Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Avebury - Part Three

I discovered that Avebury holds other delights besides the Stone Circle. Above is this lovely Elizabethan manor house which is built on the site of a 12th century Benedictine priory. The family still live in part of it though it has been made over to the dreaded National Trust so some of it is open to the public. I didn't have time to look round as they have timed guided tours and the first available place was at 4.40pm - too late for me with a 2 1/2 hour drive ahead and dinner booked for 7.30pm. I shall go round it on my next visit to Avebury though.

This is the side of the house, there are some nice wooden seats and I sat here in the shade and had a late picnic lunch with not another soul in sight.

After my lunch I had a walk round the gardens which are lovely, I came across this small pet cemetery in a shady corner. The graves were all family pets, both cats and dogs, going back to the 1920s and 30s as well as more recent ones. The inscriptions showed how greatly loved they all were though some of the older stones are barely legible now.

When I walked through into the next section of the garden I met a small friend. It took me ages to get this photo, he was so friendly and liked me stroking and talking to him so every time I tried to back off to take a photo he followed me:)

The garden was laid out in 'rooms' and nearest the back of the house was this wonderful topiary garden. I've never wanted topiary in my own garden but I love looking at it in really old gardens like this one where it looks exactly right.

More topiary - I think this may be a peacock, but then again it may not:)

Just by the entrance gates to the Manor is this pretty stone dovecote, it belonged to the Lord of the Manor and provided him with a source of fresh meat in the winter months.

There were some really pretty cottages in the village, the two furthest away are thatched but I actually prefer the slate roofed ones that have such pretty little gardens in front.

I know that I have some fans of old churches out there so this is for you - St James' Church dates back to Saxon times and there are still visible traces of the original church inside.

This is the Norman doorway with its lovely carved arch

Now I have to say that church architecture is not my strong point! St James' church has a very rare medieval rood loft which survived the Reformation by being covered in plaster and hidden. It was discovered and restored in the 1830s and I think the photograph above is it. For those of you who know as little about rood screens and lofts as I do I've lifted this information straight from Wikipedia:

The rood screen (also choir screen or chancel screen) is a common feature in late medieval church architecture. It is typically an ornate screen, constructed of wood, stone or wrought iron. It divides the chancel ( the area with the main altar in a church) from the nave (the main part of the church for the congregation).

The word rood is derived from the Saxon word rode, meaning "cross". The rood screen is so called because it was surmounted by the Rood itself, a large figure of the crucified Christ, Often, to either side of the Rood, there stood supporting statues of saints, such as St Mary and St John.

Sometimes the Rood stood in a narrow loft (called the "rood loft") set high up, usually level with the springing of the chancel arch. Sometimes the rood loft was substantial enough to be used as a singing gallery; access was via a rood stair.

The carving or construction of the rood screen often includes latticework, which makes it possible to see through the screen partially from the nave into the chancel. The term "chancel" itself derives from the Latin word cancelli meaning "lattice".

The nave is part of the Saxon church dating from around 1000AD and the arch in the wall is one of the original windows.

The font is almost 1000 years old and was originally just a plain stone tub. The carving wasn't added until the early 12th century.

I hope you've enjoyed visiting Avebury with me, next it is on to Sussex and the 16th Century Dairy.


Val said...

Fantastic font! Love the carving. I was on a ringing outing there once, but we had a "lock out" and couldnt find anyone to let us in to ring the bells. So I happily spent the time in the gift shop and communing with the stones!

meggie said...

What a fabulous post! I especially loved the house & garden pics, & the little pet cemetary. I am not big on churches, but can admire the architecture.

Janet said...

Your photos are so beautiful. I love the Elizabethan house and would love to have free reign to wander around (not likely!)....the topiary garden has nice shapes. Not some of the silly things you see now. And the church is spectacular even though I'm not usually into churches. The last photo is quite interesting....the carving is so pretty.

lila said...

I love visitng with you. the old church was so full of history and atmosphere...and I love the way the light is streaming in near the baptismal font!

smilnsigh said...

All beautiful photographs. I especially love the Elizabethan manor house. Oh sighhhhhhhhhhhhhh... I do hope you'll be able to get back to Avebury and take a tour.

And I always love pictures of village cottages. Especially with gardens in front. -more oh sigh- :-)


Remiman said...

I like looking at topiary gardens also. I could never have them because I've neither the foritude or the patience to keep them up.
Thanks for the detailed photos and description of the church. As you know old churchs are a favorite of mine...the older the better. I wonder if I was a medieval priest in a previous life. ;-)

Sheila said...

Lovely post Rowan. The Elizabethan Manor house is beautiful, I wonder if Elizabeth ever slept there.
She seems to have slept in a lot of places if you believe the guide books. I agree with you, the topiary garden is perfect there, as it needs a house and garden with the right proportions to show it off properly. The church, what can I say. I will just drool. I am a fanatic,(tho' not especially religious,) they have a real attraction for me, the older the better.
Thank you, I did enjoy this..

Ragged Roses said...

Wonderful post Rowan. I agree with you about topiary, it only looks right in grand settings. However, I've always wanted a dovecote, no I don't live in a grand setting either but they are very romantic (perhaps I could have a mini one!). It all looks beautiful.

Julie Marie said...

I'm so jealous! I want to live in England. I know, I know, the grass is always greener on the other side. Thank you for letting me enjoy your experience vicariously. (And my feet don't hurt from all that walking!)

Blue the Spa Girl said...

I adore the house. It is everything I imagine about England. I hope to one day get over the pond and see some of it for myself. Thanks for the wonderful photos and education Rowan!!!

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Super post Rowan! Lovely!

Britt-Arnhild said...

Oh, to live in such a manor.....though I think I would prefere the white village cittage :-)
Thanks for taking me along your walk.

peppylady said...

topiary gardens I wonder how much time and energy it takes to do one. I'm lucky to keep my weeds down to a minumun amount.

cherry menlove said...

Oh Rowan what wonderful pictures. I fall in love with England all over again when I see pictures like those of the cottages. Thank you for sharing your lovely day. I liked coming along with you.

Love Cherry xx

Sophie Honeysuckle said...

Gorgeous photos! Especially the garden ones and the cottages! So summery!

Daisy Lupin said...

What an exceptionally beautiful Manor House. What a difference in Gabriel since the last photo I saw of him, he is growing up quickly. Your poppies are beautiful, luckily I have plenty still to bloom, but they are such a fleeting beauty.

PAT said...

Thank you Rowan!! This has been an amazingly wonderful journey!!

I'm looking forward to Sussex and the 16th Century Dairy.

I absolutely love England! I'm so happy I found your blog!

Back Porch Musings

sheoflittlebrain said...

I just read an English novel with just such a dovecoate in it. Now I can see what it actually looked like! Your blog is wonderful, and your pictures and descriptions are delightful.

Betty said...

Breath-taking.....Enjoyed the tour...Betty at Country Charm