Saturday, 31 August 2013

A bit of posh

Ingestre Festival Day is about as posh as one can get in the summer fayre world.
Set in the grounds of Ingestre Hall, there were the usual craft-stalls and tea & sandwiches stuff, but the highlights of the day marked it out as, erm, posh.

The highlights included bell-ringing displays in the eighteenth-century adjacent church, choir-singing on the steps of the great staircase, one stall (called 'The New Rectory') which featured the local vicar, and a mummers' play on the lawn.

But... it was all rather lovely, really.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

It's not shopping; it's charity

This clever poster, created for Red Cross charity-shops, such as this one in Kidsgrove, summons up brilliantly how a lot of us rationalise our trips to thrift-shops.

Of course I really buy in charity shops because what they sell are bargains, but... it's also all for a good cause!!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Is it a fish? Is it a man?

This extraordinary gargoyle is to be found on the exterior of St Luke's Church in Leek, looking out for malefactors or anybody inending no good to the church.... 
In fact, it's pretty weird, with its flaps that look like nothing so much as gill protectors; and I have no idea what it is meant to be.
The church was built in 1848, so it's nothing oddly medieval.

I can't help thinking (very disrepectfully, probably) that it looks very much like the famous 1950s monster, The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

This post was featured on the City Daily Photo Theme Day on the theme of 'Looking Out'

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Bridge for a saint

An old stone bridge, a beautiful spot, sunshine: the perfect recipe for an August bank holiday weekend.

We are on the Ilam Estate, where there are plenty of picturesque walks, including one across the bridge in this photo, St Bertram's Bridge. 
Named after the local saint, it has been the local crossing over the Manifold River for hundreds of years.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Ruins for a poet

The poet Richard Barnfield was born here - at Norbury Manor.  As you can see, the building has beens torn down and all that is left is this ruined site, although the moat that surrounded the old manor-house is still here. It’s green in this photo, because of all the algae in it.

Richard Barnfield, as the phrase goes “did not fulfil his early promise”.  Born in 1574, two of his sonnets were good enough to be accidentally ascribed to Shakespeare, but he seems to have stopped bothering with poetry by the time he was twenty-five. 
Pretty much no-one has heard of him; and there is no memorial to him, either here in Norbury, or in nearby Stone where he lived most of his life.

These ruins are reached on a public footpath about three hundred yards from Norbury Junction  They are not easy to reach by car

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Inflatable church

This is the most unusual church building I've ever seen...    This particular one has to be erected with the aid of a bicycle pump - and doesn't look totally steady in even a slight breeze.

Of course, it's not entirely serious. It's more of a publicity gimmick (though it does have a prayer space), and you'll see it at festivals and fetes. (I saw this at The Fuse Festival in Lichfield where it was being used by one of the town's most active Christian communities).

The idea is: if the people won't come to the church, you take the church to the people... 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Expensive - or cheap? - holiday

The most expensive holiday home in Staffordshire is probably Caverswall Castle, which will cost you £5,000 for the weekend. 
However, paradoxically, it's also among the best value lets - you'd get accommodation for over 30 adults & children for that, so it works out better if you think of it per-person!
The Moat House (annexe) is even cheaper at £1000 for seven people for the weekend.

The bizarre thing is that it is quite tucked-away. This moated entrance is squeezed down a small lane between Caverswall village's two churches, and the castle and its grounds are almost totally hidden from view.

The 'castle' is actually a 17th century rebuild, though the original medieval walls are still extant.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Hazy days of summer

The warm days go on.  For middle-England to have a summer where temperatures are constantly in the 60s (Fahrenheit) and above is pretty unusual.
But some liberal rainy days have also meant that growth in the countryside is succulent. The blackberries, and the corn, are ripening quickly...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Bravery rewarded. In a way.

Poor Timothy Trow.  Seeing a young girl fall into the canal at this spot (along London Road, in Oakhill), he jumped from the tram he was on (this was 1894), dived in to try to save her, was affected by cramp - and drowned.
Fortunately for her, the girl was eventually pulled out, and lived.

