One Lucky Lady…
She sure was…..she had just been awarded “Supreme Champion” in the Shire Horse Championships, here in Derbyshire. Very appropriately named Kilmore Lady Luck. Both horse and owner obviously well pleased with their success.
Not that luck came into the equation. Just lots of hard work and patience over time by all the Horses and Owners competing. It is hard to conceive that this giants of the horse world can be both some powerful yet so placid. Once the backbone of the agriculture, haulage and military arenas, thanks to some dedicated breeders and owners the Shire Horse Breed continues to have a place in our British countryside to-day.
Even nicer for them to make the big effort to bring the Horses young and old along for us to see and enjoy
(C) David Oakes 2018
A Very Silent Church
On the Isle of Skye in Strath Suardal you can find the skeleton of this old Scottish Kirk. Know as Cill Chriosd (Christ’s Church). Dating back to some time before 1505 when the first written reference to the church was found,Cill Chriosd replaces a 7th century church for the Parish of Ashaig which was founded by St. Maol Ruadh.
Open roofed,and whilst some preservation has occurred,it is today a ruin. Nor is this unusual in the Scottish Highlands. The ruins of old churches are testament to a time when the Highlands prior to the clearances were more heavily populated with Parishes scattered across what is now bare landscapes. It does help paint a picture of those days when crofting, whilst hard, was a tradition.
There is a reason why so many of these ruined, and often roofless, churches are still standing…often in a walled or fenced surround is important.
These surrounds are more often than not graveyards, still with marker stones, these themselves showing there age. Important Graveyards are one of the Clan Traditions requiring the provision of Clan Burial Grounds. Here at Cill Chriosd it is for the Mackinnon’s of Strath.
As you travel across the Highlands, however remote you are sure to come across similar ruins. Far too many to stop and examine each and everyone but well worth the time spent on those that really catch your eye.
Cill Chriosd was replaced in 1804 by a new Church at Broadford. So the Congregation moved….but Cill Chriosd like many other old churches across the Highlands still take care of there long gone Parishioners.
(C) David Oakes 2018
Standing tall behind the Quay of this Ancient market town of Wareham is the Parish Church of Lady Saint Mary. Its tower has dominated the surrounding skyline for many centuries acting not just as a marker for the town across the surrounding marshes but for shipping from Pool Harbour approaching the town via the River Frome.
Probably like all churches that we see today its location was probably dictated by the use of the site by early religious groups for worship. Lady St. Mary was built St. Aldhelm in 705ad the then Bishop of Sherborne in what was known as the Kingdom of Wessex. It was an Anglo Saxon construction with the tower being added later in 1500 and occasional increased in height.
The Nave looking East to the Chancel
As you enter Lady St. Mary you are struck by both the height and bright modern style of the interior. Wooden beams, solid supporting pillars and arches and a dominant East Window. It is relatively modern…. the main body of the church and roof were reconstructed in 1840’s. Not really surprising as like most religious buildings it has been involved in turmoil and war over the many centuries since it was founded back in 705. Invading Danes completely destroyed the church in 876 and Civil Wars and other incursions left there marks. (It is a wonder any of our historic churches are still standing) Despite all the rebuilding’s and repairs it is still much the Anglo Saxon Style.
The Chancel is the on its own both colourful and dominant. The East window was constructed in the 1300’s and the Coloured glazing added in 1886. The Organ Pipes add another dimension. Next to the Chancel on the south side you drop down some steps to the small St. Edwards Chapel one of the oldest parts of the Church still much as it was, dating back to 1100’s a dedicated place for quiet reflection and prayer.
The Church also has a proud boast in so much as its Church Bells have been rung to mark just about every major event in the History of the UK.
The history of Wareham matches that of Lady St. Mary’s. Looking at the Quay which is the draw for todays Tourists with its waterside Pub and Tea Rooms, river trips up and down the River Frome it conveys a very different picture than its past importance. The fact that the Quayside Pub was once a Granary is perhaps one clue. In fact the River Frome and its direct link, across the surrounding marshes, to Poole Harbour made this a major Port of Dorset, trading across the maritime world and centre of trading commerce. Wareham was strategically located on some of the only higher dry ground above the marshes and between the two rivers of Frome and Piddle that flow on each side to the town.
Today it is still a busy market town, full of interest for any tourist… and to emphasis the national importance to the country in times past, Wareham has been the home of two Royal Mints.
Next Sunday we will travel to another ancient Dorset Religious location with links to Lady St. Mary.
(C) David Oakes 2018
A Spectacular Dorset Castle
We had a lazy start to Sunday…. Coffee, a good book and some welcome shade just to sit and read…well we are on holiday. But the afternoon was for some exploration of a part of Dorset’s Heritage.
So it was the Village of Corfe Castle, and of course, its distinctive and spectacular castle of the same name, our destination. Both the Village and the Castle are built of the distinctive Purbeck Stone… always light and bright, but in this afternoons blistering sun, reflecting as if it was a true white.
Its History is long and chequered so you are best dong an internet search for comprehensive information…so here is the brief vision.
In 1086 William the Conqueror did a swap. A Church for this land on which he built Corfe Castle. It was very much a defensive castle with Outer Baily and Gatehouse then an inner Baily and Gatehouse..being situated on the hill it was a position of strength and provide extensive views over all it surrounded. It must have been a strong fortification as it withstood several sieges. It was though during two sieges in the Civil War of 1643 -1646 that Corfe Castle fell to the Parliamentary Forces…but only through an act of treachery from inside the castle. After this Castle was partially demolished by order of Parliament, stone was robbed to build elsewhere. The Castle and surrounds continued to remain in the hands of the Banks Family and did so for more than 3 more centuries. It is now in the hands of the National Trust.
So here is a mini tour…
An interesting and relaxing afternoons exploring. Then a leisurely drive back to where our caravan is currently located for yet another glorious summers evening..
Dusk over Kimmeridge Bay
(C) David Oakes 2018
Chedworth Roman Villa
The Cotswold is real Farming Country, flowing estates of arable crops dotted with sheep and cattle. But it has also become the mecca of ” Second Homes” ..the must be location for Celebrities, Broadcasters, Bankers and Politicians rich enough to climb the social ladder.
But this is nothing new. The Romans started the fashion of second homes just like here at Chedworth, a particularly large Roman Villa.
A chance discovery of floor tiles…. “tesserae” in 1864, together with a substantial amount of money and time by Lord Eldon resulted in the excavation of the foundations of a this large villa complex. There are some mosaic floors (now well protected from the weather), Bath Houses, living and entertaining quarters for the Roman Noble, his family and of course his supporting staff. Life was luxurious compared with the ‘Brits’ of the forth century. Underfloor heating…hypocaust in the main villa and bath houses helped.
Why build here. well its surrounded by trees in a wooded valley but perhaps it was the natural spring which the Romans revered as a Nymphaeum and a place to be worshiped.
Now before well explore the site let me explain. The Villa that is rather Tudor like only dates back to the late 1800’s. It was built by Eldon to house artefacts discovered during the excavations and today it is still a museum.
A chance find beneath these English meadows and an insight into 4th century Roman Life…. and proving there is nothing new in life
(C) David Oakes 2018