Category Archives: Photo Journal

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

A Queens Demise Fotheringhay

The River Nene was running high and fast that day in January 2018 and the view from the bridge across the river to the site of Fotheringhay Castle was as fine as I have ever seen but as always there is a sadness at the thought of A Queens Demise here on the 8 February 1587.

That sadness seemed to be highlighted further as The Church of St Mary the Virgin and All Saints was shrouded in scaffolding .

The Site of Fotheringhay Castle

The Site of Fotheringhay Clastle across The River Nene, Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire

The Church of St Mary the Virgin and All Saints

The Church of St Mary the Virgin and All Saints, Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire

Memorial Wall Fotheringhay Castle

Memorial Wall, Fotheringhay Castle, Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire


Useful Links:

Execution at Fotheringay

Fotheringhay British History Online

“Villagers de luxe” Swaffham Prior

If you happened to be passing Swaffham Prior Cambridgeshire, lets say from Cambridge on your way to Newmarket in late 1958, you may have noticed a couple, walking sticks in hand supporting one another as they slowly progress up the slight incline from their cottage to the twin churches of St Mary’s and St Cyriac and St Julitta.

The couple are Edwin Muir, Orcadian, Poet, Critic and Translator and his wife Willa, Novelist, Translator and Essayist, they have been living in Priory Cottage, Swaffham Prior since August 1956 and this short occasional walk was all that Edwin could manage in what turned out to be the last few weeks of his life.

Willa describes their time in The Village of Swaffham Prior in Chapter 21 of her book Belonging.

Priory Cottage, Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire from The Church of St Cyriac and St Julitta

“From any outside angle the cottage looked attractive. It had a walled garden behind it, as well as a garage; its front door was on the main street of the Village and we walked straight into a spacious sitting-room, made out of two original small rooms which gave two different heights to the ceiling. Most old English cottages are cursed with very small rooms, and as soon as we walked into this large room we nodded to each other and said: “This is it.”

The front casement windows looked out on two parish churches, one on either side of a hill. The left-hand one had a dilapidated octagonal Norman tower, but its nave had been roofed over in the nineteenth century and except for the tower it was weatherproof. The right-hand one was in Perpendicular style; it had a fine tall belfry, quite whole, and a clock—face, but its nave was a ruined shell.”

From Belonging by Willa Muir

“One unexpected pleasure was added, the excellent peal of eight bells in the tower of the right-hand church opposite our cottage. When the Fens used to be flooded, the little hill was a place of refuge well above the waters, and the bells had sounded over the countryside as a guide.

They were such good bells that the champion bell-ringers of the district, in the neighbouring village of Burwell, used to spend a whole Saturday afternoon every now and then practising on them. We listened with delight to the intricate patterns they played, as the bells wove in and out; this was a new experience to us, for that art of bell-ringing is found only in England and we had never before lived beside a peal of such bells.”

From Belonging by Willa Muir

Now is that not reminiscent of Dorothy L Sayers Nine Taylors!

If you take the time to follow in their footsteps and continue along the path which winds past the Church of St Cyriac and St Julitta, (Willa’s Right Hand One) which is now under the care of The Churches Conservation Church you can exit the old graveyard through the top right hand corner gate and into the modern burial ground where today you will find the last resting place of Edwin and Willa Muir and perhaps “sit on the bench under a great round of sky.”

Edwin and Willa Muir’s Last Resting Place

Edwin and Willa Muir’s grave with the tower of St Cyriac and St Julitta in the background


Useful Links:

Edwin Muir

Willa Muir

The Last Place God Made

The Dun Cow, Christchurch

The Dun Cow, Christchurch, Cambridgeshire, Engalnd

The Dun Cow in Christchurch on the Cambridgeshire Norfolk boundary where the author Dorothy L Sayers Father was rector until his death in 1928. At one time there was a total of three pubs in the area but today the Dun Cow is the only one left to feed and water the hungry.

Dorothy’s description of Christchurch is to the point and says it all;
“Christchurch is the last place God made, and when He’d finished he found He’d Forgotten the staircase!”

I like the idea of Dorothy and her Husband Mac visiting her Mother and Father in Christchurch and on Sunday mornings attending church, as soon as the Reverend Sayers had pronounced the benediction Mac would be seen making his way to the Dun Cow public house.

Jane Austen, Bath, A Church In Rutland and A Line From Northanger Abbey

Now I must own up to being partial to a Jane Austen story, I have a preference for the written rather than the celluloid but that does not mean that I have not indulged in watching Amanda Root in Persuasion.

It still remains a favourite although Northanger Abbey with Peter Firth comes a close second, not because it is a purest version or is faithful to any preconceived notions of how a Jane Austen novel should be represented, it is simply because Bath features in all its splendour and secondly due to the final declaration by Mr Tilney to Mrs Moorland ,

“I promise not to oppress you with too much remorse or too much passion; but since you left us the white rose bush has died of grief.”

Yes I know it is not Jane Austen and therefore not in the novel but it does appeal to my sense of the romantic or some would say the ridiculous.

The pictures Below are of St Peters Church, Brooke in the county of Rutland it featured In the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice staring Keira Knightley as Miss Bennett.