Category Archives: Cambridgeshire

Keyston

The Church of St John the Baptist Keyston is a challenge,

  1. Getting there without setting tyre rubber on the A14.
  2. Taking a photograph that does the building justice.

Keyston lies on the very westerly edge of the county of Cambridgeshire or Huntingdonshire, if your preference is for the historic rather than the modern and are prepared to defy the 1974  Local Government edict.

It sits to the east of the town of Thrapston in Northamptonshire, which boasts connections with George Washington’s family, the first president of the United States of America  and west of Huntingdon the birth place of Oliver Cromwell.  In the North lies the village of Titchmarsh with all its associations  with the poet John Dryden and is with easy reach if you are prepared take your life in your hands and cross the A14 which carries its traffic incessantly between Felixstowe, the Midlands and beyond.

Our visit to Keyston in Huntingdonshire is purely of a metaphysical inspiration as John Donne, lawyer, renowned preacher, poet and soon to be become Dean of St Pauls Cathedral was awarded the living of Keyston  in the early part of 1616.  He held this post until 1621  when he resigned it shortly before he was appointed Dean of St Pauls.

The Church of St John the Baptist Keyston

The Church of St John the Baptist, Keyston, Huntingdonshire

“Thou hast set up many candlesticks, and kindled many lamps in me; but I have either blown them out, or carried them to guide me in forbidden ways.”

John Donne


Coveney Cambridgeshire

Coveney sits 43 feet above sea level overlooking Ely Cathedral in the east. It was a small island in the fens a long time before The Earl of Bedford and Cornelius Vermuyden ever dreamt of  draining  the Cambridgeshire Fens.

Mansion Farm House

Mansion Farm House

If the name of Coveney evokes a land fit for Lucifer’s Angles think again, it derives  its name from “island in the bay” and was once the home of Aethelswyth, daughter of the Noble Saxon Oswi, who came here with her maidens to work on her embroidery and weaving in the early 11 century.

The Village Sign , Showing a image of Aethelswyth

The Village Sign , Showing a image of Aethelswyth

The Church of St Peter ad Vincula dates back to the 13th century and its tower can be seen sitting proud as you approach the village from Wardy Hill in the north west. There is a village pond where you can sit on a summers day and take in the extensive views across the fens to Ely. Beside the pond is situated the village lockup, this was used in a time gone bye to store the village bier that carried the coffins to the Church. Mansion Farm House  which is the oldest house in the village lies just north of the church and it is said to have been built around the same time, there was a National School for both boys  and girls, the property is now used as a Bed and Breakfast.

The  Village Lockup and Seat Next to The Village Pound

The Village Lockup and Seat Next to The Village Pound

The celebrated, controversial, disputatious Dr. Conyers Middleton was rector of Coveney between 1725 and 1728, his first wife’s granddaughter was Elizabeth Montagu the British social reformer, who helped organize and lead the bluestocking Society, she was a frequent visitor to the Middletons in Cambridgeshire in younger days.

Views of The Church of St Peter ad Vincula

The Old National School House

The School House and The Old School


Related Web Links:

St Peter-ad-Vincula, Coveney

Cambridgeshire History Online Coveney

British History Online Coveney with Manea

Trinity College Chapel, Conyers Middleton

Elizabeth Montagu

The Old Scholl Bed and Breakfast


Wilburton, Cambridgeshire

Wilburton sits north of The Great River Ouse on the southern ridge of The Isle of Ely between Newmarket in the south east and Huntingdon in the west.

Ideal for Mr Collins and Charlotte.

It is true today as it was in the nineteenth century that it is “a very neat place.” In times past you would have found three public houses, a bakers, a butcher shop, a Blacksmiths and a Railway Station, today it boast a general store and post office, The Kings Head Public House, Two Motor Engineering Workshops and a Garden Centre which incorporates a Restaurant and coffee shop.

The Baptist Chapel was built in 1843 and has become a centre for village life in recent years. The Church of St Peters lies at the west end of the Village and is part of The Grunty Fen Parish of Churches, it is a fine edifice to the glory of God and it has to be said that we have always found it open when visiting.

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Wilburton is endowed with some very fine houses including the manor house which dates back to the sixteen hundreds.

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The History of the village is as rich as the fenland soil that surrounds it and has connections with the Kings of England. Between 1486 to 1500 Bishop Alcock of Ely was Lord of the Manor, He entertained King Henry VII and the young Prince Henry soon to be known for His many wife’s and The Dissolution of The Monasteries, when they came to visit the shrine of St Etheldreda at Ely.


Web Links:
Visit Ely: Wilburton
British History Online: Wilburton

The Crest of A Scottish Clan, A Peel of Bells, Lord Peter Winsey and The Art of Cation Writting.

Walking in the Cambridgeshire fens along the Ouse Washes between The Bedford Rivers is always a comfort to a weary soul and evocative of The Nine Taylors by Dorothy L Sayers especially when the washes are in full flood.

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With camera in hand it is always tempting to capture the wide open space, the large sky, reflections in the flood plain or Fortrey’s pumping station standing on Engine Bank against a cloudy sky.

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There are endless possibilities in the detail of the landscape like the bee seeking substance from the thistle on the bank of the hundred foot drain. The problem arises when trying to find a caption appropriate for the composition.

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Now as mentioned this is the land where Lord Peter Wimsey applies his analytic mind to discovering the location of the Wilbraham emeralds and the murderer of the butler Deacon but try as I may I can find no correlation to the thistle and the bee but if we take a leaf out of Lord Peter’s book and apply some meticulous reasoning, like the landscape itself there are endless possibilities.

