Author Archives: James P Miller

The Golden Earring of Sir John Weller-Poley

This is Sir John Weller-Poley’s monument in The Church of the Holy Trinity, Boxted, Suffolk. As you can see he is sporting a splendid gold frog earring in his left ear.

Now if you think men wearing earrings only dates back to the sixties and seventies you will have to think again as this fine gentleman was born in 1558 and died in 1638. There is also a reference in The Bible referring to “their SONS and daughters earrings.” so it would appear that the custom is older than time itself, and it is probably more than likely that someone somewhere has taken it as a PHD subject: The origins of why the male of the species wears earrings.

The Church of the Holy Trinity, Boxted, Suffolk is well worth a visit for more reasons than an aristocrat’s fine ear decoration so if you are passing this way stop and enjoy you will not be disappointed.

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Holy Trinity Church, Boxted, Suffolk

Weller-Poley's Monument

Weller-Poley’s Monument, Boxted, Suffolk

Boxted Hall, Boxted, Suffolk

Boxted Hall, Boxted, Suffolk

Holy Trinity, Boxted, Suffolk

Holy Trinity, Boxted, Suffolk

A Novel by Anthony Trollope, The Australian Outback and Mepal A Village In The Fens

The village of Mepal sits on the eastern edge of the Hundred Foot Washes, in days gone bye the traffic to and from the City of Ely would trundle through the village passing over the Old and New Bedford Rivers and the Three Pickerels public house.

St Marys Church, Mepal

St Marys Church, Mepal

On the western edge of the Hundred Foot Washes you will find Engine Bank which runs northward along the Counter Drain and The Old Bedford River (River Delph) taking you passed the Mepal Pumping Station and Fortrey’s Hall, onto Welshes Dam and Welney in Norfolk.

Mepal Pumping Station

Mepal Pumping Station

John Fortrey a London merchant built the hall and his son Sir James Fortrey was responsible for extending the building, there is a plaque in the small church of St Marys, Mepal to Sir James commemerating his adventures, the Fortrey Family were heavily involved along with the Duke of Bedford in the drainage of The Fens.

Fortrey's Hall

Fortrey’s Hall

Fortrey Hall and the surrounding area is featured in Anthony Trollope’s novel John Caldigate which was first published 1879, not as well-known as his Barchester Chronicles but can be recommend as good read on a cold winters evening, it takes in places as far apart as the Australian Outback, Newmarket, Cambridge and The Cambridgeshire Fens. The description of the area in the novel in my view is not very flattering and certainly not one in which I agree!

“Folking is not a place having many attractions of its own, beyond the rats. It lies in the middle of the Cambridgeshire fens, between St. Ives, Cambridge, and Ely. In the two parishes of Utterden and Netherden there is no rise of ground which can by any stretch of complaisance be called a hill. The property is bisected by an immense straight dike, which is called the Middle Wash, and which is so sluggish, so straight, so ugly, and so deep, as to impress the mind of a stranger with the ideas of suicide. And there are straight roads and straight dikes, with ugly names on all sides, and passages through the country called droves, also with ugly appellations of their own, which certainly are not worthy of the name of roads. The Folking Causeway possesses a bridge across the Wash, and is said to be the remains of an old Roman Way which ran in a perfectly direct line from St. Neots to Ely. When you have crossed the bridge going northward,—or north-westward,—there is a lodge at your right hand, and a private road running, as straight as a line can be drawn, through pollard poplars, up to Mr. Caldigate’s house.”

From: Anthony Trollope’s John Caldigate, Chapter I: Folking

 

 


Web Sites of Interests:

Parks and Gardens Fortreys Hall

Mepal Parish Web Site

Mepal

Ouse Washes Mepal Pumping Stations

The Rhythm of A Feeding Bir

On a cold December morning sitting in our sun lounge I become aware of a small bird feeding from the peanuts in the bird feeder, as I watched I noticed a certain rhythm in his table manners where he would take a beak full of the morsels on offer and then look from side to side, after filling his whistle again he would suddenly look behind before returning for more nourishment, this continued until he took to the air well satisfied.

If I where an Ornithologist perhaps I would understand the psychology and interpret the body language but surely that would make the extraordinary common place!

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all

And sweetest in the Gale is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest Sea
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb of Me.

EMILY DICKINSON

The King of East Anglia and A Tenuous Connection To Ringo Star

Our destination is Emneth, it sits in Norfolk close to the Cambridgeshire border just south of the A47 which runs from Birmingham in the west to Great Yarmouth in the east.

