Tag Archives: The Great River Ouse

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

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

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


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.

Cambs-Churches

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

Cambs-Churches

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.?

Cambs-Churches

St Wendreda’s Church, March, Cambridgeshire.


Potto Brown, Houghton Mill and A Friendly Cat, Houghton Cambridgeshire

Potto Brown was Born in Houghton Cambridgeshire in 1797 he took over the running of Houghton Mill on his father’s retirement in 1822.

He was responsible for building the mill and contributing to the cost of building the Free Church in nearby St Ives. He build the small chapel in Houghton where his grave can been seen to this day, he died in 1871 and was laid to rest beside his mother and his two previous wives.

Potto Brown

While taking the air‚ as they say in Jane Austen novels, around Houghton Mill on The River Great Ouse, Huntingdonshire,

Chasing Shadows

Chasing Shadows

This splendid sleek gentleman made friends with the camera and I on a crisp bright January morning making chasing shadows irresistible.

Village Sign Houghton and Wyton