However, the public was so affected by his brave act that a collection was raised for the memorial obelisk you see in the photo.

If you do go to see Timothy's monument, you might wonder where the canal is, as there is no sign of it now. The Newcastle Canal was closed in 1935, and since filled in.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Shakespeare in Staffs

Shakespeare and Staffordshire... are there any connections?  Erm, not really.  Write-ups about Stafford point out that the actors company that Shakespeare was a member of came to the town, but that's about it.

Howver, it's claimed that the two inscriptions on this massive tomb in Tong Church (which is on the Staffordshire-Shropshire border) might have been written by the Man. One of them reads:
Ask who lyes heare but do not weep,
He is not dead he dooth but sleep
This stoney register, is for his bones
His fame is more perpetual than theise stones
And his own goodness with himself being gon
Shall lyve when earthlie monument is none

...whose rhythm sounds a little trite for Shakespeare, but then, after all, this is a dedication, not a piece of thoughtful poetry.  However nothing is proven. 
For an interesting refelection on this debate, see The Shakespeare Blog

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Lichfield in Malta

One aspect of doing a blog about Staffordshire is that anything Staffordshire-linked is grist to the mill. As far as I'm concerned.

This building in Sliema (in Malta) is like many others in this former British colony - it has a name which refers to a British place. In this case, the Staffordshire city of Lichfield.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Going to school for 150 years (plus)

Staffordshire is full of primary schools that still use old Victorian buildings. All Saints School in Bednall, which is a very small village, is just one example.

But... is it something to celebrate?  The fact that one of the world's leading nations is sending its children to schools that are past their sell-by date seems absurd to me.

Yet, we English do celebrate it! 
The plaque on this school (under the window - sorry, I know you can't read it) has been installed especially to mark the school's 150th anniversary in 2006.  Bednall's children have been attending here since 1856.

Do we laugh, or weep?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Tamworth's attractiveness

Tamworth really does try harder. The park, which is slap bang in the centre of the town, and on the river, has flowers in it virtually all year round (see Tamworth January post), and really looks terrific - a place where people are happy and proud to gather.

Other Staffordshire towns try too; but, in terms of its central parkland attraction, Tamworth wins hands down.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Scrooge's ... memorial

Real grave...fictional person! 
I came across this gravestone in St Chad's Church in Shrewsbury - and was a little surprised.  Well, a lot surprised actually (!), as Ebenezer Scrooge is, as we know, a fictional character from Dickens' story A Christmas Carol.

The stone is real enough though; it's not made of paste...

It turns out that the movie of A Christmas Carol was partly filmed here, so the set-designers simply flipped an old grave in the churchyard, inscribed the name of Scrooge, and ... there you are. 
It seems like they never flipped it back as the 'grave' brought so many curiosity-seekers.

By the way, I know that Shrewsbury is not in Staffordshire (though it is in the next county), but I felt I wanted to include this photo, because I have also taken a photo of the 'grave' of yet another Dickens character, Little Nell. (See that photo in this post). 

This post was featured on the Cemetery Sunday website

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Cafe for the community

The phrase 'community cafe' is bandied about a lot - mostly, it seems to describe places that sell exotic, organic foods - but the Dougie Mac Cafe in Meir really is what I would call a proper community cafe.
It's bright, cheap, friendly, sociable, has plenty of room, serves good basic food - and is popular.

It helps of course that the cafe is one part of the large charity-store in the town-centre, which raises hundreds of thousands of pounds for the local Douglas Macmillan Hospice. The items are so cheap that you can go there, spend very little, and yet still feel as though you've had some retail therapy!

And then, it's time for a cup of tea.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Sturdy bottom hero

It must be the extremely sturdy buttocks on this statue that cause so many teenagers to crowd round the back of it and giggle so much.  At least I presume so.

The statue is of Perseus, the hero of Greek myth, who - among his many deeds - chopped off the head of the evil, snake-haired Medusa. Medusa's head is shown trailing nerves and arteries, so it's all very gory too.
It is a very good bronze copy of the sixteenth-century original by Cellini.

One can see it, if you can get past the teenagers, in the gardens on the Trentham Estate.