Thursday, December 29, 2016

Misty, frosty morning walk

Just a few photos from our misty, frosty morning walk around the lake at Trentham this morning.

It was minus two degrees as we parked and the mist descended as we rounded the lake until you couldn't see the other side.  Below are just a few photos of things that caught my eye as we meandered along the paths.

The wonderful wild flower beds from the summer

 now looking beautiful covered in frost.

 By the very busy lakeside cafe the blue tits fed on the feeders mostly noticed by the crowd.

The mist was beginning to descend

 The opposite side of the lake was fast disappearing to sight

 We spotted the pair of black swans on the island in the middle of the lake.

 They swam over close to where we were walking and one of them ventured out of the water.

 There were lots of swans, geese, coots and mallards on the water

 We also saw one female Mandarin duck hiding at the edges of the water.  Not in the photo above though; they are a row of this year's cygnets rapidly turning into swans.

Old tree branches had turned silvery with frost.

 There were primroses too!  So early I don't think they will survive the frost.

 Everywhere was looking so wintry

 and very seasonal too.

Brr...time to return to the warmth of home.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Five on Friday

It's the last Friday before Christmas and time for Five on Friday and it's also the last one until next year. It's been fun hasn't it? Many thanks to Amy at Love Made my Home for hosting our weekly meets ups.   Click on the link at the bottom of this post to find others who are joining in this week.

Here are five things from the past few days.

1.  Piva - every year we go to Little Moreton Hall near Congleton, Cheshire on the weekend before Christmas to listen to Piva, their jolly, festive and ancient music somehow starts the Christmas festivities for us.  This year they had a new CD which we bought and played in the car on the way home. I'm always fascinated by the wonderful array of instruments they bring with them.

2.  Christmas Wreath - just a simple one this year using the frame of woven hazel twigs from the tree in our garden we'd made and used for the last couple of Christmases and foliage from our garden too.  We had friends coming to lunch on Tuesday so I wanted it on the front door for then as a festive welcome. (I may have to take if off if gale Barbara gets any stronger today.)  We had a lovely day, presents were exchanged and lots of lovely conversation was had over good food.

3. Lakeside Walk - we had a lovely walk around the lake at Trentham on Monday morning, the rolling mists amongst the trees and the light relections on the lake were stunning.  I was pleased with my photo of the cormorant drying its wings.  You could see the light through its feathers.

4. Decorations 
  The tree went up on Sunday finally rescued from where it is strapped and lifted up high in the back of the garage.  Cards have finally started arriving the post has seemed slow this year.  Having said that I posted a letter with a second class stamp to our friends in Dronfield to thank them for their hospitality last week and they phoned the next day to say they had received it, so I think it has been an excellent service this year.

5. Tulips 
I wanted some red flowers for my red spotty jug and the only ones that appealed were the tulips, a bit too early really but it is lovely to see them.  They make me think of the Spring to come now the Winter Solstice has passed and we are heading again towards lighter days.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield (The Crooked Spire)

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my last post about the Mediaeval Barn in Dronfield.  I haven't had time yet to reply to them but I promised in that post a few notes about Chesterfield Parish Church also known as The Church of the Crooked Spire - so here goes.....

It is thought that there has been some sort of place of worship on this site since Roman times and the present church stands in the middle of what was a Roman settlement.  The first record of a church in Chesterfield can be found in the Lincoln Cartulary which refers to a church in the town in the time of Edward the Confessor.    The advowson (which means the right to appoint a parish priest of the church) was given to the Dean and chapter of Lincoln Cathedral by William Rufus.  Building of the earliest parts of this church began c. 1234  Further building work, additions and alterations were done over the centuries in 1360, 1500, 1738, 1843 and 1910.

There are various stories about why the spire is crooked or twisted. It was added to the tower in the 14th century.  A possible explanation put forward was that the heat of the sun on green timbers caused one of the main supports to split thus causing the spire to tilt and bulge.  The herringbone pattern of the lead plates adds to the twisted appearance.  There are legends too about why the spire may be crooked.  One is that Satan, whilst flying from Nottingham to Sheffield, landed on the spire and that the scent of incense from the church below caused him to sneeze so violently that he twisted the spire.  The other legend is that when a bride of great beauty and virtue entered the church for her wedding the tower was so overcome that it bowed in admiration and couldn't right itself afterwards.  (Sounds a bit like me when bending down to retrieve something from the floor but that is another story.)

Shall we go inside?

Above, the nave which has two aisles, was completed in 1360 and was built in the Decorated Gothic style.  We visited the church about 10a.m. and the lights weren't on inside so it was quite dark in places.

Above in the Lady Chapel are various monuments and tombs of the Foljambe family, the earliest  from 1510 is for Henry Foljambe and his wife Benedicta.

Apparently the window above which is in the Baptistery, is now the oldest in the church and it was installed in 1874.

The shadows created by the statues on the ceiling and walls of the Choir were amazing.

The early Norman tub font is in the south transept. At some stage it was removed from the church but found later buried in the vicarage garden.  It was restored and returned to the church in 1898.

The alter above was designed by Harold Gibbons in 1936. The window above it was designed by Christopher Webb in 1947.

As you can see, photography was difficult with the lighting conditions and my camera struggled even with flash.  Photos four, five six and seven were taken by Paul the rest are mine.

