Saturday, September 29, 2012

Michaelmas Mop Fair

Today is Michaelmas day so we decided to visit Little Moreton Hall  and join in the fun of the  Michaelmas Mop Fair.  Michaelmas takes its name from the feast of St Michael the Archangel. In Tudor times Michaelmas was the celebration of the end of the harvest and over four days the change of the season was celebrated. 

Michaelmas was also one of the quarter days on the year's calendar so it was the time of year when tithes were paid, when rent was due and when servants were hired and paid.  Some people who didn't have money paid with a fattened goose.

It was also a time of feasting and geese became the favourite as they were fat and ready to eat at this time of year.  It was thought it was lucky to eat goose at Michaelmas and many Goose fairs were held at this time of year too, some towns and cities like Nottingham still have their Goose Fairs although quite different now.

In the dining parlour was the Grateful Goose!  There is an old saying  'He who eats goose on Michaelmas Day, shan't money lack or debts pay.'    As this one was made of paper I don't think he will make the dining table except as a centre piece.

The tradition of hiring servants at Michaelmas led to the creation of 'Mop Fairs' where prospective servants would seek out work by walking about carrying or wearing a symbol of their trade.  I chose to carry the symbol of a milk maid and Paul that of a baker.   Paul was hired and given a ribbon to say he was employed, there were enough milk maids so I didn't get employed!  We were told it was almost a death warrant to not get employed as it could lead to absolute destitution.  Oh, dear!!

No fattened goose for me at the Mop Fair festivities!

There were plenty of others activities and interesting costumed people to talk to.

You could make corn dollies ........ if only you could find the corn dolly maker

Ah, there he is!

and here is one of the milkmaids who did get employment!

We had a lovely afternoon, the sun shone for most of the time.

People were lunching outside.  We sat in and ate tasty cheese and chutney sandwiches with a mug of coffee.  As usual I took far too many photos so below is a little collage of some of the other things that caught my eye.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dahlias at Dorothy Clive

I think we need a bit of colour after the last couple of days of the most awful, wet and windy weather, don't you?  I  know very little about Dahlias and have never grown them and if I'm honest have never really taken much notice of them but the ones we saw on Saturday were delightful and just what was needed to lift the spirits after last week's miserable weather - and this without even knowing what awful weather we would be subject to on Sunday and Monday! The weather reporters said that Saturday would be a dry and sunny day and so it proved.

We always always try and visit the Dorothy Clive Gardens at least once each year.  When we  lived closer to the gardens in a small village on the way to Market Drayton we used to buy a season ticket but since we moved into the city we don't visit as regularly.  For some reason we hadn't got round to visiting this year, again probably due to the awful spring and summer weather, so on Saturday it was time to rectify that.

I'm hoping I'm right when I say that all

these different flowers in their various colours and shapes

some with tightly closed  petals and some with more open or spiky petals

are Dahlias, please let me know if they aren't!

There were other forms of wildlife in the garden too!

At last after waiting most of the summer we saw butterflies

 lots of them!

also a cat on a mission - I wonder what she was watching so intently?

and a Chester rhino called Blossom!  She was designed by artist Sarah Jane Richards, who took her inspiration from the beautiful gardens of Cheshire, for the 'Rhino Mania' rhino trail held in Chester two years ago.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Powis Castle Gardens

On our way back from a recent short break in North Wales we decided to head further south along the coast and then make our way home through Welshpool towards Shrewsbury so that we could visit Powis Castle.  I think it's at least ten years since our last visit and the gardens hadn't changed, they were still as beautiful as I remembered them.

We went into the castle first but no photographs were allowed because the contents are still owned by the Herbert family although the property is administered by the National Trust.  Its interior is quite dark to protect the furnishings and wall hangings which are very decorative and elaborate.  So much to see, an exquisite book of hours, wonderful paintings and an Elizabethan long gallery off of which is an opulent state bedroom.    After tea and scones in the cafe we set off to wander around the gardens.

With terraces on different levels you wind your way down the hill on which the castle stands to the wonderful late summer/early autumn borders.

Past wonderful architectural features and statuary

Stopping awhile to gaze at the views of the hills beyond

To the gates at the bottom of the garden.
This border against the wall next to the croquet lawn was so beautiful!

The weather was sunny and warm after the damp mist and stiff breeze on the coast earlier in the day

The apples were ripening on the trees and everywhere you looked seem lush and green.

A perfect, restful break on our journey home.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Who'd have belived it?

