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Rye Harbour
Rye Harbour
Rye was a famous port in the middle ages. Then the sea retreated (as it does). The present harbour is situated on a bend of the river Rother, about a mile from town and supports (according to one website) "a significant fishing fleet".
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Brookland
Brookland
Here's a shot of the interior. The South aisle looking west. What you're seeing isn't a fish-eye distortion; the pillars really do lean like that. I assume it's because the foundations have shifted in the marshy soil.

Brookland

May. 18th, 2006 10:07 pm
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Brookland
Brookland
This is St Augustine, Brookland, on the edge of Romney Marsh in Kent. There are lots of early 19th century people called Grist buried in the churchyard. I like to think they were my ancestors.

My father was stationed here during the war. He was with a Naval bomb disposal unit. Why the Germans were dropping bombs on a part of the world that contains nothing but sheep is beyond me.

The belltower stands separate from the church- like an Italian campanile. To the best of my knowledge there's nothing else like it in Britain. 

Erith

May. 17th, 2006 09:27 pm
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Erith
Erith
Erith is where my grandfather grew up. Think Great Expectations and you won't be too far wrong. This is marsh country- with the difference that Pip's home town was on the Medway and Erith is on the Thames. I'd never been there before. 

The town got a make over in the 70s and is due for another makeover now that a Morrisons superstore has drawn customers away from the 70s shopping centre. There aren't many buildings left that my grandfather would have known- a couple of pubs, a couple of churches, the public library. All the 19th century housing stock has been swept away and where the family home one stood is a (defunct) nightclub called Extremes.

Back Home

May. 17th, 2006 09:25 am
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Well, it seems like I just agreed to move to the other side of the country.

My sister has a house she wants to sell in Faversham and we've said we want to buy it. Faversham is one of my favourite places. When I was an undergrad in the early 70s I discovered it on one of my Larkinesque church-crawls out of Canterbury and decided it was where I'd like to retire. I saw myself taking long crepuscular walks along the tow path by the reedy, rushy river, stick in hand, labrador at side, making my peace with the universe. Who'd have thought it, but perhaps that's what I'm really going to end up doing.

But without the labrador. I'm not trading bunny for a dog.

Back in the 70s Faversham was an undiscovered country of perfect Georgian houses (recently spared from the wrecking ball) and Shakespearian associations (Arden of Faversham- groovy little film noir of an Elizabethan tragedy is one of the worthier items in the Shakespeare apocrypha). Now the yuppies have found it and they've built nice apartments (out of our price range) along the tow path by the reedy, rushy river and Umbrian entrepreneurs are selling exotic, garlicky foodstuffs in the street market. Never mind, it's still next door to Heaven.

And now things are going to start getting intense.
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We left the battlefield, heading west. The village of Fenny Drayton has no connection (that I know of) with the Wars of the Roses, but we made a detour because the name is so pretty and the sun was shining. We weren't disappointed.

Ah, the magnolia tree! 

And the local sandstone! Some of it pink , some of it green...











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At the time they called it the Battle of Redesmoor. Which rather suggests that it was fought, not on Ambion hill where the visitors centre stands, but in the marshy lowlands to the south, between Ambion hill and the village of Dadlington, where many of the dead were buried and where Henry VII established a chantry chapel.  It's odd; Bosworth Field is one of the two or three decisive battles in English history, but we know very little about it- much less (for example)  than we know about the Battle of Hastings four hundred years before.

Later historians called it Bosworth after the nearby town of Market Bosworth to the north. The battle didn't impinge on the town, but its spire is the local landmark, and is visible from most quarters of the presumed battlefield.

It's a mild, unspectacular  Midlands landscape. Tiny villages, a railway line, a canal. Birdsong. Pretty much as I imagined it  in the first [profile] purchas book. (Phew!)

Anyway, here are some pictures:


The Church at Market Bosworth


Market Bosworth on its ridge, viewed from Ambion hill.


Looking South from Ambion hill, towards the likely site of the battle. There wasn't a wood there in 1485.


From Ambion Hill looking west



King Richard's Well. Legend has it that Richard III drank from this well before the battle. The fancy pyramid is the work of a late 19th century American Richardian. 

Oldham Edge

Apr. 5th, 2006 11:42 am
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On Oldham Edge the grass is green,
Nicest view that e'er tha's seen.
When tha stands on top and looks about
Nowt but mills wi' a chimney spout.

Ailz says that has to be a pre-war song. The mills have gone now, but the first two lines are as true as ever. 


Woodland

Dec. 12th, 2005 10:27 am
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Yes, there are still some leaves in place.

This is a little belt of woodland I traipse through on my way to Sainsbury's or the railway station. There's a factory on one side (they often have noxious bonfires out in the yard) and a road on the other, but if you angle the camera right you can imagine you're in the Forest of Arden.

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This is St Chad's, Saddleworth- where Bill o'Jacks and Tom o'Bills are buried. As if this wasn't enough there's also a Grey Lady ghost. And as if this wasn't enough there's also a legend that the the fairies didn't like the  original choice of site (on nearby Brown Hill) and moved the stones persistently, night after night, until the builders took the hint and built it here.

By the way, the clock is wrong. These pictures were taken at sundown.

 

 

It's a lonely place. There's no village, just a pub next door and a few farmhouses sprinked about the surrounding landscape.

