Postcards from Gran Canaria 1

Tuesday 21st February 2012.  4.45pm

Sitting on the balcony of our room looking out over the hotel garden and swimming pools towards the Atlantic Ocean.

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Not a bad view is it? Temperature is about 23C as I write and it has been a lovely warm day. A wind getting up now, as often happens late afternoon, and people are starting to drift away from the pool area, back to their rooms or maybe the hotel terrace for a drink.

The wind is whipping up a few white horses on the sea. We see little in the way of boats from here, just the occasional yacht sailing by. Meloneras is at the southernmost tip of Gran Canaria, itself the southernmost of the main Canary Islands. I think that there are a couple of smaller islands slightly further south but for me this is the end of Europe and it is marked by the Faro, or lighthouse, of Maspalomas.

 

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I think of it as the end of Europe because, although we are on an Atlantic Island 1000 miles south of the Spanish mainland, the influence and culture is entirely Spanish. There are no indigenous people here, the last of the original population, the Guanches, died out many years ago and there is no indigenous language, just Spanish and the multitude of European languages you hear around you all day. Mostly folk like us, from northern Europe, who come to get a bit of sun and warmth away from our own winters.

Enough for today. Here’s a picture of the main hotel block in the evening sunshine.  More later……………….

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Elmley Castle, Worcestershire, St Mary’s Church.

Leaving Sedgeberrow we crossed the A46 passing Hinton on the Green which we had visited about 18 months ago. It was picnic time and we found a good place to pull off the road with a good countryside view.

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While we were there a sparrow hawk sat in the trees on the left and also a heron flew by trailing his legs in it’s lazy way. You can still enjoy a picnic even in January and nature is all around you.

On to Elmley Castle. A pretty village, quite busy at lunchtime with cars parked and folks eating at the pub.

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The church is in the middle of the village, Pevsner notes that the path to the door continues in line with the village street.

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A lovely village church, dating back to the 12th century, it includes work from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. On a January day it was cold inside, colder than outside. As usual there are more images on my Flickr site so here I want to highlight the two superb monuments in the north transept and some interesting stone carving.

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This is the Savage family tomb for William Savage, died 1616, his son Giles, died 1631, and Giles’ wife Katherine who died in1674. Carved in alabaster this is one of the most beautiful tombs I have yet seen. The details in the carving are excellently done.

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Katherine lies holding a baby, every detail of clothing beautifully carved. She died 42 years after her husband so I wonder what is the significance of the baby, perhaps a grand child?

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The foot of the monument with two lions, a stag with an arrow through its neck and four kneeling children. The clothing and footwear look most realistic.

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Four children kneel at the foot of the tomb. Probably the sons of Giles Savage. Pevsner (Alan Brooks 2007) suggests a date of 1631 for the tomb, the work of Samuel Baldwin.

On the opposite wall of the transept is the large monument to Thomas, First Earl of Coventry, died 1699. Signed by William Stanton. This edifice was supposed to be placed in the Coventry family church at Croome d’Abitot but a family dispute made that impossible. The Earl’s widow had married Thomas Savage of Elmley Castle and thus the monument finished up here. His lordship looks very relaxed.

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 Two more pieces of stone carving, firstly the font. The bowl is 16th century but the carved dragons on the base are likely to be from the 13th century and very realistic.

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Finally a small carving of a rabbit from the porch. Undated but certainly medieval. I understand that there is also a pig but the cold beat me in the end. A return visit in warmer weather is needed.

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English parish churches are full of surprises and relics of our history. This one is no exception and well worth a visit. It is usually open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sedgeberrow, Worcestershire.

Tuesday 17th January was another relatively fine day and an opportunity to visit a couple of Worcestershire churches. We had to make a call in Alcester so drove on to Evesham for a coffee stop at Morrison’s. Very useful these supermarkets with their free parking and facilities for personal comforts. This coffee shop is a little too near the main doors  and was a bit chilly on this morning!