Anyone who has been reading my blog for some time will know of my long standing interest in Richard III as I've written quite a few posts over the years about him or places connected with him.This last week we've been in Wales on a short break before Paul starts his seasonal job.  We never have internet access whilst away and very rarely buy a newspaper, this coupled with the fact that the cable TV was down on the site where we were staying leaving only a few channels available - there are only so many episodes of Noddy in Welsh you can watch no matter how cute it is - that by Thursday I felt I should perhaps find out what was going on in the world and bought a newspaper.  I was so glad I did because this article set my thoughts whirling.

Article from the 'i' newspaper Thursday 13th September 2012
  It was only on August 28th (see my last post) that we visited the 'dig' in a Leicester car park where archaeologists from Leicester University were searching for the remains of Greyfriars priory and at the same time hoping against hope to find the remains of  King Richard III who, according to records, was buried in the choir of the priory church.  Who would have believed that they would actually find any remains at all let alone those of an English King?

A print of the portrait of Richard III from the National Portrait Gallery bought and framed for me by a friend for my 21st birthday.

All the evidence gleaned so far seems to point towards one of the two skeletons found being that of Richard! If the DNA matches that of known descendants then this is marvellous beyond measure.  Who'd have thought it possible that Richard's remains would be found after all this time in just a few weeks?

I said as I read out the article 'if it is him, I wonder where he will be re-buried?'.   It would be wonderful if he stayed in Leicester but there are a few other options.  Possibly York as he was so popular and well-loved there and was indeed a 'northern' King, which politically was part of his downfall,  but also his birthplace Fotheringhay (which I visited for the second time  earlier this year) where he was born at the castle and where his parents Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville are buried in the church.  The York chapel there which would be ideal. 

The York chapel in the church at Fotheringhay - photo taken by me  in May this year.

The DNA test will take 12 to 15 days to process we await the results with great interest, excitement and hope.

Sundial on Ambion Hill which offers panoramic views of the site of the Battle of Bosworth.  Taken by me at the Battlefield Heritage Centre and Country Park, July 2011.

Link -  to my post about Fotheringhay

Link - to the latest news from the Leicester Mercury

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

In Leicester

Last Tuesday as a birthday treat I was taken to Leicester, the city where I was born, too many years ago now to mention.  We left when I was six years old so my memories are very vague, I know we lived in what was called 'the nut streets' (now mostly demolished and the area at present  the infirmary car park) close to the Granby Hall (that too is no more) on Napier Street and I attended a local school on either Hazel Street or Filbert Street. Anyway on last week's visit I wanted to see if we could find the council car park in the city centre where archaeologists from Leicester University are digging a couple of trenches to see if they can find evidence of the church belonging to the Franciscan priory of Greyfriars which stood somewhere in the vicinity.  There is  hope that they may also find the bones of King Richard III buried there.  It is on record that he was buried in the church after his battered body was brought back from the battlefield at Bosworth where he lost his life fighting for his crown on 22nd August 1485.

We did eventually find the car park down a little lane just across the road from the Guildhall and Cathedral and behind the Social Services Offices.  There was one long trench which had been taken down through modern, Victorian and earlier layers to the start of the medieval period. 

I've been keeping up to date with the progress of the dig since we visited by reading the reports in the Leicester Mercury on line - link - to latest the report which gives details of some interesting and relevant finds of the right kind of building materials.  Whilst we were there a man was filming the dig for a documentary to be shown on channel 4 later this year.

Before we found the site of the excavations we had a wonderful time looking around the Guildhall and the Jewry Wall Museum.  We had a lovely lunch in a little cafe on Loseby Lane called  Cafe Dido, the goat's cheese fig and apple paninis were very tasty!

The Guildhall stands at the side of the Cathedral, the entrance down a little lane between the two  The earliest part of it is the great hall, which according to their information, was built around 1390  to be used as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi.  Here is a  - link - to more information.

Below are more photos of The Guildhall.

 I loved the lamp, weather vane and chimneys in the entrance courtyard.

The automaton clock which is reconstruction of an original 17th century clock from All Saint's church, Highcross Street.  Apparently it chimes on the hour but we didn't hear it during our visit.
 Lovely leaded windows

The great hall

The unusual chair/desk  at the end of the parlour is 18th century and according to the label was probably used for some sort of oath taking ceremony.

More lovely windows

In 1632 the town library was moved from St Martin's Church to the Guildhall.  There are quite a few books still remaining in the upper rooms.  Many of a later date, of course.

After the building of the new Town Hall in 1876 the Guildhall was used for many different purposes including being the headquarters of the local police force.

You can see into the police cells - in this one is Emma Smith a notorious pick-pocket!

I mentioned the Jewry Wall museum earlier in this post but I'll have to include that in a later post as this one is already far too long!    We also looked in a fair few shops on our way around the city centre - especially book shops so all in all it was a very satisfying day not least because it was, for once,  a lovely sunny day- a special birthday treat!