Friday, January 31, 2014

Ault Hucknall and Stainsby

A couple of weeks ago on our way back from a visit to Chesterfield we stopped off to photograph the church at the village of Ault Hucknall for Paul's one-name study website.  I think this is one of the few churches where both our family names can be found as the name Limb, Limm and Lymm - found on my mother's side of the family also seems to originate from here.  Whilst researching my ancestors over the years I've found clusters of the Limb (and variants) name in parish records from Ault Hucknall and Heanor in Derbyshire and Eastwood in Nottinghamshire. 

The village of Ault Hucknall, described in some places as the smallest village in England as it has only three dwelling places and the church,  is close to both Hardwick Hall and Stainsby Mill and isn't  far from the village where I grew up in fact the two churches were recently and perhaps still are served by the same vicar I think it is known as a dual benefice.

I was surprised that my photos turned out so well as it was getting quite dark in the gloom of a late winter's  afternoon. The whole parish of Ault Hucknall includes the nearby settlements of Hardstoft, Rowthorne, Astwith and Stainsby as well as some outlying farmsteads.

According to the Victoria County History some of the features of the church of St John the Baptist, which is Grade 1 listed, date back to the 11th century when ecclesiastical architecture was still very much influenced by Anglo-Saxon traditions.  As seen in the carvings above and below.

The church played an important part in the lives of all the people on the Hardwick Estate and some of them must have travelled quite a way to attend services there.  Not surprisingly the church was closed whilst we were there but inside is buried the philosopher and author of The Leviathan Thomas Hobbes who was in his younger days a tutor to the Cavendish family.

The gravestones in the churchyard were most interesting and I'd like to return and look at them and the inside of the church at a later date.  I thought the monument below look quite spooky in the half light.

I didn't spot any Limbs in the churchyard but I did see two on the War Memorial which stands just outside Stainsby Mill

We visited Stainsby Mill in April last year on a really cold day and I took a few photos which I never used on here.  It is of course owned by the National Trust and run by volunteers.

It stands on the Hardwick Estate and its interpretation inside is that of a 19th century water mill.

Although from my photos it looks as if there was no one else there in actual fact there were quite a few people inside where the volunteers were describing the various workings of the mill and grinding handfuls of flour for us to feel.

  The mill produces
wholegrain wheat flour and spelt flour.

We bought a bag of each to make bread with at home

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Books and Reading

I've decided to join in with The Year in Books blogging challenge organised by Laura at a Circle of Pine Trees.  I noticed this reading challenge on Kathy's Amanda's and Louise's blogs and thought that it sounded like a good idea.

I've read four books so far this month so I thought I'd share some of them with you and tell you more about one of them.  I will also continue to place the books I have read in my sidebar and list the whole year's books as separate pages at the top of the blog.

At the moment I have three books on loan from the local library, two of which I requested the third, the Secrets of Armstrong House, I saw on their 'quick choice' shelf near the check in/out machines and thought that it looked interesting.  

I'm still reading the A. O'Connor book but the other two I've read and thoroughly enjoyed.  I love the DI Vera Stanhope books by Ann Cleeves  Harbour Street is the latest and it didn't for one moment disappoint.  I found it intriguing, atmospheric and hard to put down.

January's Book

In contrast The Secret Rooms is non-fiction (but still very much a detective story) and is written by Catherine Bailey author of the equally interesting and readable book Black Diamonds.  The author went to Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire initially to research the lives of the men from the Belvoir Estate who volunteered to serve in the Midlands Regiments at the outbreak of WW1.  What she found and eventually wrote about was an intriguing mystery surrounding John, the 9th Duke of Rutland.  What was in those secret rooms?  Why had they been closed up for so many years?  Why had the 9th Duke elected to spend his final days in there destroying huge swathes of correspondence from three distinct periods of his life?  Follow the author as she gradually pieces together, using the Belvoir Castle and Haddon Hall archives as well as many other sources, a story that is both astonishing and ultimately quite tragic.

Next month I'm hoping to read The Outcast Dead the latest novel in the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths.  I have it reserved at the library and I'm sixth in the queue so hopefully I'll be able to read it in February.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Watching the Birds

This weekend I will be taking part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.  I've been doing this for a number of years now and really enjoy taking part.  We always feed the birds in our garden and have three feeding areas which are all well used.  We have hedges and shrubs on two of the three sides of our garden so there is plenty of cover for the birds in particular the sparrows and we have loads of those.  Sometimes we can count up to 30 at a time.  The other birds we see a significant number of are goldfinches.  Yesterday we counted 12 on the feeders or in the bushes nearby.  We also get regular visits from blackbirds, thrush, robin, chaffinch and greenfinch as well as great, blue, coal and long tailed tits. 

