To Garden, Not to Garden Or Visit Houghton and Wyton.

As you leave St Ives Cambridgeshire to the west heading to Huntingdon, you may or may not notice the village sign of Houghton and Wyton, it can be easily missed especially if your mind is on horticultural matters and are making a beeline for what used to be Huntingdon Garden centre a few Yards (Old English Money) further along the road.

The sign is much more memorable than it once was a few years ago when it was faded by the ravages of time.

The Village Sign, Before its Transformation

The Village Sign, After The Transformation

Anyone who knows me will know that gardening is neither a passion nor an interest and I would recommended turning left and taking the time to visit Houghton and Wyton and I am sure you will not be disappointed, you can always go for gardening supplies latter.

Related Web Links:

Houghton Mill, The National Trust

The Day I Heard Gerry Rafferty Had Died

I remember the visit to Old Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire to this day for many reasons, it was early January 2011, a bright sunny day when we found ourselves entering the village after what appeared to be heading the car in the direction of infinity and beyond for a long, long time, although Old Bolingbroke sits only a few miles west of Spilsby.

Bolingbroke is steeped in history with its ancient monument Bolingbroke Castle the birth place of John O Gaunt’s son Henry Bolingbroke the future King Henry IV. It also played its part in the First English Civil War. In 1652 the towers and walls where destroyed by dumping them into the moat to stop it being used in any further military conflicts.

Bolingbroke Castle Walls, Lincolnshire
Bolingbroke Castle Walls, Lincolnshire
Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire
Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire

While wandering around the church of St Peter and St Pauls which was built by John O Gaunt in or around 1363 and which had unfortunately suffered at the hands of Oliver Cromwell and his friends in 1643.

St Peter and St Pauls Church, Bolingbroke, Lincolnshire
St Peter and St Pauls Church, Bolingbroke, Lincolnshire

We happened to meet a gentleman passing our way, entering into a conversation as you do when strangers pass the time of day,

what a lovely day it was for the time of year, your accent is not from this part of the world, where are you from, Edinburgh or Glasgow? is it not really sad to hear of the death of Gerry Rafferty

Its moments like those that turn a pleasant visit into a memorable one.

Information Board, Bolingbroke, Lincolnshire
Information Board, Bolingbroke, Lincolnshire

Once Upon A Time On A Different Universe

Once upon a time on a different universe I used to travel regularly from Bury St Edmunds to Beccles and Lowestoft on the A143.

Somewhere in my subconscious I remembered passing through the villages of Rickinghall (Rickinghall Superior, Rickinghall Inferior) and Botesdale a long time before they were bypassed, although I was unaware at the time they were two separate entities in their own historical right as they just flow one into the other as you pass them by.

When we had the opportunity to stop and stare I made the same mistake filing all the snaps taken under Botesdale.

Perhaps the lesson is Google before you go not after or pay more attention during your visit.

Botesdale Village Sign showing:

  • The Mill, there were six at one time unfortunately none of them have survived
  • The coach and horses, they used stop at The Crown Inn (closed since around 1920) when it was on a main coaching route
  • St Botolph, patron saint of wayfarers, he died in 680 and  his remains where divided in three, the head taken to Ely, the middle to Thorney, and the remainder Westminster Abbey.

St Botolph’s Chapel, Botesdale, Suffolk.

St Marys Church Rickinghall Inferior, Suffolk.

If you desire more details as always it is worth visiting Simon Knott’s web site:

Other Related Links:

A Grisly Murder, A Contemporary Band and An Irish Architect

The Chinese Bridge, Godmanchester,

How do you connect a grisly murder in 1819 with the musical band The Howl and The Hum and an Irish Architect who came to build a prison but ended up building an iconic bridge across the Mill Stream of the Great River Ouse in 1827.

Godmanchester in Huntingdonshire

In the church yard of St Mary the Virgin lies the last resting place of Mary Anne Weems who was murdered by her husband at the age of 21 in 1819, the story of her demise and the fate of her husband is well documented, below is an example of just two:

There is a lengthy description of the incident on the back of Mary’s headstone, “A warning to us all”   

Th Band The Hull and The Hum released an Album in 2017 called Godmanchester Chinese Bridge with a song of the same name as the titled track.