Shakespeare’s Midsommer Nights Dream could be applied where Bottom states

Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your

weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped

humble-bee on the top of a thistle; and, good

mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret

yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and,

good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not;

I would be loath to have you overflown with a

honey-bag, signior. Where’s Mounsieur Mustardseed?

or we could turn to the poet Ted Hughes for The Thistle

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men

Thistles spike the summer air

And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

Not to mention Sylvia Plath for the bee or perhaps Emily Dickinson

and her poem entitled There is a Flower that Bees Prefer

There is a flower that Bees prefer —

And Butterflies — desire —

To gain the Purple Democrat

The Humming Bird — aspire —

And Whatsoever Insect pass —

A Honey bear away

Proportioned to his several dearth

And her — capacity —

Her face be rounder than the Moon

And ruddier than the Gown

Or Orchis in the Pasture —

Or Rhododendron — worn —

We could even use a quote or two from A A Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh due to his love of honey and his friend Eeyore’s passion for thistles.

If we were looking for a more modern example then A Single Thistle by Raymond A. Foss could be appropriate but as he reminds us, if we need reminding that the thistle is the flower of Scotland

therefore it has to be the motto and the crest of The Clan Fergusson as this uses both the bee and the thistle and also appeals to my Scottish roots.

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Title: dulcius ex asperis

Caption: A Bee on a Thistle

The crest of The Clan Fergusson

Their Motto: dulcius ex asperis (sweeter after difficulties).

Found living on The Ouse Washes, The Fens, Mepal, Cambridgeshire


Offord Cluny and D’Arch Cambridgeshire

Offord D’Archy and Offord Cluny makeup what is locally called The Offords.

Offord D'Arcy Village Sign

Offord D’Arcy Village Sign, Offord D’Arcy, Cambridgeshire, England

Although the two villages are only two miles apart they both have their own church and manor houses, the villages are fairly low lying and can be prone to flooding from The Great River Ouse, both are mentioned in the doomsday book.

Offord Cluny, Village Sign

Village Sign, Offord Cluny,, Cambridgeshire, England

The Offords sit between the eastern bank of The Great River Ouse and The Old North Road, Ermine Street before they make their way into Godmachester and Huntingdon beyond.

All Saints Church, Offord Cluny,

All Saints Church, Offord Cluny,, Cambridgeshire, England

St Peters church Offord D’Arcy has a 14th Century tower and spire it sits beside the manor house, to all appearance it is a peaceful situation until a fast train thunders past on it way to York and Edinburgh, in fact the main coast railway line runs very close to the west of the church tower.

St Peters Church, Offord D'Arcy

St Peters Church, Offord D’Arcy, Cambridgeshire, Engalnd


Wicken Cambridgeshire,

St Laurence Church, Wicken

St Laurence Church, Wicken, Cambridgeshire, England

Wicken is a village situated north of Cambridge south of Ely sitting between Stretham in the west, Fordham in the east and Newmarket in the south east. Its is known for its sausages and Wicken Fen which is managed by the National Trust, (the fen not the sausages).

The church of St Laurence is on the outskirts of the village to the west and is the last resting place of Henry Cromwell and his wife.

Henry was the fourth son of Oliver Cromwell, he retired first to Chippenham where his father in law was a MP on the restoration of Charles II. In his final years he acquired Spinney Abbey on the outside of Wicken.

There is a legend that says Charles Stuart visited Henry while horse racing at Newmarket but most historians say this is most unlikely. Henry Cromwell died in 1674 and there is a commeration slab in the church which belies the powerful man resting below.

St Laurence Church, Wicken

St Laurence Church, Wicken, Cambridgeshire, England

Views Near Wicken Cambridgeshire England

 


 

Wood Walton Cambridgeshire

Glorious Isolation St Andrews Church Wood Walton

St Andrews Church, Wood Walton,

St Andrews Church, Wood Walton, Cambridgeshire, Engalnd

St Andrews Church sits in glorious isolation over looking the main east coast railway line before it makes its way on to Peterborough and the frozen north beyond.

It is located about a mile outside the current village and access is first along a road going only to a small number of homesteads and then what only can be described as a field track through a five bar gate down to the church.

We have paid this church a visit on two seperate occasions, the first was on a sunny afternoon and to compliment its isolation we found the doors firmly locked and not a soul to be found.

The second visit found the builders hard at work carrying out restoration work and excessive repairs where damaged had been sustained due to thieves in the night indiscimitly filling there pockets and transit van, apparently nowhere was sacred as the broke into the vault below in the hope of finding lead from a previous century. The workman were friendly and more than happy to let us look around but it was sad to see it in such circumstances.

St Andrews Church, Wood Walton,

St Andrews Church, Wood Walton, Cambridgeshire


 

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.

Cambs


 

Tydd St Giles Cambridgeshire

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The separate Bell Tower of St Giles originally was part of the main building but it tumbled to the ground in the 18th century.

There has been two reasons given for this catastrophe, the first being that of strong winds combined with poor foundations. The second explanation which has such a gothic charm it makes you wish that it was true.

It is said that the peel and clammer of the bells so irritated Lucifer himself that he toppled the tower to the ground.

All credit must be given to Sir Gilbert Scott who undertook the rebuilding of the tower on it present site in 1880s, for his courage in putting right what Old Nick had destroyed.

Tydd St Giles Village Sign


 

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.