Sunday, 29 June 2014

Eternal face-off at Bradley

Monument to Sir Thomas Browne and his wife at Bradley

Bradley Church is pretty perfect for the 'church-crawler', ie someone who enjoys musing on the ancient heritage & art that can be found in many historic churches.
One piece that draws the eye in Bradley is the seventeenth century wall monument by the door, where Sir Thomas Browne and his wife now face each other for eternity.

I was intrigued by the chevron etched into the wall between them, though there is no explanation for it that I could see.  The chevron is one of the heraldic symbols of Staffordshire county.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Symbolically split

Headstone at Marchington Church

Not exactly sure why I like this photo.  I guess the mistiness and light evoke the early hours of the morning; and it is a little symbolic. 

You'll often see 'broken' columns in a churchyard over a grave, as they represent a life too early ended. But this headstone at Marchington Church has fractured and split, so it is not a deliberate shaping like a broken-column - but somehow it has become symbolic anyway.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lord Of The Rings on the bridge

View from Essex Bridge toward the River Trent and the River Sow

In The Lord Of The Rings, by JRR Tolkien, the village of Tavrobel has in it a bridge at which two rivers meet.  Tolkien's son Christopher has confirmed that the site is based on the real village of Great Haywood, here in Staffordshire.
Tolkien lived near here for a while as he recuperated after a stint in the trenches in World War One.

This view from the famous Essex Bridge looks toward the River Trent (on the right) and the River Sow (on the left). 

There is also a canal tucked away a little behind all that greenery - the start of the Staffs & Worcester - but I don't suppose an Old English scholar would have wanted to include that aspect...

Monday, 23 June 2014

Poppies red in the fields

Wild poppies

Wild poppies are studding the fields right now. 
They are all the more sombrely significant as August's World War One commemorations draw nearer.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Staffs saint - by Staffs sculptor

Statue of St Bertram

Saint Bertram was a Staffordshire saint and hermit, so it's fitting that he has been sculpted by a Staffordshire artist.   Harry Everington co-founded the short-lived Frink School of Sculpture, which was based in Stoke-on-Trent, in the 1990s.

This work by Everington can be found in St Bartholomew Church at Longnor.  Tradition has it that St Bertram founded a church at Longor in the eight century.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Joules knot

Vintage poster for Joules Ales

This reproduction vintage poster for Joules Ales is actually sited in Shropshire, but I took a photo anyway, for my collection of sightings of Stafford Knots (you can see the knot just above the word 'Stone').

The Joules Brewery was originally brewed in mid-Staffordshire, but is now based in Market Drayton in Shropshire.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Here comes Queen Elizabeth

Lesley Smith as Elizabeth I

Lesley Smith is a professional historian, but seemed to find another niche for herself when she started to 're-enact' Elizabeth I, England's great Tudor monarch, some years ago.
Nowadays, Lesley (who also does Mary Queen of Scots and others) is one of the main attractions at Tutbury Castle - and quite rightly so, as she is very very good.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

England fans - realistic

England team flags poster

Yes... it's World Cup time - but England fans don't expect a great deal from their team.

This very funny sales poster in Kinver High Street neatly sums up the nicely self-deprecating attitude that fans have towards the team's chance of success...

Friday, 13 June 2014

Locking up heritage for the future

Lock-up at Gnosall

It is amazing the affection that the small villages of Staffordshire have for their heritage.

This little 'lock-up' (temporary gaol) at Gnosall is a good example.  It's not very old (1820s), and was originally sited elsewhere in the village, but was in the way of a road building programme.  So the village's Women's Institute raised funds to move it - brick by brick - to this new site not far from the church.

Now, I hope I appreciate heritage, but I think I would have just let it go.  Not the villagers of Gnosall though!  I guess they appreciated the sense of the past it gave them.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Scary preacher

Hilderstone Scarecrow Festival at Hilderstone Church

It's not often that I follow one post with another post on the same subject - but I had to follow the previous entry, on the Hilderstone Scarecrow Festival, with another example from the weekend: this terrific 'preacher' scarecrow.

I think it's great that the village church - which is quite an historic one - can allow itself to have a little fun at its own expense.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Scaring from a bus-shelter

Scarecrow Festival at Hilderstone

You have to admire the small village of Hilderstone. Every summer it has a Scarecrow Festival, in which households each build a scarecrow - that very often stands outside their houses (scaring motorists - and thus living up to their descriptions!). 
The villagers really do think cleverly, creatively and right out-of-the-box.

This example sits in the village bus-shelter, waiting patiently - and probably for eternity - for a rural bus to come by.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Lambs hit the fields

Ewe and lamb

The fields are teeming with the young of many animals right now - young rabbits, foals, chicks fallen from nests, bullocks getting used to the open air.
And lambs of course.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Sign of old-fashioned times

Signpost at Bradley

Bradley is a posh, attractive, hidden-away little village (but with some memorable sights); and is almost purposefully timeless...    So much so that it seems to have deliberately retained its old-fashioned black-and-white signposts - ones with the scrolled edges on the 'fingers' themselves.
This type of post has largely disappeared elsewhere now, to be replaced by 'sturdier' metal signs.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Anniversary with real tins

Tin Wedding Anniversary flower display

It's Flower Festival time in many country churches right now. A number of local voluntary groups will agree to submit flower arrangements, all on a theme, and so the church is filled with many different displays.  The local community turns up to admire the displays, and everyone has a cup of tea.

At Cauldon Church, the theme was 'wedding anniversaries', and the display in the photo was for the tin, or 10th, wedding anniversary.
It used, naturally enough, real tin-cans...

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Summer gardens

Alton Towers gardens

With June comes Summer. Erm... one hopes.

The gardens of course have flourished in the recent rains, but a little sun would help too.  The gardens at Alton Towers are among the best in Staffordshire, and they will be open to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme project in two weeks time.
Worth going I think.