Friday, July 28, 2017

The Parish Church of St James, Bonsall, Derbyshire

As promised in my last but one post I'm returning to the lovely, historic village of Bonsall to take you inside the parish church.  I've saved this post until now especially for Church Tourism Week.  This is organised by The Churches Conservation Trust, although this isn't one of the churches in its care, I thought it was an apt time to record my visit.

After our lunch at The Fountain Tea shop (see my post on Bonsall Village)  we walked up to the church.  I hadn't expected it to be open but it was.  Unfortunately I'd left my bridge camera in the back of the car but I had my little Cannon Power Shot camera in my bag so I was able to take a few photos.

There wasn't a guide book or leaflet inside the church so I took photos of the things I'd noticed realising that I'd probably miss something important along the way.  I've since been 'googling' to find out more about the church and the various things I'd recorded.

The most obvious and fascinating aspect of the church was the difference of the floor height  between  the nave and chancel.  A few steps up from Nave to Chancel are expected but in this church there are seven.  The bottom and top ones are thinner than the others.

From reading various blogs and reports it seems that the level of the  nave floor was dropped in the 14th century and this may explain the extra steps up into the Chancel and the rather large column bases in the nave.  This has given the church the honour of being known to have what is possibly the highest Chancel in the country.
On the base of one of the columns is a strange carving which some sources say might have been underground until the floor level was dropped.  It is known locally as the Bonsall Imp or the Little Devil although it has also been described as a cross between a frog and a unicorn.  .

I can see from the one horn on the head and the webbed looking feet where this idea of the image came from.

 At the top of the North aisle a modern glass mobile hangs in front of the window reflecting the colours of the stained glass.

There were some interesting wall monuments to the great and good of the village.  The large one oval one on the wall is a memorial to a man called Henry Ferne who died in 1723 having served as Receiver General of the Customs during the reigns King William III, Queen Anne and King George I.

The font is probably from the late 12th or early 13th century.

The unusual stone above is in the South aisle and is a bull baiting stone.  It was brought into the church by a former Rector who was so upset by the idea of bull baiting that he had the stone removed from the market place into the church.  Animal baiting was finally made unlawful twenty years later in 1835.

Above is one of the two Medieval stone grave  slabs that stand either side of the alter in the South aisle, not far from the bull baiting stone.  The other was behind a banner and couldn't be photographed easily although it was thicker and slightly more elaborate than this one.  They were moved out of the church during the restoration of 1863 and ended up in a churchwarden's garden.

The churchyard was full of both wild and garden flowers which look lovely against the grey weather worn stones.

I'm experiencing great difficulty with internet speed at the moment and we are not sure what the problem is.  I can count to twenty or sometimes even thirty before getting on line then the time to move between sites is about the same, reading and commenting on blogs takes ages as pages keep jumping about and scrolling up and down takes ages as the screen seems to freeze.  It has taken me two or three days to complete this post so I may have to take a break for a while until the problem is solved.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dinosaurs of China - Part Two

I covered part one of our visit to this exhibition in my Five on Friday post on 7th July - link here.  The main part of this exhibition is at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham but there is a second smaller exhibition at the Djanogly Centre which is part of Lakeside Arts on the University Campus.  We had booked tickets to hear a talk given by Pterosaur expert  Dr Mark Witton of Portsmouth University.  It was a free lunchtime talk called 'Not your Father's Pterosaurs: How Scientists are Reinterpreting Mesozoic Flying Reptiles' although it sounds rather specialist and dry and given that I'm not the Pterosaur expert of the two of us I actually found it quite fascinating and Mark Witton an excellent and engaging speaker.

We set out from home to drive to Beeston where we parked and caught the tram to the University.  The journey only took about ten minutes and I was able to use my bus pass by just registering it at a little swipe machine.  

The trams in Nottingham are each dedicated to a famous person from or who has deep connections with the County of Nottinghamshire.  Thus you will spot passing by trams with such names as  Brian Clough, D H Lawrence, Lord Byron, Torvil and Dean, Jesse Boot, William Booth, Alan Sillitoe, Ada Lovelace and many more not forgetting Robin Hood of course.  I didn't notice which tram we travelled down to the University on but we came back on Vicky McClure and spotted Rebecca Adlington going the opposite way at the tram stop.

