Coop House in Cumbria before Christmas

we are here

The tree is decorated, the presents have been bought and the cards have been written and posted. But there’s still shopping and cooking to be done and there are gifts to be wrapped so what better time could there be to take off for a 2 night pre-Christmas break, literally away-from-it-all, at a Landmark at Netherby in Cumbria – Coop House? Continue reading

Ancient Ireland [3] : Lismore

Other features of ancient Ireland are the stones – carvings and standing. We saw the carvings on the stones at Knowth but there are more carved stones scattered across the countryside. Or … maybe not scattered at all but strategically or symbolically placed monuments. There are wells dedicated to saints. There are ancient churches, cathedrals, monasteries and abbeys – the earliest religious foundations.

Some of these ancient sites I came across on my walks.

Lady Louisa’s Walk, Lismore

LL Walk Lismore

[Following description is from here.]

Lady Louisa’s walk is a gentle and picturesque walk which takes you, for the most part, on a woodland walk along the river bank. Continue reading

A Further Selection of Colchester Landmarks

There is, of course, more to Colchester than just recycled Roman bricks. Peake’s House is in the Dutch Quarter which was named after the Flemish weavers who settled here during the 16th century.

Heritage route

 Heritage Trail Route

St Helen’s (just a few steps from East Stockwell Street) was first recorded in 1097 but its history goes back to the 3rd century AD. It was founded by Empress Helena (St Helena is Colchester’s patron saint). She was the daughter of King Coel (of Old King Cole nursery rhyme fame) and mother of Emperor Constantine the Great who was born in Colchester.

St helen's Chapel

Since 2000 AD the chapel has been a Greek Orthodox parish church of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Inside the tiny church the walls are hung with icons to the various saints including Saint Helena and Saint Barbara.

Saint Barbara

Next to the chapel on one side is a former Quaker burial ground and on the other a line of black bricks leads slightly uphill to a window through which you can see some of the remains of a vast Roman theatre that had been capable of seating 3,500 people. A mural on the wall shows an artist’s impression of the theatre when it was in use.

Theatre and reflection

The Roman Theatre Foundations – a Reflections of the Street

Roman theatre

Plan of the Roman Theatre superimposed onto a modern street map

Nearby, on West Stockwell Street, is the former home of Jane and Ann Taylor who were famous for writing verse. Jane Taylor wrote the nursery rhyme ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ in 1806.

Twinkle house

Home of Jane and Ann Taylor

about taylors

We read about the Taylors in Colchester Museum

Twinkle twinkle

Colchester Town Hall on the High Street has an impressive tower designed by John Belcher and opened in 1902. It rises 50m above the street and is surmounted by a statue of St Helena and other historical figures connected with Colchester including Queen Boudicea of the Iceni. She led a rebellion against the Romans in 60 AD.

Town Hall

Colchester Town Hall

We sought out Tymperleys the former home of Dr William Gilberd a scientist and physician to Queen Elizabeth I. It’s now a tea room and until very recently had housed a large collection of Colchester-made clocks. Bernard Mason who had collected the clocks and lived at Tymperleys left the entire collection and the house to the borough. Now only a very small selection may be seen in the Colchester Museum.

Tymperleys

Tymperleys

You can’t miss Jumbo! It’s a huge brick water tower built in 1882 and named for a famous elephant at London Zoo. The Rev John Irvine who lived in his rectory on the site of the present Mercury Theatre was not happy about the giant structure erected at the bottom of his garden and described the monstrosity as a Jumbo. The name stuck and the builders added a brass elephant to the weathervane as a reminder to the unhappy clergyman.

Jumbo and theatre Balkerne

Jumbo and the Mercury Theatre seen through Balkerne Gate

In addition to the Heritage Trail we also followed the Town to Sea Trail : Colchester and its historic port, the Hythe. “A unique art trail, designed for walkers and cyclists, follows the tidal River Colne through some lesser known areas of Colchester”.  We followed the whole of the 2 mile trail from its start at firstsite, an arts centre near the castle, to the end at the Hythe, a mixture of deserted or renovated quayside warehouses and modern out of town flats and shopping centre. We had a coffee in B&Q at Colne Causeway.

