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

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