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.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Minstead - coffee, stocks and Conan Doyle

We're down south visiting the family.   Being a grandparent, rather than a parent, has its perks - I don't feel obliged to attend the birthday parties Joseph's invited to!  We take ourselves out to Minstead for our essential coffee - and fruit cake.  

It's very much the sort of village you would expect to see on a calendar - a village green with spreading chestnut tree, a circular bench and the old stocks - not fenced like the ones in Gretton, but open for use as a photo-opportunity for kids.  The tea-shop-cum village store and the Trusty Servant pub are both next to the green and outdoor tables are busy on a fine sunny morning.  A group of girls with outsize backpacks arrive and sprawl on the grass for a while.  A young woman leads her small daughter on a pony and pauses by the tree.  A white-haired man in shirt-sleeves calls in for his newspaper. A loud group at the next table discuss acting.  We sit and watch the world turn.

 We know Conan Doyle is buried in Minstead, and we've parked near the church. 
It's one of the oddest-looking churches I've seen - a brick-built hotch-potch of a place, in an idyllic English countryside setting.
The inside is fascinating too - there's a private pew with a fireplace on the north side, a triple decker pulpit and two galleries.  The lower one, seen in the picture was built in the late sixteenth century for the musicians who accompanied the hymns.  An upper one was added in the eighteenth century for the estate workers and their children.
The third notice reads -


Arthur Conan Doyle was originally buried as a non-Christian believer in spiritualism, in Crowborough, Suffolk, where he died.  He was reputedly buried in an upright position in the garden of the large house he owned.  He was reinterred at Minstead later - at the edge of the churchyard.

More information about Conan Doyle and his New Forest connection, the church and Minstead in general can be found on Minstead shop's website.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Paris plaques that caught my eye

rue de l'Odéon

Thomas Paine  . . . lived here from 1797 - 1802

"When opinions are free, the force of truth always comes out on top"

From the statue of Jules Ferry (1832 - 1893) in the Tuileries - paid for by public subscription of one sou from each of millions of children in the secular schools of France.
He is known for his promotion of non-religious education, and also for supporting French colonial expansion.

rue de Sévigné, 

One I didn't photograph, but which is representative of many shadows of the second world war, is on the wall of the Ecole des Hospitalières-Saint-Gervais. In translation -  
"165 Jewish children from this school, deported to Germany during the second world war, were exterminated in the Nazi camps. Do not forget."

Monday, July 01, 2013

The Jardin du Luxembourg

I'm intrigued to find out that this garden was built for Marie de Medicis to remind her of the Boboli gardens in Florence.  The Boboli allows Florentines free access, with proof of ID, though tourists and other outsiders have to pay.   The Luxembourg is free of charge,  and it's closer to the city centre.

It's the biggest park in Paris, and is a delight - places to sit, trees, water, statues, entertainments for kids and adults, lovely gardens.  You can even sit on some of the grass!

We met Anne and spent a couple of hours with her - chatting, having coffee, wandering.
Then we all hung around for a short outdoor concert of some of Chopin's music.
It's good to see the bandstand in the park is so well used. The atmosphere on a summer afternoon was excellent.

We walked back via St Germain des Prés and the river. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The green trees of Paris

Cities need trees.  They add colour, texture, and welcome shade in summer.  On benches nearby are parents with kids, teenagers, students, workers grabbing lunch, older people, chatting, eating sandwiches, or just sitting and watching the world.

Paris has lots of trees, along the streets, 
Sunday morning market - Boulevard Richard Lenoir
along the banks of the Seine,
 in hidden courtyards, and small squares 
Place du Marché Sainte Catherine in the Marais
- and especially in its public parks – the Jardin des Tuileries, with its formal gardens, its pools and clipped trees,
The Tuileries
  the gardens below the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre, 
the Place des Vosges, 
the oasis of the Jardins du Palais Royal 
Palais Royal
and the delights of the Jardin du Luxembourg beyond the Boul’Mich.  
Fontaine Medicis, Jardin du Luxembourg

Gathering for a concert in the Luxembourg
In one or two places there is greenery going up the walls:-
Hotel de Sully
not far from the Pompidou centre