Silent Sunday…. So off to Church


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.

5th August

(C) David Oakes 2018



The Cotswolds…. A Country House



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


3rd July

(C) David Oakes 2018


Silent Sunday….. So off to Church

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Brecon Cathedral, Powys, Wales

The small but important Welsh Market Town of Brecon (pop approx. 8500), lying in the shadows of the Brecon Beacons, supports a very much wider agricultural community in this part of rural Powys.

Since 1920 it has also been the home of Brecon Cathedral.

The Cathedral is on an enclosed circular hill, so is quite peaceful and secluded in its own grounds.  There has of course been a church on this location for many centuries.  The original church of Saint John, a Norman construction was built in 1093.  It is also thought to have been built on the site of a much earlier Celtic Church.  St. Johns was rebuilt in the gothic style in 1215, also blessed with a new name of Holy Rood (Holy Cross) but for many centuries it suffered troubles.  The Dissolution of the Monasteries was of course the worst.

However despite it many troubles the church was renovated and eventually made the Cathedral we see today.

I described the Cathedral as peaceful and there is no better place to feel that peace than to stand in the centre of the Nave with its stone pillars and arched ceilings

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The Nave, Brecon Cathedral

27th May

(C) David Oakes 2018


Wordless Wednesday….Another Favourite Place


Location:- Hamburg, Germany.

A City that in an exciting and skilful way has blended the old with the new, culture with history and manages to blend the newest commercial skills with the traditional Maritime Heritage… very much a thriving City of many contrasts


21st March

(C) David Oakes 2018

Calm…before the Beast from the East arrives


Blue sky, not a cloud to be seen this Sunday.  A warm glow to the early morning sun…but an oh! so cold breeze adding an extra chill factor to an already cold day.  The forecast is that this week is going to get a whole lot colder with heavy snow in some places, all thanks to what they are calling the Beast from the East.

Determined to make the most of what could be the best day for sometime we headed off to the woods at Calke Abbey.  The sun tried its best to take away the chill and as the  day progressed that early mornings warm glow vanished to be replaces by a cold stark light with long shadows. Yep….it was a February light through the woods….


The estate buildings around Calke Abbey consists of traditional Red Brick buildings and on this sunny February morning caught the glow of the sun.


Holme Farm typical of the of those across the estate.

But it is the Stable Block that always acts as a magnet for me.  It has style, yet is still functional, it was also the focal point for much of the estates daily activities. Standing empty today it is far from a ghostly shell but a powerful reminder of days gone bye when horsepower really meant Horse Power….





Just two little asides to Calke Estate.  

Full marks for providing some of the best Rest Rooms around…even the Gentlemen’s Rest Room is graced with seasonal flowers from the estate….


They also provide a great Children’s Play area, swings, slides and climbing frame. But it is the remains, the skeleton of an old tree that always proves to be the preferred Play Area…the best climbing frame by far.  Surprisingly today it had no adventurers…


And don’t ask me what that metal contraption attached to the top is all about……I don’t know and there is nothing to tell us what this ‘piece of art’ represents. As Rolls Royce Aero Engine are built not that far away it has been suggested that it represents the shape of an engine…..odd, but no doubt someone’s pride of achievement.

A great sunny day…we will see what the week brings.

26th February

(C) David Oakes 2018