Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stoke Minster - Part One

Stoke Minster, formerly the church of St Peter ad Vincula, became Stoke Minster in 2005 and stands on Glebe Street opposite the Kings Hall and present Civic Centre in the town of Stoke.   Stoke is one of the six towns which make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent the others being Hanley which is the city centre, Burslem known as the Mother town, Tunstall, Fenton and Longton.

The church we see now was designed by James Trubshaw and built in 1826 but there have been earlier churches on this site

The first church was a wooden building founded in the 7th century, the first stone church was built around 805 and this was altered and added to over the years the chancel being completely rebuilt in the 13th century.

In the churchyard is the remains of a Saxon Cross which dates from the 8th century

Close by are the tombs of the Spode family whose factory premises still stand in the centre of Stoke.  The tomb on the left is the resting place of Josiah Spode I and his wife Ellen.  This Josiah was credited with the introduction of underglaze blue transfer printing and the using of bone ash to make bone china.

In the churchyard are also the remains of the older stone building.  The arches below were reassembled in the 1880s with stones from the Saxon church which were found in the water course of Boothen Mill.  The inscription on the stones above reads  'site of the altar and sanctuary of the ancient church'

Behind the arches you can see the iron railings which protect the very plain resting place of the great potter Josiah Wedgwood I.  He was buried at the  entrance of the earlier church - demolished in 1829 - as he was a non conformist and not a member of the Church of England.

In complete contrast to the simplicity of Wedgwood's stone that of Herbert Stansfield, late of Middlewich is decorated with an elaborate carving of the coat of arms of the Free Masons and other masonic symbols.

If you read my last post you will remember the memorial inscription below to Sibil and Henry Clarke who both, according to the stone mason,  appear to have lived to the age of 112.  I couldn't just leave this and had to follow up with a bit of research.

I looked at microfiche of the Parish Registers transcribed by the Staffordshire Parish Registers Society in 1914, edited by Percy W L Adams from Wolstanton.  Using the index I found references to Clark, Clarke, Clerk and Clerke and looked at them all on the fiche for 1629 to 1688. 

I found the entry for the burial of Sibil Clarke as Sibylla Clerk on 24th December 1684,  with a note in brackets added by the editor referring to her age on the gravestone.   I looked at the other references to the variations on the Clark name and found two children born to Henry and Sibil Clarke  as follows:-

16th June 1633 - Elizabeth, fil Henrici Clerke and Sibilla
and 15th October 1636  Henricus f Henrici Clerke and Sibilla

If Sibil was 112 in 1684 she would have been born in 1572 so in 1633 she would have been around 61 and in 1636 she would have been 64!  Using the 1914 index I couldn't find a marriage recorded for Henry and Sibil in the registers, they could have been married elsewhere of course, also I couldn't find a burial for Henry.  He did crop up one more time in the registers in 1674 when he was mentioned in a year end report as joint finance officer with an Isaac Key.  Although that Henry could, of course, by then have been Henry the son of Henry and Sibil Clarke.  I think by looking at the parish registers I've raised even more questions than I had before but if the Sybil and Henry Clarke mentioned in the registers are the ones recorded on the gravestone then there is no way they could have been aged 112.  It's unlikely that there was another Henry and Sibil Clarke not mentioned in the registers so it seems to me that the ages on the gravestone are probably not true. 

Right, after all that I'm off to watch Inspector Montalbano.
Have a great rest of the weekend

Monday, September 23, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week 38

Where has the time gone?  This week has passed by so quickly!  We've had one or two outings including a walk around Shugborough (see my last post) a visit to Stoke Minster (post to follow) and a walk at Greenways Country Park (perhaps a post to follow)  Here are four happy things from the week.
 1.  Friendly Robin - the robin came and perched near us whilst we were sitting drinking our coffee in a seating area on the boardwalk at the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust's Wolesley Centre on Wednesday (see my last post).  I quickly took a photo.  It wasn't until I looked at the photo on the computer that I could read the dedication on the seat - happy Threlfall family!

 2.  Straight from the tree -damsons and apples freshly picked from their trees at the Shugborough Estate.  A volunteer gardener had just brought them in baskets to the produce sales area and was putting them into bags for people to take away - we gave a donation for a bag of damsons which made four pots of jam and an apple and damson crumble.  The apples were so delicious - they brought back childhood memories of freshly picked apples from Auntie Ruth's orchard.  Tart and sweet at the same time, thin skins and crunchy flesh.  So unlike the thick skinned, tasteless and woolly fleshed apples that come from the supermarket.  I haven't enjoyed eating an apple so much in ages.

3.  Moss and Lichen - I have a thing about old stone walls covered in moss and lichen and we saw plenty on our walk on Saturday which was around the Greenways country park at Knypersley.  We were there for nearly three hours and it was a wonderful morning walking under the trees, climbing up to the folly, discovering the memory tree and spotting grebes on the lake and cormorants roosting in the trees. 

4.  Longevity?  - This memorial stone in the Minster churchyard made me smile because there amongst the Wedgwoods and Spodes were Sibil and Henry Clarke who both, according to the stonemason, lived to 112.  The stone is dated 1684 - which is a date I remember from my school history books as the year the Bank of England was founded and the year before Charles II shuffled of his mortal coil. I can never remember if his last words were  'gentlemen,pardon me for being such a long time a-dying' or 'let not poor Nelly starve' but I digress.  Who were Henry and Sibil Clarke?  Husband and wife?  Brother and sister?  Father and daughter?  Mother and son?  Did they really both live to be 112? Did they both die in 1684?  Did the stonemason make a mistake with the ages?  Wouldn't it be nice to know.