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Here lie interred the dreadfully bruised and lacerated bodies of William Bradbury and Thomas his son, both of Greenfield, who were savagely murdered in an unusually horrid manner, on Monday night Ap 2 1832, Wm being 84 and Tho 46 years old.

Throughout the land wherever news is read
Intelligence of their sad death has spread.
Those who now talk of far fam'd Greenfield hills
Will think of Bill o'Jacks and Tom o'Bills.

Such interest did their tragic end excite
That ere they were remov'd from human sight
Thousands on thousands came to see
The bloody scene of the catastrophe.

One home, one business and one bed
And one most shocking death they had
One funeral came, one inquest pass'd
And now one grave they had at last.

There are three separate, graveyards clustered round Saddleworth church and it took us two hours to find what we were looking for. The "Bill o'Jacks" murder was a national sensation in its time. I've searched online for a full account of the case and can't find one but, as I remember it, the father and son- William and Thomas Bradbury (known as Bill o'Jacks and Tom o'Bills) were hacked and battered to death (with a shovel) in the little inn they ran on Saddleworth Moor (a bleak and isolated place- think Wuthering Heights) Not only was no-one ever charged with the murder, but (I don't think I'm making this up) the room where they were found was locked on the inside, making it an "impossible" crime.
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Alderley Edge is one of those places- a great, wooded cliff rising abruptly out of the pleasant, undramatic landscape of rural  Cheshire . The rocks are full of copper- and people were mining it all the way through from the Bronze Age  to the close of the 19th century. There's a legend about a magical cavern where a great king sleeps with his army.  Occultists are drawn to the place and local author Alan Garner made it the setting for his classic children's novel The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. 

Here's a version of the Legend of Alderley Edge- as told by Snake Ardwick in my novel Mammary Hill

"A farmer is taking his white mare to market and he gets stopped by an old man at a place called Thieves Hole. The old guy wants to buy the mare. The Farmer says, No. The old man says, OK, but you won't sell the mare at market and I'll be waiting for you on your way back. Sure enough, the mare is much admired, but no-one will buy her. So the farmer is trudging home and he meets the old man again. This time he's willing to sell. The old man says follow me, takes him to the cliff face and strikes it with his staff. The rock splits wide and, lo and behold, there are a pair of iron gates. They go through the gates and down a long passage and come to a cavern where all these men in armour are lying asleep. And beside each warrior stands a white mare. Only they're a horse short. What's going on here? asks the farmer, and the Wizard- cause he is a wizard, see- pointy hat, long white beard, the works- the Wizard says, this is a great king and his knights. They're sleeping here until a time when Britain is in mortal peril. Then they will rise from their sleep and save the day.

Jonathon interrupts at this point and says, "so the Wizard's Merlin and the King must be Arthur."

I say, "Well probably, but the story doesn't actually say so. That's its subtlety."

"So what happened?"

"Well," I continue, "the farmer trips over something and makes a noise and one of the knights raises his head and asks, is it the time? And the wizard answers, No, not yet. Then the Wizard takes the farmer to a treasure chest and tells him to fill his pockets in payment for the mare. After that, he leads the farmer out of the cavern, strikes the iron gates with his staff and they disappear. Then he disappears himself. And no-one from that day to this has ever seen the iron gates again.

Vikings

Sep. 17th, 2005 10:20 am
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We were leaving Preston yesterday and we came across this little group of stone Vikings (on the slip road leading to the motorway.) I don't know what they're doing there but they've got bits of metal embedded in them and holes in odd places, which suggests they've been salvaged from some building or other.

I did some research (I Googled) and it turns out that Preston is on the Viking highway that runs down the Ribble valley from Jorvik (York) to the Irish Sea. The biggest Viking treasure hoard ever found outside Russia was dug up nearby (at Cuerdale) in 1840. 

 

 

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HERE lieth Molyneaux Bunny who served with Reputation in the Armies of King William and Queen Ann and was a Gentleman born He died on the 6th day of May Anno Dom 1749

No- I didn't invent it. Here's the original inscription.....



Bunny is buried in the churchyard in the Yorkshire town of Penistone (I didn't invent that either) 


 

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The last full day in Catalonia. We visit Girona. The spire of the church of St Feliu is truncated because it got struck by lightning. A thunderstorm starts up as I carry the (metal) wheelchair down the high and exposed cathedral steps.





On the way back to Tossa we pull off the road to watch the hillsides smoking after rain.

Day 4

Jun. 18th, 2005 03:12 pm
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This is where the holiday proper starts. Up early and off to Figueres- Salvador Dali's home town.

The little theatre at Figueres got smashed in the Civil War. Dali rebuilt it and turned it into a shrine to himself which is part art gallery, part House of Fun and part mausoleum (he's buried in the cellar.)

I took pictures, but they're not very good. For a virtual tour click here

Dali was a very shy and inhibited man who disappeared into his performance of himself. I don't think he's a great artist, but he was always interesting and entertaining.

Most of his work looks better in reproduction.

Figueres itself is very attractive and very smart.

We had lunch in a cafe next to the church of Sant Pere.

When we got back to the hotel Ailz went for a swim while I explored the hotel grounds and- looking over the garden wall found we had a Roman villa next door.

To be continued...

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