands and singing.

As spectators we were roped in to join hands with the congregation. Hence no pictures! But see these from two years ago.

A lamp from Buenos Aires.

Then down to see Linda Taylor-Fry's exhibition - we watched her sell one of her striking graphic paintings, admired her garden and looked at Colin Halliday's work, which was on show in a marquee in the garden as well.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Why do I walk so much?

Is it the nearest thing I can find to meditation, or my way of paying my dues to my inner nomad?  Is it for the exercise that’s in it?  Or for the easy companionship when I walk with others?  There are elements of all of these, but it comes down to the fact that I love it.  The reasons don’t matter.  It’s the time I feel most myself, most at peace, and most interested in life. When I’ve been walking I can enjoy other activities even more.
Walking in remote countryside clears my brain. Walking in cities may lead to odd encounters and discoveries.  It makes little difference if it’s somewhere I know well, or somewhere new.  Though if I had to choose I would probably go with the new. Like Baudelaire in his poem Le voyage and like many people – novelty enchants me.
But this search for something new mustn’t be too superficial – and walking gives me the chance to feel I belong to a place, and to lay hold and possess it in return.  I think it’s on the same level as learning a language, which is a way of understanding a country and feeling at home there.
I tend not to philosophise about this in my walking blog, but I have certainly put some miles under my boots this year.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trinity Chapel near Highoredish

I may have first heard of Trinity Chapel when I found out that my great-great-great-grandfather ( that's my grandmother's great-grandfather) was baptised there in 1792.  Or it may have been when I looked at a map of the area around Highoredish. No matter - I learned that it existed, and had some connection with some of my ancestors. Enough to tempt me to explore, of course.  To reach it you have to walk - it's hidden away in the woods below Highoredish, not far from Mathersgrave. 

I've just searched through my photos - I have four from 1998, before I went digital - in the days of film sent away for developing and printing, and although they were stored in an album, one or two look a little faded. 

The chapel is in a beautiful area - I must revisit and walk nearby. 

According to the Derbyshire Heritage website

a church was recorded on the site in the Domesday survey of 1086 and a 13th century reference in the documents of Darley Abbey mentions what is now merely a footpath to the church as Churchgate Lane. The will of Hugh Revell of Shirland dated 15th May, 1504, states: "I will that the Trinitie Chapel have my chalez, the which is now in their possession, for ever." There is no subsequent record of this chalice, which may have gone missing during the Civil War.
The present Chapel is believed to have been completely rebuilt in the early 1500's, possibly a short time before the Reformation, about 1520-1530. According to tradition, the two bells which the Chapel once possessed were stolen by Oliver Cromwell during the Civil War.

Up to 1758, the Chapel served as a chapel of ease to the parish of Morton, and services were held there four or five times a year.  It was deserted after the investiture of the new Brackenfield Church in 1857.  By 1841, it had already fallen into disuse, partly because of its inaccessibility, and partly because most of the population of Brackenfield now lived around the green, over a mile away.

There is further information on the Brackenfield page of the Amber Churches website.  One interesting item is this:
The ruins of “Trinity Chapel”, the remains of a sixteenth century replacement of the original chapel now hidden in trees, can be reached from a footpath and a village tradition developed of a pilgrimage to the Chapel on Trinity Sunday. This lapsed in recent years but was picked up again in 2010 when a church walk stopped in the chapel for a short service.
So far, I have no knowledge of any paintings or photographs of the chapel before it fell into ruins.  I must thank Charlie Wildgoose of Matlock for putting the idea into my head, in a discussion about one of his photographs.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Another redundant church - Allexton

I've cycled past Allexton, driven past the village, but never stopped to look. It was only while walking the Leicestershire Round that our route took us into the village and past St Peter's church.  We allow a bit of extra exploration time on most of our walks, so we made a short detour into the church.
Stone lions guard the door, and there are dormer windows in the roof.
Inside there are two Norman arches, decorated with zigzag carving, similar to those at Tickencote. They were restored in the nineteenth century, but are said to be close to the originals.

There was once a third arch - you can see the beginning of it, with a carved face .
The rest of the arch now forms part of the church tower, and its shape can be seen on the outside wall.

Some medieval stained glass has been re-assembled.  In the church itself there is a naked man climbing a ladder. This may have been part of a doomsday scene.  In the vestry there are two small windows - one has a manticore (top left in the first photo below, and only half visible) - a mythical half man-half beast creature.The other shows twin birds touching at the beak.
A close-up of the manticore

The memorial tablets on the back wall inside are dedicated to a vicar, who lived into his seventies, and his wife, who died in childbirth, aged 20. The child survived.
This stone urn stands on the table-top tomb of Thomas Hotchkin, a sugar plantation and slave owner, who died in 1774.

The church was declared redundant in 2000 and placed in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust. Much of the information in this post is from their leaflet.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A redundant church - Withcote Chapel

For a long time, I've loved wandering into and around churches, especially small ones in out of the way villages.  I'm not religious by any stretch of the imagination. It's the weight of generations of history that attracts me to them, as well as the beauty of carvings, wooden and stone, and the windows - whether stained glass, or plain and airy.

The memorial inscriptions - inside or outside -  tell stories, not always obvious, and some make the observer ask questions.  

Withcote Chapel, near Withcote Hall was a private family chapel, probably begun in the 16th century by Catherine and William Smith, and completed after William's death by Catherine and her second husband,  Roger Ratcliffe.  The Palmer family became lords of the manor, and were linked by marriage to the Johnsons. Monuments to all of these are found in the chapel.

The private chapel took on the function of parish church, possibly because the village lost people after the land was enclosed, and the original parish church fell into disuse.  The chapel acquired a font in the 19th century.  There is a small graveyard.

When we were nearby, walking part of the Leicestershire Round, we called in out of curiosity.  I'd seen the place from a distance on a previous walk, and read a bit about it.  We were lucky to find  two volunteers from the Churches Conservation Trust tidying the place up for a rare service which would be held there.  They were very informative and even offered us a cup of tea. 

The stained glass in some of the windows is thought to be part of the original building, designed by the king's glazier, Galyon Hone, and installed in about 1530.  

One interesting plaque mentions a male Palmer who was "primitively religious".  According to one of the volunteers, this probably meant he was high church, or even Roman Catholic, at a period when this was unwise.

It's a lovely building, and its setting is hidden away and delightful, especially on a fine summer's day.

More information about Withcote Chapel.
More about the Churches Conservation Trust.