Silent Sunday…..So Off to Church


The church of Saint John in the village of Horningsham, Wiltshire on the edge of the Longleat Estate and adjacent to the appropriately named Heavens Gate.

Saint John’s is the idyllic English Church, set on a hill overlooking a very peaceful rural scene that has changed little since the church was built in the 12th century. Like most churches of its age it has passed thru phases of renovation, modification, extension and rebuilding, the last rebuild being in 1843.

20th August

(C) David Oakes 2017


Sunday…So Off to Church and an explore of an Old Estate



Calke Abbey

Last week I took you on a tour of the old walled Gardens at Calke and did promise a further look at this Old Derbyshire Family Estate that since 1622 belonged to  the Harpur Crewe family and their ancestors.

So as it is a Sunday we will start out tour at the family church of St. Giles.  Situated on a rise overlooking the house it is reached along a tree lined walk.. a brisk walk on any Sunday the family and Staff.



The Calke Estate passed to the National Trust in 1985 after the sudden death of Charles Harpur Crewe to help cover Death Duties.

But the family left quite a legacy.  For several Centuries Calke Estate was a virtual self sufficient estate with many employees.  There were several Farms (still working today), Expansive Stables, and all the accompanying workshops of Blacksmith, Harness and Tack rooms, Fire Station  Butcher, Baker and of course the Gardening staff, for a garden that had to be very food productive.

Calke Abbey is placed central to an extensive Park Land.  Deer once roamed freely they even had their own Deer Shelter, now a ruin….today the Deer are in a fenced enclosure.  The whole park land is a wonderful woodland full of ancient Oak Trees plus specimen Beech.  A place to explore across all the seasons…





The Old Man of Calke

(above right)

Just one of the oldest Oak trees still standing over 1000 years…what a story it can tell of the comings and goings at Calke, Derbyshire

Calke Pan 2



9th July

(C) David Oakes 2017

Silent Sunday…. So Off to Church


Saint Margaret’s Church, Cley next the Sea, Norfolk

St. Margaret’s is the Parish Church of the village of Cley next the Sea.  Once Cley was next the sea and a busy port for Norfolk, important for the agricultural in the surround county.  Today Cley overlooks the silted up river and the encroaching salt marshes… ships to see these days.

Like many of the churches in Norfolk and Suffolk it is a deliberately large building. Each village of consequence using its church as a symbol of its wealth. That wealth came from sheep (wool) and other agricultural activities from this fertile area of England.


St. Margaret’s dates back to 1320.  The massive outer doorway was added much later and adds to the already complex design of the architecture….and of course gives added stature.  Externally you can also see what remains of the now derelict north and south transepts…ruins they may be but they add some extra character to the church.  Ornate as the outside is the interior is very plain and simple, perhaps the wooden roof adding the most interest to the nave.


Construction is a mix of stone and of course Norfolk’s famous flint, ideal for surround walls and paths.

21st May

(C) David Oakes 2017

Sunday…So Off to Church. As its Easter its a Special Church


Hereford Cathedral, Herefordshire

Standing proud on the banks of the River Wye, Hereford Cathedral perhaps looks it best in the early spring light, with Weeping Willow and Daffodils gracing the gardens that surround the Cathedral.  It is a magical Cathedral, not the largest of British Cathedrals, however its layout and architecture lends much added character.

Of course like most Cathedrals early life was of a more humble Church.  Dating back to the 670’s and possibly earlier the Church was dedicated to two Saints.  Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint Ethelbert the King.  Ethelbert was beheaded in 792 on the whim of Offa, King of Mercia.  There is a tomb to Ethelbert in the Cathedral.

It has to be said that after that  Hereford Cathedral had both a violent part to play in history and was also subject to a great deal of rebuilding, extending and alteration. Being so close to the Welsh Border and Welsh Marches it did get caught up in the cross border conflicts and was burnt down by Welsh and Irish Forces.  Reconstruction started in 1079, with major adaption in 1409 and at frequent intervals over the centuries that followed.


The Lady Chapel

Today the Cathedral is always busy with visitors. Despite these numbers, many would find todays very real tranquillity within these high walls, a dramatic contrast to its turbulent history.


West Doorway

Herford Cathedral is also the home of the famous and unique Mappa Mundi.  Dating to the 1300’s this early map is a representation of the world as imagined. Information gleaned from ecclesiastic travellers and others.  Surprisingly places that supposedly were not know of at that time are represented on the map and even more surprising in reasonably accurate locations. A definite Bucket List addition.

As I cannot show you any images of this treasure you may find this link useful:-

16th April

(C) David Oakes 2017