A couple of miles south of Evesham, Sedgeberrow lies just off the A46 and is an attractive village. The spire of St Mary’s church is well visible as you approach but, as so often, disappears the nearer you get. The church is in the heart of the village and is kept locked. The vicar no longer lives in the village, he is at Hampton, Evesham, but there are two churchwardens listed on the board and we came up trumps with the first, Mrs Banks. She asked us to wait a few minutes and she soon arrived by car with her husband. They made us most welcome and were able to tell us a lot about the church and how it is today.

The church was consecrated in 1331 and today’s building is original including the west tower which is unusual as it hexagonal in its lower stages and octagonal in the upper stage and the spire, probably as near as we get to a round tower in Worcestershire. (The spire was renewed in Butterfield’s 19th century restoration.)

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The interior is 14th century and was restored to this state by William Butterfield in 1866-68.

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He installed the large, wide screen and the unusual reredos together with the tiling around the chancel, the pulpit and the font cover. The font itself is thought to be 13th century.

 

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The church is high and wide which suggest an Anglo-Saxon origin. The west wall has a rectangular opening very high up which is similar to other Anglo-Saxon churches. (Unfortunately obscured by the screen in this image.)

 

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A very successful visit and many thanks to Mr and Mrs Banks for opening up.  More pictures on my Flickr site. I would like to go back in warmer weather and take some pictures of the village!

From Sedgeberrow we went on a few miles to Elmley Castle which will be the next post.

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Hagley, Worcestershire. St John the Baptist.

The second full weekend in January has turned out cold, bright and very sunny. Ideal conditions for church photography especially with no leaves on the trees. My quest to photograph all the parish churches in the county is about 75% complete and I do want to cover the remaining 70 or so this year so I need to take advantage of any fine days.  Friday was St John the Baptist, Hagley. I had been before but there was a midweek lunchtime organ concert in progress so I didn’t go inside. This church is usually open and this time we had it to ourselves.IMG_2482F copy

Built of sandstone, and very much an estate church, it lies next to Hagley Cricket Club in the grounds of Hagley Hall in the old part of the village about 1 mile away from the newer village which grew up around the railway station. Hagley Hall is the home of the Lyttleton family, the Viscounts Cobham, and their hand lies very heavy on the church. Lots of wall memorials, garter banners and memorial stained glass. I found the interior to be slightly oppressive.

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Traces of the medieval church remain but todays church is mainly the work of G E Street in 1856-8. He added the west tower and spire in 1864-5.

Some more interior shots but there are others on my Flickr page. You can also see detailed images of the stained glass on Aidan McRae Thomsons Flickr page. Aidan also has pictures of St Saviours Church in West Hagley.

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And a couple of exterior shots. I have never seen a pathway lined by gravestones before. A pathway of the dead, perhaps?

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We walked up to the Hall after the church and found the tearoom open with one other customer. A very nicely served tea and cake. The hall is open through the winter from 1.30 to 4, we were too late to actually visit.

A picture of the front of Hagley Hall showing the proximity of the church and another of sunset over the Abberley Hills through the archway between the main steps.

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A Day in Worcester

We had a good day in Worcester on Monday. I had had a new pair of trousers for Christmas, very clearly labelled, in four places, 38” waist. Tried them on and a nasty shock, they didn’t fit. I thought I’d eaten too much at Christmas but no, they were only 36”. So back to M & S for another pair.

We travelled by bus. There is an excellent service direct from Redditch at 9.40am operated by Dudley’s Coaches which takes you into the City Centre. Our first stop is always a coffee at Druckers, opposite Huntingdon Hall in the Crowngate Centre. Then to M & S and a very nice pair of trousers, Blue Harbour Luxury jeans and they fit very well.

