About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Miserden, Winstone and the Stroudwater Frome

Putting a rubbish ten days behind us, Son the Younger, Ted and I headed north into the Cotswolds for a walk. Our starting point was the village of Miserden, but before we set off, we took a look at the war memorial, designed by Lutyens. 

Their experiences, 100+ years ago, infinitely worse. 


We also popped into St Andrew's Church, which is believed to be of Saxon origin, but suffered drastic 'restoration' during the Victorian era.


It has a probably Norman but possibly earlier font ...


... but its glories are the two tombs in the manorial chapel. This is William Kingston's painted stone effigy; he died in 1614 and seems to have been a snazzy dresser. 


And this is the alabaster tomb of Sir William Sandys and his wife, Margaret Culpeper, who died in 1640 and 1644 respectively. 





Memorial to Anthony Partridge (dd 1591) and his wife


The route of our walk took us along a lane ...


... over a couple of stone stiles ... 


... past Miserden (or Misarden) Park, which dates from the 1620s and was remodelled by Lutyens in 1919 after a major fire   ...


... past a fairy ring ... 


... and down the steep path through the woods to the bottom of the valley and the River Frome (Stroudwater). Not to be confused with the Fromes in Bristol, Somerset, Dorset and Herefordshire respectively. 

As at Berwick in Sussex last week, it was beginning to look a little autumnal.


Of course, what slithers down must clamber up the other side of the valley, which is pretty steep also.


At the top we found ourselves in typical Cotswold country - all very gracious and strictly private, gitorfmyland even when you're on a public footpath. 

We made our way - briskly and purposefully because we belonged there - to the nearby village of Winstone and detoured down a lane to its church, St Bartholomew's ... 


... which, like Holcombe Old Church in Somerset, is believed to have been left behind when the village moved to higher ground as a precaution against the plague. 


This church is mid 11th century and has a mixture of Saxon and Norman features, with a 14th century porch and a 15th century saddleback tower. 


A very Saxon-looking South door ...



... and chancel arch.

Like at Miserden, the church here underwent 'restoration' at the hands of the Victorians, losing its plaster, and with it layers of history. Instead, it got some rather nasty ribbon-pointing. 




Look, Ma, no East Window


Crowned head over blocked north doorway


Modern window, featuring The Sower, by local stained glass artist, Edward Payne, whose father, Henry, had close links with the Arts and Crafts Movement.


15th century font


Feet of ages




Life and death


Just death


Time to be looping back to Miserden. 


Various obstacles for Ted: another stone stile ...


... and some hens and ferocious-looking geese, all of which he paid no attention to at all. Hooray. It's only taken 10 years. 
The final part of the walk was the scramble down to the river and the hauling back up the other side. Son the Younger likes to end a walk with a stiff climb, it gives him a sense of achievement, he says. But then he's 32 years younger than I am.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

A Sussex Postscript: Rottingdean and St Michael and All Angels, Berwick

Back in Sussex to fetch home my son, I stopped off in Rottingdean again, determined to get to the bottom of Edward and Georgiana Burne Jones's missed memorial.


First, though, I sought out their house, a task which isn't as straightforward as it seems. The blue plaque is on a property called 'Prospect Cottage', currently covered with scaffolding ... 


... but I'd read they lived at North End House, which is two doors up. 

It turns out Ned first bought Prospect Cottage and the middle house, Aubrey Cottage, as a holiday home, and knocked them through, before later buying North End House and making
one home of them all. Blimey. 

The novelist Angela Thirkell stayed there as their granddaughter, and later, after Georgie's death, it was bought by Enid Bagnold, of 'National Velvet' fame.  

I wandered through Kipling Gardens up to The Elms, where his eminence lived.  

The Elms

Kipling, and his cousin, Stanley Baldwin, who also has a connection with the village, were both nephews of Georgie. (Clearly there was no escaping The Family, not even on holiday.)

Up at the Church, I found the memorial to Ned and Georgie with no problem at all, on the external wall of the south aisle. 


But where are they buried? 


Fiona McCarthy, in her biography, states that Ned's ashes were scattered in a grave lined with moss and roses in the corner of the churchyard closest to their house. Somewhere near here, perhaps?  


Then there's the wooden memorial to Angela Thirkell. I was sure her name would be on the back of this one ...
... but it's someone called Mary's. I couldn't read the rest of the inscription. 


It had come on to rain again ... 


looking towards the windmill


... so I decided not to search for Angela's grave any more. Nor Enid Bagnold's. Nor Gary Moore's, for that matter. Instead, I popped inside the church again ... 


... and found another tucked-away and awkward to photograph window I'd missed last week: George and the Dragon, in a design by J H Dearle for Morris & Co. 

I also photographed the smaller lights below the three archangels that hadn't come out so well on my previous visit.


Gabriel ...


...Michael ...


... and Raphael.
Then we headed west for a mini reprise of our visit to Charleston, at St Michael and All Angels in Berwick.  


It's a 12th century church, built on what looks to be a roughly circular, pre-Christian sacred site, next to a round barrow (or possibly a motte). 


Inside it has an 11th century Saxon font ...


... and a sculpture called 'The Family' by Christopher Furner that is reminiscent of work of Eric Gill ... 


... and some good glass by J Powell and Sons ...


... plus some clear glass installed following war damage ...


... which serves to illuminate (a little) the wonderful 1940s wall-paintings by Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell. 


Nope, going to have to put the lights on after all.


The original pupit was vandalised in 1962, after Vanessa's death, and repainted by Duncan Grant to a design by Angelica Garnett, Vanessa's daughter.


As usual, there are far better photos than mine on line.



All the while we were in the Church there was a screaming outside which sounded very much like swifts. Upon investigation, it seemed to be coming from the tower and I wondered if it was a brood of late, almost-ready-to-fledge nestlings.  

I really hadn't expected to hear that sound again this summer and was thrilled.

Back home I discovered that the Church was recently involved in a swift conservation project with local schoolchildren, so it seems a reasonable guess.


Meanwhile, it was getting autumnal, and time for the long drive home. 

I'm getting to really like Sussex and its curiosities. I'll be back soon.