If your approach is from Peterborough along the A47 you will need to turn right away from the town of Wisbech toward Outwell and Downham Market, do not get carried away bear left long before you reach Outwell or you will miss the joys of Emneth completely.

As you approach you will be faced with the imposing presence of the Church of St Edmund’s it cannot be missed. The Reverend W. V. Awdry was vicar of the parish between 1953 and 1965 and many of the Thomas the Tank engine stories were written in the old vicarage at Emneth.

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Church of St Edmund, Emneth, Norfolk.

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Church of St Edmund, Emneth, Norfolk.

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Memorial Window to The Reverend W. V. Awdry


Interesting Web Links:

 

St Edmund The King of East Anglia

St Edmund, Original Patron Saint of England

Thomas the Tank Engine

The Thomas the Tank Engine Man: The Life of Reverend W. Awdry by Brian Sibley

Note: I thought of inserting a link to Ringo but had second thoughts, do not ask me why!

Dorothy L Sayers Childhood Memories, Bluntisham

At the end of 1897, the future great crime novelist and classical scholar Dorothy L Sayers arrived at the railway station of Bluntisham cum Earith in the Fenlands of Huntingdonshire, she was between four and five at the time,  in later life she said that she did not remember the train journey from Oxford to Bluntisham but remembered the walk from the station to the rectory. Her Mother and her Father who had just taken up the living of Bluntisham had arrive a few days earlier.

The rectory where Dorothy spent a lot of her childhood, now called Bluntisham House can still be seen as you travel from St Ives in the west to Ely in the north east. The railway station has now long gone but if if you take a walk along the banks of The Great River Ouse you can still see the pillars that supported the rail tracks across the fenland.

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The Photo shows The Great River Ouse in flood, the pillars that supported the tracks in the foreground and St Marys Church,  Bluntisham in the background.


Web Links of Interest:

The Wry Romance of the Literary Rectory by Deborah Alun-Jones

The Official Site of the renowned English crime writer Dorothy L Sayers

The Last Place God Made

In Search of St Paul’s Church Fenchurch St Paul

Dorothy L Sayers Cambridgeshire Connections

A Lake District Connection Norfolk

Now if you have a fancy for a trip to the Lake District, the last thing you want is to be sitting in a car heading in the direction of Norwich and Diss, but that is where we found ourselves on a hot sunny day in July. The destination was the small village of Forncett St. Peter, Norfolk.

 

If you think I have lost my bearings never mind my sense of direction you may well be right, but I do have an explanation in that the village of Forncett St. Peter has impeccable Lakeland connections. It is where Dorothy Wordsworth lived and worked for around six years and her brother the famous poet William visited while studying at Cambridge.

 

St. Peters Church, Forncett St Peter, Norfolk, England

St. Peters Church, Forncett St Peter, Norfolk, England

Cookson Memorial, The Wordsworth Connection, St. Peters Church, Forncett St Peter, Norfolk, England

Cookson Memorial, The Wordsworth Connection, St. Peters Church

 

The Gates to The Old Rectory, Forncett St. Peter, Norfolk, England


Useful Links:

Treasures of the Wordsworth Trust

Biography of Dorothy-Wordsworth

In Search of Wine, A Son Of Mary Queen of Scotts and Sweet Steenie

It is three years since we visited St Leonards Church in Apethorpe and found the remains of a Glass of full boded red on the magnificent Monument of Sir Anthony Mildmay. Now our thought at the time was that it was left by some compassionate soul, for Sir Anthony to enjoy on the anniversary of his departing.

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Glass of full boded red on the magnificent Monument of Sir Anthony Mildmay. St Leonards Church, Apethorpe, Northamptonshire, England.

So as the anniversary of Sir Anthony’s death on the 2nd September had come around again, we thought a visit was over due and perhaps we would find a refreshed glass ready for consumption.

It is always a pleasure to enter St Leonards Church but on this visit it was heightened with anticipation, would we meet the compassionate soul bottle in hand or find a crystal glass stained with red, unfortunately it was not to be so that begs the question, does this mean we have to buy our own?

A few years before Sir Anthony’s death if you were in the environs of Apethorpe you may have encountered James I and George Villiers out hunting at Apethorpe Place, what else they got up to I will leave to others to speculate but today you are more than likely to be run over by a SUV on its way to the Great North Road.


Usefull Information:

Apethorpe Palace House and Gardens