I'll be back tomorrow with Five on Friday.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Out and About

Last week we spent two days travelling around visiting friends and relatives.
We started out in the village of Holmesfield where we had lunch with friends who are also distant cousins of mine. After lunch we all went for a walk around their nearest town of Dronfield. 

I thought what a nice little town it was.  In the centre were lots of interesting and historic buildings.  Above the old forge which is now a shopping complex and cafe.  Below is the parish church.

What we had particularly wanted to see was The Hall Barn as I'd heard quite a bit about it from various sources and it sounded an interesting place to visit.
The original framework of the barn dates from 1430.  At this time the manor of Dronfield was leased by Lady Alice Deincourt.   Lady Alice was the daughter of a Neville and a Percy two of the most powerful families in England.  She was a great Aunt to Edward IV and Richard III.  

Experts and researchers think that Lady Alice would have had the hall built for her steward as there is no documentary evidence that she ever visited her lands in Dronfield.  The Hall would have had a dais canopy under which the Lord of the Manor would have sat at high table when entertaining important guests.

The barn formed part of the Hall Farm complex later owned by the Rotherham-Cecil estate and there would have been cottages and workshops in front of it.  The site and barn were later owned by the Jowitt factory which carried out essential work and used the barn for storage.  The site was bought by Sainsbury for a supermarket and in 2004 they donated the barn and its surrounding land to the Peel Centre trust for community use.  The Dronfield Heritage Trust was formed and in 2012 they received a Heritage Lottery Grant of £1.2 million to help with the  renovations and restoration of the Hall Barn.  Downstairs in the extension are rooms for hire and on the ground floor is a cafe and display area.

On the upper floor you can see the early roof beams and there are tables for school activities.  On the wall at the far end of the upper floor is a marvellous quilt.

Called A History of Dronfield in a Quilt it is one of three made by local quilters who used digital archives of the town's history as inspiration.

The one above is the medieval quilt which has been made to look like a stained glass window.  It features all aspect of life in the middle ages including quotes from the Domesday book.  Volunteers are also working on a herb garden and in the grounds are managing trees and creating paths and wildflower areas.  I'd like to go back again in the spring or early summer to see what progress has been made.

After we left Dronfield we popped over to nearby Chesterfield to meet up with my niece and joined with her to visit my sister who is now in a care home in the town. 

We stayed overnight in Chesterfield before moving on to visit more relatives in Mansfield the next day.  Firstly though, after breakfast,  we popped into the Parish Church of St Mary and All Saints which is, of course, known as the Crooked Spire.  I will write a post on this visit later.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Five on Friday

Can you believe that it is Friday again?  Where has that time gone? We've spent it shopping, queueing in the post office, cleaning, visiting friends and relatives and delivering presents to go under trees. We also managed a couple of walks down the towpath of the local Trent and Mersey canal and at Ilam.  I'll maybe write a post about Ilam later but this week's Five on Friday reflects our walk by the canal.

1.  Winter Trees

Dark, sculptural 
and so beautiful at this time of year.

The third one full of pigeons (rock doves rather than wood pigeons)

2.  Geese on and round Westport Lake, lots of geese but this one was my favourite!

3.  Old Man's Beard growing in the hedgerows along the canal towpath 

A few weeks ago we had a crossword clue for 'another name for wild clematis' the answer to which turned out to be Old Man's Beard.  According to references it is also known as Traveller's Joy.  In France it is known as the beggar's or rascal's herb.  There was quite a lot of it growing in the hedges, opposite the Middleport Pottery, which separate the canal from the allotments.  We got chatting to a man walking along there who said that the allotments were on the former site of Port Vale football club before it moved to its present site.

4.   Old Factory Buildings from the canal towpath

Lovely old buildings, icons of the city's industrial past

 5.  Displays in the factory shop

I always love the displays in the shop and seeing what new patterns and designs they have.

Click on the link below to find others joining in with Five on Friday.  Thanks to Amy at Love Made my Home for hosting us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A 17th Century Farmhouse

In the Smallthorne area of Stoke-on-Trent stands one of the oldest buildings in the city.

 Ford Green Hall is a 17th century timber framed farmhouse which was, when we first came to live in the city, one of the museums belonging to Stoke City Council.

 It is now one of two city Museums that were transferred to charitable organisations and is run by volunteers whilst still working closely with the City Council's  Museum service.

 The farmhouse was built in 1624 for Hugh Ford who was a yeoman dairy farmer of 36 acres of land.  The brick additions were added in the 18th century.  The Ford family lived in the farmhouse for about 200 years.  When they finally left in the 19th century the building went into decline and was made into three and then four cottages.

 At the back of the hall is an award winning herb garden with raised beds full of herbs for different uses within the household. 

Above are herbs for magical and textile uses there are also beds for herbs for medicinal, cosmetic, domestic and culinary activities.

The Green Man was on hand to help organise the festivities.....
(Paul's photo of the Green man)

......shall we go inside?

That's better! It's much warmer in here with candles, and lanterns and open fires.

A choir are singing carols in front of the fireplace in the main hall (I didn't take a photo as children were involved.)

and there is a table laden with festive fayre.

 In the parlour the ladies tell us all about Christmas traditions of the 17th century and other ages too.

 The kitchen too is full of festive food and greenery.

The scent of orange, cinnamon and cloves spreads through the house from the pomander making class upstairs in the parlour chamber.

It's too busy to take a snooze in the hall chamber

So we wander back downstairs to take another look before we leave via the little cafe and shop.....

.....and back out into the cold, December afternoon.