Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Green man welcomes Spring

'Green Man' carving at Longdon Church

This 'Green Man' carving at Longdon Church looks out from a Norman column - which makes him 1000 years old, almost.  The church is remarkable, not just for this figure but a number of sights, and is worth a visit.

Incidentally, that is not a huge handlebar moustache that he sports (though it looks like that!) - it is vegetation, growing ivy-like, from his mouth.  He is a symbol of Spring and re-growth.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Walkers dust their boots off

Tea Room at Wetton Mill

It's Easter! ... and the start of the getting-out-and-about season.  Walkers have dusted off their boots, extracted the winter mothballs from their jackets, and are heading off into the Great Outdoors once again.

The Tea Room at Wetton Mill opened for the 2016 season last week.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Open space for all creatures

St Augustine's Field in Rugeley

St Augustine's Field
was donated to the people of Rugeley some thirty years ago as an open-space.  It is now used by the rugby club as well as by dog-walkers - which means the players have the unpleasant task of cleaning the pitch of excreta before each match.

It's not a very prepossesing site, being enclosed by a fence on all four sides and having Rugeley Power Station as its view.  But, at least the principle is right.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Staffordshire getting a flag

The flag of Staffordshire County

To see the flag of Staffordshire flying anywhere is pretty rare, but then there is some confusion about what the flag is.  The flag in this photo is actually the flag of Staffordshire County Council.  
I saw this example in Tunstall, outside the Brittain Adams company offices. (Brittain Adams is a long standing local firm).

With Staffordshire Day coming up soon, there is a proposal to adopt this flag as the proper one for the county.  However, one action group is lobbying hard for a version of the flag that omits the heraldic lion altogether. If you live in Staffordshire, you can vote online for which version you prefer. Voting ends this Sunday.

A separate flag design, based more profoundly on the Stafford Knot than this one, has not yet matured I believe.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

The end for Offa

Northernmost point of Offa's Dyke

As Offa was a Staffordshire man (as well as a king), I think I'm justified in using this scene, albeit that it is in Wales. 
This is the point at the northern end of Offa's Dyke - an earthwork ditch & rampart created (probably) to keep out the marauding Welsh in the eighth century. Much of it can still be seen, thanks to conservationists; and one can walk a prescribed long-distance path along what remains.

King Offa, though controlling most of middle England, kept his main court at Tamworth, which is in Staffordshire.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

'Unseen' trough stirs thoughts

This stone trough on a road near Biddulph Grange goes largely 'unseen'. By that I mean that many people will pass it, and think nothing of it.
But one of the great things about having a camera with you is that because you are actively looking for photos, you will 'see' things and be drawn to them.

Then the questions come in.   For example: how old?, why was it put there?, who cares for it?, what identity does it have?, is it significant to somebody? what role does it have now? And so on... Interest is stirred.
And so a whole world of imagination and/or stories can open up before one.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Penny-bank colours

Pennybank House in Leek

This rather striking coloured panel can be found on Pennybank House in Leek.  The name recalls the Leek Co-operative Society, which used to have a base in this building. (Children were once encouraged to save a penny a week by the Co-op).
Pennybank House is not on the normal tourist trail, so not many people see this work, which is a shame.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Miserable cemetery

Stafford Cemetery

By contrast to Stoke-on-Trent's main municipal cemetery (see previous post), Stafford's is a fairly miserable affair. It feels abandoned and only cursorily cared-for; while its cafe (in pic) resembles a public-toilet block.
You'd have to be dead before you'd want to come here.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Cemetery as park

Carmountside Cemetery

If Stoke on Trent does one thing well, it's its huge municipal cemetery.  The Carmountside Cemetery - built in the 1940s - is a well-planned, decorous and respectful place.  The various gardens are laid out well and attract silent browsers.
It's almost like a old-fashioned stately-house park.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Time stopped still in Barlaston

Clock-tower of old St John the Baptist Church in Barlaston.

People get very confused about the church of St John the Baptist on the edge of the Wedgwood estate in Barlaston.
It’s assumed the church must be something to do with the original Josiah – as Barlaston Hall, for which St John’s serves as an estate church, is also 18th Century. In fact, the Wedgwood firm only bought the Barlaston estate in the 1930s.
However, inside, if you could get inside, there are indeed memorials to the Wedgwood family. Very confusing.

It’s also assumed that St John’s was closed in 1980 because the hall next to it went into ruin then for a few years. Actually, the building was literally undermined by subsidence from the coal-working deep underneath it...
It’s all rather abandoned now, despite being near an estate of new luxury homes; and the vandalised clock tower is a sad symbol of that state of affairs

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Saint Chad - in one piece

St Chad window at Brewood Church

It's good old Saint Chad's feast-day tomorrow (March 2nd).  St Chad is the patron saint of Staffordshire, having converted many of the area's inhabitants to the faith in his time as Bishop Of Mercia in the seventh century.

It used to be the case that his bones were paraded around the Catholic Cathedral of St Chad in Birmingham on this day, but I can't find any reference to the practice being scheduled for this year.
In fact, poor St Chad's skeleton has had a torrid time. Not only have his bones been moved from pillar to post, but for a while his head was kept in a small chapel at Lichfield Cathedral - only to disappear during the Reformation.
In this photo of a window at Brewood Church, St Chad is depicted holding Lichfield Cathedral.