James Gallier, designed and constructed the iconic Chinese Bridge which crosses the Mill Stream of the Great River Ouse in 1827. He was born James Gallagher in Ireland in July 1798, in a lot of respects his life was tinged with sadness, he died along with his second wife in a hurricane in October 1866 while traveling between New Orleans and New York on the Paddle Steamer the Evening Star it sank in the storm. This is an interesting story in its own right.

Commemoration Stone, The Chinese Bridge, Godmanchester,

From St. Michael the Archangel Church Booton Nearly, to St. Peter and St. Paul’s Salle, Norfolk

It was a rather cloudy start to the day but we thought it was about time to make an other attempt to find and visit St Michael the Archangel Church, Booton in Norfolk.

This time I took all the precautions I could think of and programmed the satellite navigation carefully entering GPS coordinates .

I thought this would be a full proof approach as the last time we just headed out and hoped for the best that it would be all plain sailing with a good sense of direction and a little logic.

Now it all went wrong this time around 3 miles from our destination where we encountered a large red notice advising that the road ahead was closed and to follow the diversion signs, so off we went but between the Sat Nav and the yellow diversion signs we found our selves going around in what appeared to be ever decreasing circles. As we entered Reepham for the hundredth time I thought we should not take the Bruce’s advice and try again but rather than give up head for St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Salle.

Now to get to St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Salle you do not need GPS as the tower is visible as you leave Reepham. It is a church of superlatives and it never disappoints there is even a tradition that Anne Boylan was buried in the church after she has been beheaded at the Tower of London and secretly exhumed from St Peter ad Vincula chapel London.

AND YES we will try and visit St Michael the Archangel Church, Booton an other day!

Salle Village Sign, Salle, Norfolk

Salle Village Sign

St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Salle, Norfolk

St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Salle

St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Salle, Norfolk

St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Salle

St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Salle, Norfolk

St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Salle

Relevant Web Links:

Norfolk Churches

Haunted Palace Blog

The Anne Boleyn Files

Echos of Kent Treble Bob Majors and Terrington St Johns

The village of Terrington St Johns, Norfolk sits between Wisbech in the west and Kings Lynn in the east. Its splendid St John’s Parish Church lies to the north of the village at Peyke’s Cross.

St John The Baptist Church, Terrington St Johns

St John The Baptist Church

I have never seen any reference that links it to the novel by Dorothy. L. Sayers, The Nine Taylors unlike its near neighbour Terrington St Clements, but during a recent visit I was reminded of The Reverend Venables vaulting ambition by a plaque in the church commemorating a peel of bells, although Theodore Venables and his ringers had eight Bells at their disposal where the church at Terrington St Johns has six.

Memorial Plaque Peal of Bells, Terrington St John

Memorial Plaque

“There are, perhaps, a few heavier rings, said the Rector, but I hardly know where you would rival us for fullness and sweetness of tone. Number seven, in particular, is a most noble old bell, and so is the tenor, and the John and Jericho bells are also remarkably fine in fact, the whole ring is most “tuneable and sound”, as the old motto has it.

“It is a full ring of eight”

The Reverend Venables to Lord Peter Wimsey

The Nine Tailors

By Dorothy L. Sayers

Cowlinge, Suffolk

Cowlinge in The County of Suffolk, a few miles south east of Newmarket and a stones throw from the Cambridgeshire border. It is blessed with a fine Public House and once upon a time there was a splendid country house and estate landscaped by Capability Brown, the manor and lands were acquired by the London Lawyer Francis Dickins in 1720 who set about building a new house and was also responsible for the tower on the church of St Margaret of Antioch.

When Francis’s died in 1747 the manor passed to his wife until her death in 1761, the estate then passed to a cousin, Ambrose Dickins who was responsible for hiring Capability Brown which was not without its controversy.

If you are looking for the house that Francis built you will be disappointment as it was demolished around 1959 but you can fined Francis and his wife in all there Scheemakers glory in the chancel of St Margaret of Antioch.

Cowlinge_Suffolk-St Margaret of Antioch-01732-Edit

Peter Scheemakers Memoral of Francis Dickins and His Wife Rachel

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk
The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk in the foreground the graves of two Cowlinge soldiers who lost their live in the Great War 

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk

The Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Cowlinge, Suffolk

Interesting Web Links:

Cowlinge One Suffolk

The Three Ways Pub

Lost Heritage Branches Park

Parks and Gardens Branches

Peter Scheemakers

Suffolk Churches Cowlinge

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.


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


Ouse Washes Mepal Pumping Stations

The Rhythm of A Feeding Bird

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.