Firstsight

firstsite

oyster shells

oysters

Information Board : Colchester Oysters are the best!

R Colne in its heyday

The River Colne in its Heyday

The Hythe

The Hythe today

Tidal river colne today

The Tidal River Colne Today

The highlight of the walk, but on a slight detour, was the Church of St Leonard at the Hythe; preserved by the Churches Conservation Trust its opening hours are limited but we were lucky again.

St leonard

St Leonard-at-the-Hythe

Interior

Interior : Early 20th Century Wall Paintings above the Arch once covered the whole Church

Windows St leon.

Early 20th Century Stained Glass : Sts Osyth, Helena and Ethelburga

Door musket holes

The Medieval door of this old port church still bears the holes made by troops to put muskets through during the English Civil War.

“Perhaps it is little known that Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star actually consists of 5 verses, with the fifth verse rarely sung. Here’s the complete 5 verses, taken from the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (2nd edition, 1997), with the repetition of the first two lines added to fit the melody.” [source]

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
****
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
****
Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
****
In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
****
As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark,—
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

Walking in East Sussex

The main aim of my stay in Sussex was to meet up with two Swiss friends. Last year when I was staying with Barbara in Bern for the weekend the idea of visiting Charleston and all those ‘Bloomsbury’ related places in Sussex was suggested. I said I’d also wanted to visit them and showed Barbara the Landmark Trust website. When she saw Laughton Place tower she would not be budged to look elsewhere for accommodation. So we ended up last weekend in the tower and visiting as many Bloomsbury locations as we could manage.

Alfriston Church

Alfriston Church and Village Sign

Badgers

Badgers Alfriston (Note the Boot Bags – it’s on the route of the South Downs Way)

Barbara and Kathryn first wanted to have a few days in London so I spent the first two nights at Laughton Place on my own. But for the most part I wasn’t alone thanks to Fran being able to spend Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday with me.

Seven Sisters Info

Knowing my love of hiking she had planned a walking expedition for us but the weather was not kind on the Wednesday morning so we took lunch in Alfriston and drove later in the afternoon to the Seven Sisters Country Park car park, donned our boots and set off on a shorter walk following the River Cuckmere to where it joins the English Channel. At the sea’s edge you have a wonderful view of The Seven Sisters cliffs over which we might have walked part of the South Downs Way had the morning’s weather been different.

Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters (looking east)

Looking west at 7 sisters

Looking west

Sign and River

River Cuckmere behind the Footpath Signpost

River Cuckmere

River Cuckmere with Ox Bow Lakes, Meanders and the English Channel

Meanders and Buttercups

Meanders and Buttercups

Thank you, Fran, for your good company and for being the most informative guide possible!

Firle

The Village of Firle nestled below the South Downs

On Sunday Barbara, Kathryn and I drove to the car park above the village of Firle and walked a mile or so each way to Firle Beacon and back. At the Beacon (an Ordnance Survey Triangulation Point) we could see the Channel and a cross-channel ferry arriving at Newhaven in one direction and the flat levels and meadows that surround Laughton Place in the other. There right in front of us but a little distant was our Tower itself.

On South Downs

Sunday Morning on the South Downs

After our walk we headed down into Firle village. Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant (see future posts about ‘Bloomsbury-on-Sea) are buried in the churchyard; Virginia and Leonard Woolf had a house in Firle before they moved to Monk’s House and we had a drink in the warm sunshine at The Ram Inn.

Firle churchyard

Firle Churchyard : Graves of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell

LT Firle

Little Talland

Little Talland House, Firle

I also managed to fit in a short walk directly from the Tower towards Laughton village but I never quite made it. I was anxious to see the village but had the time constraint of meeting the London train too so after a mile or so I turned back and drove to Laughton (the village of the buckle).

Bridge Stile

Complicated Bridge/Stile near Laughton Place

LP from footpath

Laughton Place in its Landscape