The exhibition was in the smaller gallery at the Djanogly Centre.  We had a good look around.

Plenty of space to sit and wander around in this part of the exhibition which concentrated on Palaeo-art or bringing Dinosaurs to life.  It looked at the ways artist and scientists have illustrated and depicted the remains they have found.

Alxasaurus a feathered vegetarian descended from meat eaters.  Early Cretaceous it was found in Inner Mongolia, norther China. and could grow up to about 4 metres long.

Dilophosaurus sinensis - has hollow bones like birds.  A carnivore it is from the Early Jurassic and was found in Yunnan Province in China. Size 4 metres long or the size of a mini car.
After looking at this exhibition we moved on to the main Summer exhibition at the centre.  In complete contrast this exhibition was entitled Kaleidoscope: Colour and Sequence in 1960s British Art.   

Photos were not allowed in many areas of this exhibition so I've included a photo from the 'What's On' leaflet I picked up.  It was a fascinating display of bold shapes and bright colours.

After coffee and what was labelled a date and walnut scone but which after slicing in half and buttering appeared to contain only apricots we strolled out to the lake and walked a little way along the lakeside path watching new graduates with their proud families having their photos taken with the lake as a backdrop. 

It was time to take our seats in the small theatre at the back of the Lakeside building pictured below.
The talk started with screen shots of how artists and film directors had depicted Pterosaurs in the past and how different today's thoughts on both appearance and lifestyle had changed.  The talk lasted about 40 minutes and there were lots of questions afterwards.

We emerged from the cool dark theatre into hot, bright sunshine and made our way back to the nearby tram stop to catch a tram back to Beeston where we picked up our very hot car and began what proved to be a very uncomfortable and sticky drive home.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The village of Bonsall in Derbyshire

The pretty village of Bonsall lies on and around a hill just off the Via Gellia (the A5012) which runs from Cromford until it meets the A515 Buxton to Ashbourne road. Various sources say that the Via Gellia was probably named for or by Phillip Eyre Gell who had the road built through the valley around 1790 so that he could move lead from his lead mines down to a new smelting works at Cromford.  Other sources say that the road was there much earlier in the 1720s and was used as a route for transporting stone from the Gell family's quarries at nearby Hopton.  The area was noted for its cotton mills and the name of Viyella fabric (a mixture of wool and cotton) is said to come from from the Via Gellia valley.

Anyway, back to the historic former lead mining village of Bonsall.   We parked near the Cascades Gardens and wandered through the recreation ground to our first port of call.

Priorities right and first things first - lunch! 

At the Fountain Tea Rooms which is
opposite the village fountain.  The Fountain also provides B&B accommodation.

  The fountain is Victorian Gothic in design  and was restored by the Parish Council in 1993.

After lunch we took a steep climb up the public footpath to the parish church which sits high on its hill overlooking the village.

The Parish Church of St James was built in the 13th century in a
prominent position over looking the village. Much of the exterior  was rebuilt in 1862.  Inside it has what is thought to be the highest chancel in the country as there are seven steps up to the chancel from the nave.  Hiding in the church is also what is known as the 'Bonsall Imp'.  We'll explore inside in a later post.

The Market Cross is a Grade II listed building and is thought to date from the 17th century although some parts could be earlier.  It apparently has 13 steps, I didn't count them.  The ball on top was added in 1671 about the time the village asked to be allowed a market charter but their application was never granted.

One of the village wells.  The village holds a 'well dressing' festival and carnival at the end of July.

A framework knitters cottage at the start of the Limestone Way.

The 'T'owd Man of Bonsall' is thought to depict a lead miner and it is also probably one of the earliest ever illustrations of a miner.  The original carving was in the village church but it is now found embedded in the wall at St Mary's Wirkswirth  (link to my post on St Mary's Church - here)
Another view of the Market Cross with the 17th century King's Head pub behind it.

We had come to the village to visit the Cascades gardens and nursery.  This a a four acre garden in the centre of the village which takes advantage of the natural landscape. Like The Fountain it also has B&B accommodation.

I'll share more about the garden in a later post.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Soft, Gentle Rain

After what was a warm and quite humid weekend  this morning it was wonderful to go out in the cooler air and the fine rain.

