Category Archives: Literary Connections

Aldwincle Northamptonshire Revisited

In a time gone by there were two Aldwincle Parishes, Aldwincle St Peters and Aldwincle All Saints they were joined together in November 1879.

Aldwincle Village Sign

Aldwincle Village Sign Northamptonshire

To all appearances it is St Peters that is now the center of village life as All Saints sits a world apart opposte Dryden house on the way to Thorpe Waterville across  Harper’s Brook and over the Nene river by Brancey Bridge.

All Saints Church Aldwincle Northamptonshire

John Dryden poet, playwright and critic was born in the house that sits in the shadow of church on the 9 August 1631. Dryden House Aldwincle Northamptonshire

Dryden House Aldwincle Northamptonshire

Son of Erasmas Dryden and Mary Pickering of Titchmarsh he was Christened in the Church of All Saints where his grandfather Henry Pickering was Rector were there is a tablet commemorating the event.

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Church Commemorative Tablet

All Saints Church is now in the care of The Church Conservation Trust as it is no longer needed for regular worship but remains as consecrated buildings and is of historical importance, it is a delight to walk round and has always been open when ever we have visited.

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All Saints Church Striking Interior

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All Saints Church Stained Glass Window

Samuel Johnson summed up the general attitude to John Dryden with his remark that

 “the veneration with which his name is pronounced by every cultivator of English literature,

 is paid to him as he refined the language, improved the sentiments,

and tuned the numbers of English poetry.”

and tuned the numbers of English poetry.”

And T. S. Eliot wrote that he was

‘the ancestor of nearly all that is best in the poetry of the eighteenth century’,

and that ‘we cannot fully enjoy or rightly estimate a hundred years of English poetry

unless we fully enjoy Dryden.’


Honington and Sapiston: In Search of Robert Bloomfield

If you mention the name of Honington in Suffolk I would imagine that it is the RAF base that springs to mind and not the birthplace of a sadly neglected Romantic poet.

Honington lies to the North East of Bury St Edmunds and the South East of Thetford the birth place of Thomas Paine the author of the Rights of Man.

Although it is Honington Raf base which is most famous, the village which it takes it name from lies about a mile to the west of The RAF Base.

Robert Bloomfield the author of A Farmers Boy which was a publishing sensation was born here on the 3rd December 1766 he was educated by his mother who run the village school until he was a eleven when he was sent to work on his Uncle William Austen’s farm across the river Blackbourn in Sapiston.

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NEGLECTED now the early daisy lies:

Nor thou, pale primrose, bloom’st the only prize:

Advancing SPRING profusely spreads abroad

Flow’rs of all hues, with sweetest fragrance stor’d;

Where’er she treads, LOVE gladdens every plain,

Delight on tiptoe bears her lucid train;

Sweet Hope with conscious brow before her flies,

Anticipating wealth from Summer skies;

All Nature feels her renovating sway;

The sheep-fed pasture, and the meadow gay;

And trees, and shrubs, no longer budding seen,

Display the new-grown branch of lighter green;

On airy downs the shepherd idling lies,

And sees to-morrow in the marbled skies.

From A Farmers Boy, Spring by Robert Bloomfield


In The Footsteps of The Good Doctor

Langton by Spilsby Lincolnshire Wolds.

Langton by Spilsby Lincolnshire Wold

“Early in 1764 Dr Samuel Johnson paid a visit to the Langton Family, at their seat of Langton, in Lincolnshire, where he passed some time, much to his satisfaction.”

Quoted from The Life Of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell

Although Langton Hall in Langton by Spilsby in Lincolnshire no longer stands the church of St Peter and St Paul and its environs are a delight to explore and if you feel energetic you can emulate the good doctor and roll down the sheep walks.

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Dr Johnson is said to have visited The church of St Peter and St Paul while visiting his good friend Bennet Langton a founder member of the literary club.

The present church was erected by Bennett’s grandfather George in 1725, when the great man of letters visited the roof would have been covered in lead unlike today, it is said that the lead was removed to be turned into bulletts for use in the Napoleonic Wars.

“War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen circumstances that no human wisdom can calculate the end; it has but one thing certain, and that is to increase taxes.”

Thomas Paine

St Peter and St Paul Church

The setting and the exterior of the church building is extremely charming but it is when you enter that you experience the full impact and appreciate why it has gained its reputation with the great and good.

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Maxey Mill Cambridgeshire

John Clare the Northampton Peasant Poet would walk the two miles from Helpston to Maxey at least once a week while he was working for Francis Gergory a bachelor who lived with his Mother, they were the Clare’s next door neighbour running the Blue Bell public house in Helpston.

John writes in, Sketches in The Life of John Clare, “that he would go once every week to Maxey a village 2 miles distant for a bag of flour as it was sold cheaper than at home and as his mistress was an economist she never lost sight of a cheap pennyworths”.

He also maintains in his Autobiographical Fragments that one of his worsts labours was the journey in winter afternoons to fetch flour as he had to pass places on his return when it was often getting dark, where it was said to be haunted by ghosts and hobgoblins.