Time then to split up, Ruth likes to browse the shops and I like to wander with my camera. These images are the result of my wanderings. I try to picture various buildings and details which are mentioned in the Pevsner guide so I can get more information when I get home. Worcester has some good 18th and 19th century buildings and it’s possible to spend many days seeking them all out if you wish to. These are a few bits and pieces to be going on with.

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Fish Street runs off the west side of High Street at its south end. No 21 and the Farriers Arms pub are both 17th century. St Helen’s Church is a 15th century building with a 19th century exterior, the result of renovations and rebuilding by Preedy in 1863 and, more extensively, by Aston Webb in 1879/80. Closed as a church in the 1930’s, I think, and used as the County Record Office from 1957 to 2002. Now the Parish Centre for the City Centre Parish but I’ve never been able to find it open!

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The former Police Station in Copenhagen Street, also just off the High Street. Built in 1862 for the City Of Worcester Force and used until 1941. The City of Worcester Force merged with three County Police forces to form West Mercia Police in 1967. The spire is all that remains of St Andrew’s Church, demolished in the late 1940’s. 155ft high and known locally as the “Glover’s Needle.”

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Interesting artwork in brick and terracotta on the wall of Crowngate Shopping Centre, c1990. Opposite Huntingdon Hall.

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St Swithins Street from the east end by St Swithuns Church. I don’t know why the difference in spelling! A fine sweep of Victorian buildings.

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St Swithins Street from the west end at High Street. The pediment on the far end of the Nat West Bank bears the inscription “ Rebuilt Inglethorpe’s Trust 1890.” Richard Inglethorpe was a wealthy Worcester merchant who died childless in 1618. He left his fortune to found almshouses for six poor men, and one poor woman who had to look after them. You can read the whole story here. The newspaper story, from 2002, says the site is still owned by Worcester Municipal Charities who are presumably getting a nice income.

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The Cross. Four fine buildings. The nearest is early 18th century. The next one along, built as a bank but now Costa Coffee, in Baroque style, early 20th century. Lloyds Bank next to it was built in 1861 as the head office of the Worcester City and County Bank. Pevsner calls it superb. Finally the former St Nicholas Church, now a Slug and Lettuce pub/restaurant. Built in the 1730’s and closed as a church in 1992. (One of 9 Worcester churches to close in the 20th century.)

We met up for a buffet lunch at a Chinese restaurant which was OK, and returned home by bus mid afternoon. A good day out. One more picture, some almond blossom right outside the cathedral. Lovely to see blossom in January.

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Evesham. New Year’s Day 2012.

After a six month gap I’ve decided to start writing my blog again and what better time to start than New Year’s Day.

For the fourth year running we spent New Year’s Eve at the Kings Court Hotel near Alcester. It was a good evening with good food and music. This morning was bright and after an excellent breakfast we decided to head for Evesham and have a stroll round the town before going home. Parking in the Oat Street car park, free on Sundays, we stopped to look through the archway at Oat Street Unitarian Chapel, built in 1737 and a Grade II* Listed Building.

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The 11 o clock service was about to start, I was reluctant to join it but Ruth was keen and, having established that it would be for about an hour, in we went. We were so glad we did, neither of us had been in a Unitarian church before and knew nothing of Unitarianism but we enjoyed the service and the fellowship afterwards over coffee and biscuits. The members of the church were very friendly and from them we learned a lot about the Unitarians and their beliefs and came away with several leaflets to look at and find out more if we wish to. There is more about the Unitarian Church in England here and about the Evesham Church with lots of images here. 

One of the joys of travelling as a couple is that you can do things on the spur of the moment and change your plans as you go. By the time we came out of the church the weather had gone dull so we walked to the High Street and while Ruth browsed in W H Smith, one of the few shops open, I took a quick look at the Abbey Bell Tower.

All that now remains of the vast Evesham Abbey the bell tower was built by Abbot Lichfield in c1530, less than 10 years before the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. The tower is 110 feet tall and a superb structure from the Perpendicular period.

 

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So a very good start to 2012 and I hope I can continue to blog from time to time through the year. A very Happy New Year to you!

