30 May 2015

A walk by the River Kennet

What I enjoy most about going back down to my home county of Berkshire and adjoining counties is the opportunity to spend time by the waters of the Thames and Kennet and that is what I was able to do this month often accompanied by different members of my family who still live there.

An old school friend and her family used to live in the above pub which has been  restored rebuilt (*see Amy's comment below) since those days. It was interesting to go back there as the attraction for me was the walk along the tow path by the River Kennet, which is part of the Kennet and Avon Canal or the Kennet Navigation as it's known on this stretch of the waterway, before we had our lunch.

ragged robin and wood forget-me-not

bugle right) on the left is ladies smock also called  
milk maids

Burghfield Bridge in the Kennet Valley, which is south-west of Reading town centre. On an old map of 1790 the area is shown as 'World's End'!

Crossing the nearby Bath and Bristol main road is 'Honey End' where my old high school is located. It was a girls' school (now amalgamated with a boys' school) and at the time students travelled from every district of Reading to attend it. I lived east of the town and caught two buses to get there.

The waters of the Kennet join the River Thames at Reading and run through the Kennet Valley south-westward to towns such as Newbury and beyond as far as Bristol as the canal meets up with the Avon.

28 May 2015

Scavenger Hunt: May

Here are my Scavenger Hunt photos for May.  Thank you Greenthumb (Jill) from Made with Love blog for organising the challenge. You can find out more if you click the coded link for Scavenger Hunt on my side bar.

The list for May:
blue, crystal, vintage, fluff, global, mask, bus, frame, collection, poster, ribbon, whatever you want


crystal      -       

vintage      -      a 1930s 'Blue Bird Toffee Company' toffee and chocolate sweet tin

fluff  -  difficult to find in our house (ha ha)!

global   -    This sundial (1775) on the wall of the parish church in Eyam, Derbyshire, enables one to calculate the time of day in places around the world.


bus  -   The buses in my home town are a different colour for each district. (I've spent some time there this month of May). 

frame    -    (portrait of my Grandpa William)

collection     -    a stamp collection that I started in the 1950s

poster    -      posters of some of the theatre productions that our thirteen-year-old grandson no. 4 has been involved in during the past few years

ribbon       -        photos of me (aged about 5 and 9 years)

                   -      detail on a statue of Queen Victoria, Reading, Berkshire, (UK)

whatever you want     -      rhododendrons in a local park

and finally....

a collage of a few birthday moments with family which I'll write about more fully now that I'm back from a holiday in Berkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.

13 May 2015

A visit to Eyam, Derbyshire

After our walk around Stoney Middleton, Derbyshire we went on to Eyam for the second time. (These photographs are from both visits when the weather was very different on each occasion). Although Eyam is well-known for being 'the plague village' where the villagers voluntarily lived in isolation so that the plague did not spread, there's much more of interest to see that I will share another time.
However, for now I shall concentrate on the story of when the plague came to the village.

Around the village there are many reminders of this terrible time in Eyam's history.

                                  A memorial window in the Parish Church of St. Lawrence.

William Mompesson was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire. He was appointed rector of Eyam by his patron Sir George Savile of Rufford Park and he took up his living in 1664. In the Summer of 1665 the bubonic plague that had unknowingly been brought into the village from London through the transportation of a bale of flea-infested cloth began claiming lives. As the situation got worse a meeting was called by Mompesson and another minister, Thomas Stanley. It was decided that church services would be held in the open air, villagers would be buried as quickly as possible where they had died without the usual church ceremony to prevent further spread of the sickness in the village and all those still alive would not go out from the confines of the village for fear of carrying the infection to neighbouring communities.

                                         The two ministers meet to discuss the situation.

The window shows the well and a group of family graves that were situated
 outside the village. Villagers from outlying
villages such as Stoney Middleton would leave food for the folk in Eyam
in certain places near the parish boundary. 

One sad story is that of Emmot Sydall and Rowland Torre.  Emmott was betrothed to Rowland who lived in Stoney Middleton.  During the winter he made a journey each day to see her to make sure all was well. They saw one another from afar at the boundary between the two villages. One day Emmot did not arrive.  When the village was pronounced safe Rowland was the first to enter only to find that she had died in the April shortly after their last meeting.

William Mompesson survived the plague although his wife, Catherine, died in August 1666. Her tomb can be seen in the churchyard. It is the only known grave of a plague victim in the churchyard as a special exception was made to allow her body to be interred there as burials had recently ceased in the grounds. Eventually William remarried and was transferred to another parish where he continued to live simply until his death in 1708 not wishing to receive special acknowledgement for his role in planning a strategy to stop the plague spreading outside the village. 

pages from a copy of the register of deaths that can be seen in the church
especially designed and illuminated (1951)

The Parish Church of St. Lawrence

Catherine Mompesson's table tomb grave. 
 The lady in the background was one of the visitors
 whose ancestors were known individuals living in Eyam during the time of the plague.

a bed of herbs that are well-known for their aroma and medicinal properties 

These are the cottages near the church, but the information boards are on 
the majority of the buildings in the village and this sadly reminds the visitor the extent to which
 so many households in the village were struck down by the plague.

Here is the school and entrance gate on which there is the well-known playground 
nursery rhyme that we used to sing as little children, acting out the words.
  We wouldn't have realised they actually refer to the plague.

Ring a ring a roses, 
a pocket full of posies,
atishoo, atishoo,
we all fall down.

  Some cottage gardens in the village.

On our second visit to the area there was sunshine and blue skies. The countryside to the west of Eyam is different from the rugged terrain to the south of the village. There are woods, gorse-covered hills and pastureland.