Last night it was so hot and airless, by 1a.m. we were up again, too hot to sleep, watching the full moon appearing from clouds to light up the still, early morning sky. 

We'd spent most of the weekend at home apart from a quick walk to the local shop to get milk and newspapers and a quick visit to the vets to get our elderly cat Max his latest medication.  He is 21 years old and has been diagnosed with hyper thyroid and by Friday he was so lethargic we really thought he was on his way out but after a couple of days of pills he seems livelier and actually went out into the garden on Sunday seeking cool, damp areas in which to snooze.

This morning we went up to the Emma Bridgewater factory shop for a treat of morning coffee and a shared brownie (they brought us two plates to the table) and then we went through to the walled garden which is behind the factory shop.  

It was gorgeous. The flowers and grasses were sparkling with delicate raindrops, making them look fresh and bright after a weekend of heat.

I've taken you into this garden before in other posts but each year it changes slightly and this year most of the plants were in galvanised steel containers which were planted full of gorgeous cottage garden flowers.

 One of the chickens and her chicks were pecking in the garden.

 The soft, muted colours of some of the flowers looked wonderful in the warm drizzle.

For a short while, time stood still.

 As we enjoyed being in the midst of such loveliness

So many ideas that you could adapt and achieve on a smaller scale for your own garden if you wished too.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Five on Friday - the Dinosaurs of China

On Wednesday we visited an exhibition we'd had tickets for since March.  It seemed a long time since we'd booked the visit but the day had finally arrived.  Our time slot was 11.30a.m

Our destination was Wollaton Hall in Nottingham where, according to the poster, it's all happening.  It was busy but not as busy as we thought it would be, outside marquees and refreshment facilities and extra portaloos were in place.  We parked easily under the trees, in the shade and were in plenty of time for our entry slot.

The exhibition is entitled  'Dinosaurs of China,  Ground Shakers to Feathered Flyers' and is a joint operation between China, Nottingham City Council and Nottingham University. It is, according to naturalist Chris Packham in his introduction to the exhibition, 'a once in a lifetime experience exhibiting dinosaur skeletons and fossils never before seen outside of Asia.'

The message as you head towards the exhibits is that 'you may never look at dinosaurs or birds  the same way again'  as they try to answer what they term 'a ticklish question'  the question being  'could birds be the relatives of long lost dinosaurs?'   Since our last visit earlier this year the layout of the galleries had been altered and many of the exhibitions put away so that the skeletons, fossils and illustrations could be housed.  The exhibition moves through three areas, dinosaurs that didn't have feathers, those that did and proto or early birds.  The conclusion, which apparently has been known for quite a few years now is that
'dinosaurs are not extinct, birds are dinosaurs'

As it is Friday I'm showing you five photos from the exhibition for no particular reason other than that they are the best of the ones I could manage as trying to take photos around other people and especially groups of school children was quite difficult as was the light from the windows in some of the galleries.

1.  Protoceratops - is described as a humble relative of the mighty Triceratops.  A herbivore its period is late Cretaceous and many have been found throughout northern China and Mongolia.  It would have been the size of sheep.

2. Mamenchisaurus - was a late Jurassic herbivore and was discovered in Sichuan Province, central China.  It is classed in this exhibition as a peaceful plant eating ground shaker.

3. Lufengosaurus - was the first dinosaur  discovered, studied and displayed by Chinese scientists.  Another herbivore found in Yunnan Province in South Western China its age is early Jurassic and it would have been about the size of a transit van.

4.  Oviraptor - about the size of an emu and possibly an omnivore.  When first found it was laid on a nest of dinosaur eggs and was thought to be an egg thief caught in the act.  That is what its name means.  Since it was found many other fossilised Oviraptors have been found sitting on nests.  Its age is late Cretaceous and examples have been found across Mongolia and northern China.

5.  Linheraptor - this was a complete skeleton found in rock and is known as Velociraptor's Big Brother.  It is thought to have had feathers like other raptors. It was a carnivore of the late Cretaceous period and was found in inner Mongolia in north west China.  It was thought to be about the size of a bicycle.

Some of the background illustrations in the exhibition were wonderful so I've chosen five to put in the collage above to show you.

Joining in with Tricky at F.A.S.T blog for this weeks Five on Friday.  Use the link below to visit his blog and find others who are taking part this week.