Thrush - taken from an upstairs window

I've taken a few photos over the last few days through the windows so they aren't really the best photos I've ever taken but a good record of some of our garden visitors.

Above Sparrow and Greenfinch



Blackbird and Sparrow

Long tailed tit and Goldfinch

Sparrows in their favourite laurel bush sometimes it is covered in them and they get down inside especially when the sparrow hawk flies over. I love the way they disappear amongst the leaves.  Sometimes the bush is so full of them that it shivers and sometimes they all fly off together in one swoop across the garden to the holly hedge and then back again.

We also get magpies, starlings and wood pigeons and sometimes a pair of bullfinch all of which have been seen throughout this week.  What's the betting that when we sit down today or tomorrow with a mug of coffee and a biscuit or two to do our hour of recording we only see a few of the birds we've seen all week?  That's what usually happens!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Queen Street

If you wander down Queen Street in Burslem (one of the six towns that make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire) you will come across two amazing buildings.  One still in use; one empty and neglected! The most ornate of the two buildings is the red-brick Wedgwood Memorial Institute built as a memorial to the great potter Josiah Wedgwood 1730-95. 

It stands on the site of the Brick House Pottery Works, owned by the Adams, another local pottery family and which Josiah Wedgwood rented from them during the years of 1762 to 1772.  It was also known as the Bell works because of the bell used to summon the workers to the factory each day.  It was at the Bell Factory that Wedgwood perfected his famous Black Basalt wares. 

A statue of Josiah Wedgwood stands over the impressive doorway.  I was trying to see if the statue showed Wedgwood with his wooden leg as the legs looked a bit awkward but couldn't tell from my photos.  Wedgwood had his right leg amputated in 1768 after it was weakened by an attack of smallpox in his childhood.

The Wedgwood Memorial Institute was established in 1869 as a centre for art and science, the foundation stone was laid by William Gladstone in 1863.   The facade is made up of sculptures, friezes and mosaics designed by many of the leading artists and architects of the day including John Lockwood Kipling father of the author Rudyard Kipling. 

The moulded medallions over the doorway show three of Josiah Wedgwood's famous contemporaries and associates - the scientist and fellow member of the Lunar Society Joseph Priestley, Thomas Bentley his partner in the Etruria pottery works and the artist John Flaxman.

With all its wonderful history and associations it is such a shame that this building is closed, neglected and falling into disrepair!  In 2010 The Victorian Society listed this building as one of its top ten most endangered buildings in England and Wales. According to their website in May last year The Prince's Trust unveiled plans to renovate the Wedgwood Institute to be used by small businesses - I do hope this happens!

So what is the other building I mentioned at the beginning of this post?  Well, exactly opposite the Wedgwood Institute stands the famous Burslem School of Art.  

It was opened in 1907 and designed by A R Wood who was architect of many of the important public buildings across Stoke-on-Trent which at this point was still three years away from having city status.  The six towns which made up the potteries still having their own identity - in fact they still do in many ways.  Burslem was and still is known as the Mother Town and it was the 'Bursley' of many of local author and writer Arnold Bennett's novels including 'Anna of the Five Towns' (I know - he missed one!) 'Old Wives Tales' and 'The Card'.

Many famous artists either attended or exhibited at the Art College including local pottery designers Susie Cooper, Charlotte Rhead and Clarice Cliff, David Hockney and Sir Clough Williams-Ellis founder of Portmeirion village in Wales.  Well known local artists like Reginald Haggar and Arthur Berry taught here as did the Scottish ceramic and stained glass designer Gordon Forsyth. 

The school of Art closed in the 1970s when all art studies were centralised at Staffordshire University.  It was opened again in 2000 as a cultural centre.  I love those large studio windows letting in as much light as possible for the students to work in.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weekend Flowers

I felt in need of some colour so what better way to provide it than flowers?

 Red tulips on the kitchen table

 Pink hyacinths on the table in the conservatory

The man behind the counter of the fruit and veg shop where we bought them said if they were in a pink pot they would be pink - he was right.

 Blue Iris in the living room

Some blooms just unfurling their petals with plenty more buds to open

Also in the conservatory the Money Plant has flowered

 and the cyclamen are looking good too

They have flowered every year without fail for the last eight or nine years if not moreThere have been more flowers than ever this year.

I nearly forgot the daffodils which have now been replaced by the iris! I'm sure it won't be too long before there are some of these pushing their green shoots up in the garden ready to burst into flower.

I hope you all have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Saint Giles, Matlock

Saint Giles is the parish church for Matlock but you won't find it in the centre of the present day town. It stands in a part of town that was the original old centre of Matlock.  Matlock has developed over the years from a series of smaller settlements which have joined together to become one community.  Even so places like Matlock Bath and Starkholmes still retain their separate village identity.

