Silent Sunday….. A Church in Hiding

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St. Bartholomew’s Church, Blore, Staffordshire

Hiding away behind a stand of trees, high on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands can be found this very old, rugged, yet very beautiful historic Church dedicated to St. Bartholomew. It has served the hamlet of Blore and the Lord of the Manor who lived in Blore Hall since 1100ad.  I did say hiding away, I guess many who travel this way pass by, unaware of this treasure that lies down a narrow lane and behind the trees.

It is suggested that whilst the main body of the church does date to  circa 1100 it is possible that it stands on a site of a much earlier place of religious significance.  That wouldn’t be very surprising, so many of our Churches and Cathedrals occupy ground or buildings that had previous religious connections.

Over time, what was once a simple building has been enlarged and features added. These changes always seem more obvious from the outside, different heights, widths and protrusions mark these changes.  Then as you pass through the Norman Porch and enter the church it all seems much more complete.

A simple altar backed by a tall stained glass window..  All separated from the nave by a a unique 16th century oak carved screen.. The stone font stands by the entrance, as was the custom.  A simple but grand interior.

For many centuries Bartholomew’s was supported by the Lord’s of the Manor, The Bassett Family, who as mentioned, lived in nearby Blore Hall.  It was the Bassett family, who in the 16th century, had the traditional hard Oak pews installed.  Prior to that, as was the custom of the time, the congregation all stood together.  Then in the 17th century the box pews to the right of the nave were installed…. for the use, no doubt of the family, and others who could pay a so called “Box Fee”

To the left of the nave in what was once the Lady Chapel, behind another carved wood screen, can be found the very magnificent Bassett Tomb.  Carved from alabaster, this is grand indeed.  It importance as significant work of art, is underlined by the interest that the Ruskin, Morris and Carlyle observed.  In 1876 they were instrumental in founding the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.  which was followed by the creation of the Ancient Monuments Act.  The Bassett Tomb was one of the first monuments to be repaired.

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There is an inscription on the tomb that notes the importance of the Bassett Family for their loyalty, from the times of the Norman Conquest.  Today they remain and important royal link with a family tree that runs directly back(or forwards) from our Royal Family of the 21st century.

An important historical link…. rather surprising for this modest moorland church…

Where ever you are today and whatever you  doing…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

25th July

(C) David Oakes 2021

A Day in the Garden…..

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Dorothy Clive Gardens, Staffordshire

Not our own garden, but one that we have visited regularly over the years.   Our Covid restrictions have eased a little (not sure for how long) so we took advantage of the sunny weather and headed across to Staffordshire, close to the Cheshire and Shropshire borders.  We knew that it would be a safe environment.  It is just a little remote and there is plenty of space, so little chance of any overcrowding.

Dorothy Clive Gardens are a rather special mix.  We think they are at their best in the spring / early summer.  Rhododendron and Azalea blend with Herbaceous borders and spectacular Laburnums….. all surround by some magnificent woodlands.  Lots of dark dells, spacious lawns and borders, and Alpine bank.  In past years the variety seems to merge seamlessly into each other.  I have made mention before that this Spring and now early Summer, have not been following the usual cyclical time scale. This season time spread is evident here.  The Alpines, normally full of colour are yet to show in any meaningful way.  Rhododendron are dropping petals like confetti and the herbaceous borders, at this moment are dominated by Alliums. The good news is that everything is a lush green with a promise of much to come….. and still lots to enjoy today

So join us for a walk round the gardens..   

The bonus is a rather nice Tea Room.. So we enjoyed our first Cream Tea for over 18 months.  Rather nice, but being honest, the disposable Covid cutlery, plates and cups rather take the edge, indeed the magic, off the English Tradition of Afternoon Tea in sunny garden. Still yummy, but miss the china – but paper will have to do!

Still a great sunny summers day out…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

10th June

(C) David Oakes 2021

Silent Sunday…… Three Spires

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Litchfield Cathedral, Staffordshire

The threes Spires of Litchfield Cathedral make for a dominant landmark on the horizon.  The central Spire is 253ft high whilst the twin spires are a mere 190ft .

The full name for this medieval Cathedral is Saint Chad and Saint Mary.  Its history dates back to 669AD when Saint Chad founded the first building.  It was a wooden structure.  This was replaced by a Norman style building in 1085, and then again 1in 1195 in the Gothic style.

Inside the Cathedral you do enter a peaceful world…..  but history also tells us that this was not always so.  The Cathedral took the full force of aggression against it in the English Civil Wars. 

Today it is once again a very different world that surrounds this dramatic building.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

25th April

(C) David Oakes 2021

Spring slowly comes to Dovedale…..

Deep in the limestone valley known as Dovedale, the sun has yet to search out the new growth of spring. The River Dove spills gently over the stones, its crystal clear waters providing a home for a few Brown Trout…. after all this is the River Dove of Izaak Walton’s, book The Compleat Angler (1653) fame.

I could tell you that Dovedale is in Derbyshire….or I could say it was in Staffordshire.  Both would be correct as the River Dove marks the boundary between the two counties.  The picture on the left with the limestone tower of Pickering Tor high above the Dove, is taken from the Staffordshire bank of the river. The other image with the crystal clear waters of the Dove flowing below Ravens Tor is shot from the Derbyshire bank. 

Wherever you are in this world…..

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

20th April

(C) David Oakes 2021

 

Silent Sunday……. Spring comes to a Church at Ilam

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Church of the Holy Cross, Ilam, Staffordshire

The village Church at Ilam hides behind the village of the same name, in the valley below Bunster Hill and Dove Dale.  Its distinctive ‘Saddleback’ Bell Tower, whilst not unique  in church architecture, still adds a touch of style to this 17th century church.  It is, as with many old religious buildings, believed that is was built on an religious location used as early as the Saxon times.  Restoration and additions where made in the 1800’s. 

My best description would be ‘small but beautiful’ both inside and out.  So pop in and take a look…

Holy Cross, Ilam, is perhaps at it’s best, on a sunny spring morning, just as the early mist and dew rises to reveal it nestling behind a ring of trees with Bunster Hill as its backdrop.

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Wherever you are this Spring Sunday…..

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

18th April

(C) David Oakes 2021