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Marholm Cambridgeshire

St Marys The Virgin Church Marholm is set on the outskirts of the village on the road to Milton Hall and Castor. It is the last resting place of the Fitzwilliam Family.

St Marys The Virgin Church Marholm

St Marys The Virgin Church Marholm

To reach Marholm Church you first have to pass The Fitzwilliam Arms with its welcoming presence, taking the road which leads to Milton Hall the home of the Earls Fitzwilliam.

The Fitzwilliam Arms
Village Sign and 
Just outside the village boundary you will find an entrance into a field where St. Mary’s The Virgin Church sits in all its isolation.

The church is the last resting place of The Fitzwilliam family, the 5th Earl Charles William Wentworth (1868-1857) who was a patron of JOHN CLARE, who’s mother and father were married in this church .

John Clare‛s mother Ann Stimson was Parker Clare’s senior by eight years, Ann was aged 35 when she married Parker, her parents where John (Town Shepherd) and Elizabeth who were from nearby Castor.

Fitzwilliam Resting Place

The headstone with the crest under the tree belongs to William Thomas George Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, the 10th Earl Fitzwilliam (1904—1979) he was last to hold the title.


Dorothy L Sayers Cambridgeshire Connections

Bluntisham

This was the home of Dorothy L Sayers writer and creator of the aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey.

St Marys Church Bluntisham

St Marys Church, Bluntisham, Cambridgeshire

Her father was rector of St Marys Church Bluntisham between 1897 and 1917 before moving to the Parish Church in Christchurch.

He was responsible for the partial restoration and expansion to a ring of eight bells in 1910 which was only completed in 2004 when the bells were rehung in a new iron frame. This made a full circle ringing possible for the first time for 160 years. Perhaps an inspiration for his daughter’s novel The Nine Tailors.

St Mary's Church, Bluntisham, Across The Flooded Great River Ouse.

St Marys Church, Bluntisham, Across The Flooded Great River Ouse. Cambridgeshire

It is said that the names of some of her characters in The Nine Taylors were inspired by the stone masons inscriptions in Bluntisham Churchyard a walk through the long grass failed to discover a H. Gotobed or an Ezra Wilderspin, but when all hope was almost lost we stumbled on a Thoday, a pity that it was not a William or James or even a Mary.

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Grave Stone, St Marys Church, Bluntisham, Cambridgeshire

Christchurch

Christchurch Village Sign

Christchurch Village Sign, Cambridgeshire, England

The Christ Church, Christchurch,

The Christ Church, Christchurch, Cambridgeshire, England

Henry and Helen Sayers moved from Bluntisham to Christchurch in 1917 and was rector there until his death in 1928.

Dorothy L Sayers it is said preferred Bluntisham, but was a frequent visitor to her parents home in Christchurch. She is said to have stated; “Christchurch is the last place God made, and when He’d finished he found He’d Forgotten the staircase!”

Henry Sayers photograph can still be seen in the vestry, the commemorative tablet to the couple was placed by parishioners at on the west end of the nave. They are buried in a grave on the north east side of the churchyard which was originally unmarked but their last resting place is now celebrated by a marble stone bearing their names.

March

St Wendra Church is situated on the outskirts of the fenland market town of March. Now surrounded by housing mainly of the modern variety, but this does not detract from the experience of crossing the threshold and encountering the heavenly angles suspended in all their glory.

Saint Wendreda's Church, March,

St Wendreda’s Church, March, Cambridgeshire.

They are justifiably world famous and have been admired by many, notably Sir John Betjeman and Dorothy L Sayers .

St Wendreda's Church

Angle Roof, St Wendreda’s Church, March, Cambridgeshire

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Angle Roof, St Wendreda’s Church, March, Cambridgeshire

Miss Sayers has Mrs Venables the rectors wife in The Lord Peter Wimsey novel The Nine Tailors compare the hummer beamed angle roof in Fenchurch St Pauls with those of Needham Market and March

“of course the angel roof is our great showpiece, I think myself it is lovelier than the ones in March and Needham Market”.

We did try to make our own comparison by visiting the church in Needham Market, Suffolk but found it locked with no indication who held a key, perhaps we may try an other day.?

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St Wendreda’s Church, March, Cambridgeshire.


LAURENCE STERNE Coxwold North Yorkshire

LAURENCE STERNE was born on November the 24th 1713 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland and died in London on March the 18th 1768, he was 52.

Thirsk Bank

He was the author of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman which is widely considered the first postmodernist novel, well ahead of its times and a true forerunner to his fellow countryman James Joyce. He also was the author of A Sentimental Journey.

Rev Laurence Sterne

He was Vicar of the North Yorkshire village of Coxwold for eight years were he was laid to rest in 1969 when his body was exhumed when his London resting place St George’s, Hanover Square was sold for redevelopment.

“I am persuaded that every time a man smiles – but much more so when he laughs – it adds something to this fragment of life.”
Rev. Laurence Sterne

“But this is neither here nor there why do I mention it? Ask my pen, it governs me, I govern not it.”
Rev. Laurence Sterne

St Michael's Church