The church stands on a hill overlooking what is now the centre of Matlock.   There are wonderful views from the churchyard across some parts of the town.

 The two church clocks - the one on the church tower and the older sundial in front - you can see what time we visited!

 The church was open so we popped inside to see what it was like and to take a couple of photos, the font dates from the 12th century.  Apparently it was removed and buried in the rectory garden in the 18th century and replaced with a marble basin.  This was replaced in 1871 by a Victorian 'Gothic' font,  the original 12th century one was recovered and placed back in the church in 1924.

The church has undergone much restoration in its time.  The chancel was restored in 1859 using the designs of  G. H. Stokes son-in-law of Sir Joseph Paxton who was head gardener at Chatsworth House and designer of the Crystal Palace in London which was used for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

The church itself is surrounded by some very interesting old buildings which tell the story of the older village of Matlock.

From the churchyard you can see across to the newer buildings spreading from today's centre up the hills on the other side of the town.  Both the town council buildings and the Derbyshire County Council headquarters as well as the Derbyshire Archives offices are to be found there.

Looking in the opposite direction across the older buildings surrounding the church you can see Riber Castle on the hill in the distance.  The castle was built in the 1860s by local industrialist John Smedley as a family home.  It has been empty for several years now but I remember visiting, probably in the 1980s, when there was a small zoo there and seeing otters and wolves.  At the time I remember not really liking the way the animals were looked after.

 Across the road from the church is the Duke William public house.  Built in 1759 and named after the then Duke of Cumberland whose name is familiar from the accounts of the Battle of Culloden.  You can also see the old school buildings in the background.

 The house above stands next to the church and from its appearance is quite old.  It has a date of 1681 on it but some parts are even older.  The house is called The Wheatsheaf and up to one hundred years ago it was a public house of that name.

As we left the church and churchyard the light was beginning to fade and it was time to start our journey home.  It is an area of Matlock we don't usually see when we visit or pass through so it was wonderful to have seen both the church and the old part of the town it stands in.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

A little more walking

My New Year's intention - not a resolution as such -  is to try to  'move more and eat less' both have proved quite difficult so far as I'm not a big eater anyway and unfortunately my knees aren't what they used to be.  It is hard to cut down on food - we still have Christmas cake in the tin - so I guess I'm just going to have to try and change the food I eat.  I'm rather pleased though that we've had three walks already this week and have been lucky with the weather too.  Monday saw us walking around Westport Lake and a little way along the canal.  This morning we walked around the lake at Trentham Gardens and yesterday we walked a little way along the Monsal Trail from Hassop Station to the former Great Longstone station and back.

We had coffee at Hassop station before we set off on the walk as we'd first called in at Great Longstone to photograph the church for Paul's website.  The coffee was ours from a flask though which we drank in the car park.  

When we set out the trail was quiet, just a few dog walkers were out and about - most people seemed to be in the book shop and cafe as it was very busy and extremely noisy when we popped in.  I bought a lovely little book of sketches and watercolours of the Peak District whilst we were in there.  Anyway back to the walk.......

We followed the trail for a while.  The sun was out and quite bright and there were some lovely views across the countryside.

We got chatting to some people who had come over from Nottingham to walk a length of the trail.  By now the walk was quite busy with cyclist and horse riders as well as a large group of ramblers.  

The story of these station platforms is that the Marples family, owners of Thornbridge Hall, built the second station with the more imposing building which looks like a gatehouse so that they wouldn't have to get off the train at the same station as their servants.  They (the servants) got off at the first station and then the train moved a few yards further on to the second station to let the family out.  There is a huge arch in the front of the larger station which I expect was for a carriage to take people getting off the train up to the hall.  No doubt the servants and estate workers had to walk to their homes.

You can just about see the arch in the photo below.  I didn't take a closer photo of the smaller station as it has been converted into accommodation and someone is living there.

At this point we turned and walked back the way we had come

There were some interesting things to see and hear along the way.  There were many birds - we thought perhaps they were fieldfares - and I loved the fungus growing up this tree.

Hassop Station was built in 1862 for the then Duke of Devonshire and was one of two stations for the use of Chatsworth House, the other being at Rowsley.  Apparently there used to be a very sumptuous first class waiting room and an inn here.  Now, as part of the package of The Monsal Trail, it is a very popular cafe with a book shop and cycle hire as well.

I know I've taken you along the Monsal trail in past posts - mostly in 2009 when we walked the whole of the trail in manageable sections and again when we went through the newly opened tunnels - so I hope you don't mind me repeating myself just a little.