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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud......

During the summer one of our days out in the Lake District was to Grasmere to visit the two houses lived in by the poet William Wordsworth. The little white house is Dove Cottage. William and his sister Dorothy moved here in 1799 and in 1802 William married Mary Hutchinson and their three eldest children were born here.

Clicking on the photograph will enlarge it so that you can read the information. Ullswater is 9 miles from Grasmere so we didn't see the actual place where Wordsworth saw his 'host of golden daffodils', that will have to be for a future visit.

This is the back of the cottage taken from the middle of the steep little garden which William and his sister designed and where they spent much of their time. The house you can see beyond wasn't there in the early 1800s so there would have been a lovely view across the fell at the time when the Wordsworths lived there.

There were always a lot of visitors staying with the Wordsworths at Dove Cottage and with their growing family it became too small. I have to say that it would have been quite a squash with just William,Mary and Dorothy! Apparently at times it was a bit like a modern sleepover with people sleeping on the floor wherever they could find space. It must have been absolute chaos! In 1808 they moved and, after brief periods in two other houses, in 1813 they moved to Rydal Mount which is in the photo above. They lived here for the next 46 years.

The summer house at Rydal Mount where William Wordsworth often sat composing his poetry.

A view from the garden looking down to Rydal Water.

This is the parish church of St Oswald in Grasmere which dates back to the very early 14th century.

A plaque giving a little information about the church and the saint to whom it is dedicated.

This is the grave of William Wordsworth and his wife Mary.

This is the Wordsworth family plot in St Oswald's churchyard with the grave of Dorothy Wordsworth in the centre. Dorothy kept a detailed journal of her life at Dove Cottage which wasn't published until after her death. It's a fascinating book giving a vivid picture of life and the countryside in the early 19th century.

The interior of the church showing the medieval Nave and the ancient timber roof trusses.

The arches in the previous picture were made in the 1500s when the original church was enlarged and they give access to the Langdale Aisle in the above photo. We happened to be in Grasmere in the week following the annual Rushbearing Ceremony. The medieval Nave was made of beaten earth until the 1800s when it was finally flagged. The floor of the church was covered in rushes to sweeten the air and try(vainly I imagine!)to keep dampness and mud at bay. The rushes were renewed annually with great ceremony, this describes it better than I can. In the photo you can see the rush covered floor.

This is the font also decorated for the Rushbearing, Wordsworth's children were baptized here.

Grasmere has another claim to fame besides William Wordsworth and that is Grasmere Gingerbread originally invented by Sarah Nelson. The package in the photograph was bought from the cottage where Grasmere Gingerbread was originally made.

The contents of the package - long since gone I'm afraid! It's an odd mix of a biscuit and a cake but very moorish.

A final view of the countryside around Grasmere, it's a really beautiful area and well worth visiting if you ever get chance.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fun at the Farm and Kentwell Hall

I recently went down to Suffolk to spend a couple of days with Neil,Cesca and the boys. There was a Harvest Open Day on at a local farm so we went along. Gabriel was fascinated by the goats.

There was a little playground for the children, he loves playing on a slide.

Ready to Roll!!

They had pick-your-own corn so we ventured into the jungle to get some.

The next day was my belated birthday treat and I was taken to Kentwell Hall for one of their Tudor re-enactment days. An invasion by the Spanish Armada is expected at any moment and the men of the Estate form a militia which must train to defend England against the Spaniards. This brave lad is priming a small canon which was fired regularly during the afternoon. It made us jump at first then you got use to the noise. Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.

English archers were the best in the world and villagers were required to practise at the butts regularly.

A quiet moment and a chance for some gossip and perhaps a little flirting?

There are a surprising number of children among the re-enactors, here are some enjoying a chance to ride one of the big working horses.

These two are off to the fields perhaps to help with the last of the harvest

A lovely peaceful rural scene.

There was a group of people doing natural dyeing, I thought this line of newly dyed yarn was just beautiful. The colours are so soft and rich. I watched as some yarn being dyed in indigo was taken out of the vat, it came out a sort of dirty cream and then before my eyes it started to turn blue and the colour got deeper and deeper. It was amazing to see.

The wool being carded ready for spinning.

Explanations for interested spectators - though George seems more interested in sleeping than listening.

I couldn't decide what these ladies were doing and finally had to ask, the answer was really unexpected. They are washing animal guts that will eventually be turned into the strings for musical instruments. If I'd guessed all day I wouldn't have come up with that and yet I did know that this is what the strings were made of - I just didn't make the connection.

I couldn't resist this - felt hat making is obviously tiring work!

The Lord and Lady of the manor honoured us with a word as they passed by.

Strolling players entertaining the passing crowds.

There was plenty on the Home Farm to entertain Gabriel too, as well as various kinds of poultry and the horses there were large black pigs...........

more goats.......

and cows.......

and some donkeys with incredibly shaggy coats. There was so much more to see, we never got inside the house at all so next summer we'll be going back again for one of the Tudor days.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

An Ancestral Village

I'm back again after quite a long absence but hopefully I'll be blogging more regularly again now that autumn and winter are ahead of us. I've got something of a backlog of things to post about but as these photos are already uploaded from weeks ago I'll start with this. I've been researching my family history for many years and one of my ancestors is a lady called Hannah Daykin, my 3xgt grandmother. Hannah married Henry Brown in Crich, Derbyshire in 1798 and lived in Crich for the remainder of her very long life. She died in 1861 at the age of 84. I know quite a lot about her from 1798 on but her birth still remains a mystery, on the 1851 and 1861 Census returns she gives the Derbyshire village of Chelmorton as her birthplace. So far I haven't been able to find a baptism for her in either Chelmorton or any of the nearby villages but earlier this summer I decided to go and look around the village which is where she obviously grew up. The photo above is of Chelmorton church, it is in a lovely setting on a hill at the top of the village. Both the church and the village are ancient and interesting.

This is one of the two Charity Boards, it dates back to 1667 and lists the bequests from various local people to the poor of the parish. These are still collected and distributed annually. Double clicking on the photo will enable you to read it.

This shows the screen between the chancel and the nave, the wooden part is relatively modern but under it is the very rare stone screen carved by a stonemason in about 1345. Four years later the Black Death swept through England killing about a third of the population. I wonder whether the man who carved this screen survived?

This is the Parish Chest where the parish registers and other important parish records were kept, the inscription carved onto the top reads ' Ralph Buxton of Flagg gave this 1630'.

This needs clicking on so that you can see it properly. It is a wonderful map showing the medieval layout of the village, it is one long street with farms and cottages at intervals. It shows also the medieval field system which would have been two huge open fields surrounding the village and each villager owned a number of strips in each field. This open field system meant that everyone had to plant the same crops at the same time and work in co-operation with each other.

Part of the Elizabethan church porch showing a Norman dripstone, various ancient grave covers and all sorts of other things incorporated into the walls. In case you are wondering, as I did, what a dripstone is - it's a stone moulding over a door or window which deflects the rain.

As I wandered round the churchyard I found this sad little gravestone of a 6 month old baby. A great many children didn't survive to adulthood in those days.

I couldn't resist photographing this little calf.

These are the medieval field strips to the left of the village street. Each strip is now enclosed by a drystone wall but the field pattern is quite clear.

These are the field strips on the righthand side of the village street and these are even clearer. I found it fascinating to wander round wondering whether Hannah had walked there before me over 200 years ago. I still hope that one day I shall find her baptism and maybe even discover the cottage where she lived.