 

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Tibberton

One of the reasons for writing a blog is to record impressions of the places we visit locally as well as further afield. We haven’t done  a lot locally recently but a free Saturday afternoon with some sunshine saw me heading into the country with the camera. Ruth decided to stay at home and do some gardening.

My destination was Tibberton a couple of miles north east of Worcester. Today the village is long and straggling, stretching from the original village site around the church over half a mile to the banks of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal which was built here in the early 19th century.

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The Bridge Inn, alongside the canal, is a good place to start a visit. There is car parking, a nice garden, Banks’s beers and direct access to the towpath if you want a walk. The food looks good too although I didn’t try it.

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I took a short walk along the canal towards Worcester, around a bend about 1/4 mile from the pub you come to a bridge under the M5 Motorway and the traffic noise can be annoying. Beyond the motorway you are almost in Worcester where the canal becomes more urban. Also this short walk reminded me why Ruth and I no longer do as much canal walking as we used to. Canal walking is usually gentle, the only gradients are around the locks, and there is plenty of interesting wildlife and some lovely rural views. However the tranquility is spoilt by cyclists to whom you have to give way and move aside. The “audible means of approach”, i.e a bell, doesn’t seem to apply any more. You are expected to know that they are behind you! The other, perhaps more serious, bugbear is irresponsible dog owners who allow their animals to foul the pathways and not clear it up. Not all dog owners, I know, but it only takes one or two and you can be carrying it on your shoes and clothes for the rest of the day.

So it was back to the car and a drive through the village. Most of the housing is modern reflecting its position as a dormitory village to Worcester. There are some older buildings, farmhouses dating back to the 15th and 17th centuries when farming would have been the main employer for the village. There is also another pub, The Speed the Plough. It is difficult to get a photograph of villages like this other than a long road with houses and cars, not very “villagey” and I prefer not to photograph private dwellings even if they are very old.

As so often in English villages the church is sited near to the “big house”, in this case a large 17th century farmhouse. There is evidence that there has been a church on this site since medieval times but the current building was dedicated in 1868.

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The dedication to St Peter Ad Vincula is the only one in Worcestershire. It means St Peter in Chains. Wikipedia lists only 16 churches in England with this dedication. The architect was William Jeffrey Hopkins, well respected in and around Worcestershire. Now the church is a little away from the modern village. Following the building of the canal new dwellings would have sprung up near to it to take advantage of the employment and commercial opportunities it offered. Hence the church is now not even visible from the main part of the village. It is however usually open and welcome to visitors.

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I took a few pictures, we had been here before in 2007. Before leaving I decided to sign the visitors book and was surprised that a £20 note fell out of it. The last signature was two weeks previously. Being a helpful chap (?) I thought I would let somebody know it was there so they could collect it. Found the churchwarden’s phone number in a copy of the parish magazine, he thanked me, asked me to stay for a few minutes till he got there which I was happy to do. What followed was a very entertaining hour. The gentleman concerned, a retired farmer if farmers ever retire, is 89 years old and has been churchwarden for 40 years. Clearly there is nothing in the church he doesn’t know about and he was happy to show me various little things that I wouldn’t have spotted myself and tell me the background to several items. Chance meetings like this are a wonderful part of the hobby of Church Crawling. You can learn a tremendous amount about churches and their communities from such people.

As I was about to leave he invited me to view his private museum and I followed him to a nearby farm. Here there was a partly covered barn containing old farm implements and machinery including a three wheel Fordson tractor and an old Morris 8 car. Further round the farmyard was a long shed in which he had gathered an incredible collection of various items connected to farming and to country crafts from hedgeing and ditching to butter and cheese making. It was quite surprising to find this museum tucked away like this in a farmyard. I didn’t take any pictures, I plan to contact him again to see if we can make a further visit.  But now it was nearly 5pm and time to head home. More pictures from Tibberton on Flickr.

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