Linking up with  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The 'Four Bridges' Walk

On Wednesday we decided we wanted a day away from the building work and, even though the weather forecast wasn't great,  we decided to just get in the car and see where it took us.  We started out at the Wolseley Centre, the headquarters of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, but we didn't stay there very long as when we arrived the car park was full to overflowing and cars were parked along the grass verges.  We did eventually park and popped into the centre - there was a large conference taking place - hence all the cars.  We walked around the boardwalk and down by the river but the heavens opened so we went back to the car to decide what to do next.  As Shugborough isn't too far down the road that is where we ended up. 

We decided we didn't want to go into the Mansion House this time and that we just wanted to walk around the grounds and across to the island arboretum.  As the weather was unpredictable there weren't many people around so we more or less had the walk to ourselves. 

We crossed the blue bridge on to the island

There is a lovely view of the back of the Mansion House from there

Then we crossed back over the river from the island over the red bridge

and then down by the river although the skies were grey and it always look as if rain was pending it didn't actually rain during the walk.

 We walked as far as the Essex Bridge

and then over the bridge towards the canal

then over the canal bridge

into the village of Great Heywood. We had a little walk around the village before returning across the Essex bridge and back into the grounds of the Shugborough Estate.

This time with a fine view of the front of the Mansion House

We walked back across the parkland past the Tower of the Winds

and the farmhouse - I love this building!  The inside is wonderful!

and back into the walled garden where we admired the lovely flowers and bought some freshly picked damsons and apples from the sales table which was full of the most glorious produce and an honesty box in which to pay whatever you thought was a good price for the goods.

As we left the walled garden the heavens opened again so we hurried back to the car getting a little wet in the process but we'd been lucky to get such a long walk in before it rained again.

I've written previous posts on both Shugborough and the Essex Bridge so I haven't put much explanation in the text in this post but I've put some links below to earlier posts if you want to read more.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week 37

I've missed out on writing a post between 'happies' this week.  I usually try and post something about somewhere we've visited or what we've done around the house and garden but last week was very slow with work still being done at the back of the conservatory and garage and the weather not being very conducive to working in the garden although I did manage to mow the lawns on Saturday afternoon before the rains came.  We've been tied to home quite a bit so jobs like defrosting the freezer, clearing out the fridge and dusting the bookcases and the tops of wardrobes have been done.  It has been a struggle to find four happy things this time but I've managed to find a few things that made me smile as we did venture out a couple of times during the week.

1.  Coffee in the gardens - we often take our own flask as coffee out can be quite expensive but after a walk around the lake at Trentham we bought a takeaway coffee and sat and sipped it before taking a peek at the gardens which leads me to ...........

2. Pinkish purples - or are they purplish pinks? Whatever they are I loved the colours of the flowers in the gardens and the way they complemented each other as they shimmered in the sunshine and waved in the breeze made me smile.  Whilst we are on the theme of colour........

3.  A new scarf and gloves - in similar colours to the flowers above.  It was quite chilly when we we went for a walk over the weekend so I got out my old walking jacket it looked a little dull so later, when we were shopping, I saw a scarf and some gloves that would go with it and brighten it up a bit and, of course, keep me warm as the days get chillier.

4.  Little Rockets  -  little seedlings which started to appear only a day after we'd sown them in a pot in the kitchen windowsill.  It has been fun watching them grow and there are still loads of seeds left for growing in the future.  Thank you, Diane!

Linking up with  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy - Week 36

I'm a bit late with my 'happies' this week. As I mentioned in my previous post the last few days have been wonderful.  The misty, dew damp mornings and the golden glow of the evenings.  We've managed to get out walking a few mornings this week and on Wednesday had a trip to Attingham Park - again see my last post-  it was a perfect day for wandering in the gardens and grounds.   Here are a few more  happy things which have made me smile this week.

1. Hollyhocks and Chickens - both remind me of my maternal grandma's home and garden.  She had a wall at the side of the house with hollyhocks growing against it in the summer and a few hens for eggs in a shed at the bottom of the garden.  When I stayed with her, usually in the summer holidays, I guess I would have been four or five years old, the sound of the cockerel would wake me up every morning.  Both sets of photos were taken in the cut flower show garden at Trentham gardens.

2.  Steam Train - the train at Consall Station on the Churnet Valley Railway.  We sat in the sunshine waiting for the train to come into the station watching the dragon flies hovering over the picnic tables.  I love the sound of the engines and the buzz of excitement that people have as the train pulls in and then pulls away, children waving,  to continue its journey.  We watched it leave the station then continued our walk in the country park.

3. Fruit - lovely ripe figs - I wish we had our own tree the ones below are courtesy of Aldi!  Also plums from our own tree, just a few this year, enough to make a plum crumble for tea.  Last year we had loads, enough for jam, wine, chutney and loads of crumbles.

4.  Woodland Walks - there are lots of different fungi to be found on the damp, sheltered ground under the trees.  We found quite a few varieties to photograph at Consall on Sunday.  They do seem to be around earlier this year.

Linking up with  Little Birdie  where  '52 weeks of Happy' started. Each week you find just four things that have made you happy to share. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Days of Richness and Plenty

Haven't the last few days been wonderful?

Days shortened by early morning mists and brilliant sunsets

Mornings that were the harbingers of autumn.........

followed by afternoons and evenings still clinging to the last rays of the summer sun

the seasonal downpours welcomed by the gardens

where dusty cobwebs create fairy bridges between trees, plants and flowers

It's hard to bid the summer farewell

but very soon we must do just that

To help us feel able to take that step

the garden is full of riches

Veritable jewels in the crown

of the gardening year

As we look back on how wonderful it all was

We also look forward to the new season's rich bounty.

Photos taken on Wednesday 4th September in the walled garden, orchard and kitchen garden at Attingham Park.