Month: March 2014

Random Churchyards: St Lawrence, Stratford Sub-Castle.

I have been meaning to visit St Lawrence for quite some time, but it is a bit of a long walk so have been able to blame the weather for not going there. On my trip to Old Sarum in February I was literally in stone throwing distance of the church, but could not quite spot what I was after, however I could probably find it now without too much trouble (as well as find the footpath that connects the two)
That’s Old Sarum in the distance, and it doesn’t seem that imposing from here, but its a different ballgame looking down on this area from the complex. But by the time St Lawrence was erected (1711), the church had moved to Salisbury Cathedral and the castle/fort had been abandoned. 
The church seen from old Sarum

The church seen from old Sarum

The church is quite a pretty one, although not too large and not too ornate. you could almost say it is a dead ringer for the typical English country church. The area around it is mostly farmland with some very impressive houses on the way. 
I had not done any homework on the CWGC graves at the church, I thought there were only a few, but it turns out that there are 49, and there is a Cross of Sacrifice.
Most of the burials are Australians who died in local hospitals during the First World War, and there are also two WWII burials too. 
The churchyard isn’t a big one, and by the looks of it is still in limited use. However, I expect there is more unseen than seen in this case, after all, the church dates back to 1711. Headstones are not too spectacular, and most of the older ones are not legible. 
The church was locked, although while I was there the bells tolled the hour, and the organ was playing, but I could not find any door that I could enter through as all were burglar barred. I was able to look through the windows but there wasn’t too much to see. 
It was a weakish sort of sunlight that filtered down on the landscape, and we were definitely heading towards Spring as there were quite  a few flowers on the footpath leading to the church.
While in front of the church there is a World War I Memorial, which could do with a but of restoration.
A last round of the churchyard and it was time for me to go. I am sorry I was not able to see inside the building, or to climb the tower, but maybe another time?
From a gravehunters perspective it was a bit of a disappointment, but from a war graves perspective it was a good find. Most of the graveyards I have visited in Salisbury have CWGC graves in them, although never on this scale. This is probably the third biggest CWGC plot in the city, and I am glad that I finally have it under my belt. 
Then it struck me that I have a long way to walk to get home, and I was not looking too forward to that. 
© DRW 2014-2018. Images recreated 17/04/2016

Random Churchyards: St Andrew Laverstock

A misheard name, and an informed resident. Voila! a new graveyard to visit. This one was in an area I had not explored before, so with the weather becoming increasingly more pleasant I dashed off to take a look around St Andrews in Laverstock.

 Like so many of these parish churches I have seen this one is beautiful, and it really fitted in with the warmish spring day we were having. I was very impressed by the tree on the right, it had a huge flat canopy, just a bit taller than I was and it was really pretty. I have no idea what sort of tree it is though, it is the first I have seen like this.

I chose to approach the graveyard from the right, (as I tend to do). and almost immediately came across an angel. Usually these are quite rare in a churchyard like this, but I am not complaining. This one is a beaut.


Of course angels are not the only highlight of a cemetery, although they do make for great images. Very close to this was a fenced off grave, the cross of which was inscribed “Make her to be numbered with thy Saints”, unfortunately a lot of the inscription on the grave is not legible due to vegetation, but it seems that this was the wife of an important clergy member.

Surprisingly there are five CWGC headstones in the graveyard, and unusually for me I managed to get them all! 


The graveyard isn’t very big and it is in regular use, but the newer headstones do seem to be a bit too regular in size and shape for my liking, although there are the odd older stones scattered amongst the newer.  

On the other side of the graveyard are the remains of the original church that stood at this site, it had been erected somewhere between 1080 and 1200. However, by the 1850’s the church was described as being “damp and ruinous” and it was demolished in 1857 and the current building was erected in its stead.
The current church still has a number of artefacts from this building although I was unable to go into it because a service was being held at the time. Interestingly enough, the outline of the old church and one of its walls still exists, and within the outline are a number of graves. 
while outside the church there were a number of graves too, although at the time the churchyard was probably much larger, but it is possible that the buildings next to the fence are now partly built on parts of the original churchyard. 
The church sports a pair of bells in its belfry and surprisingly these were tolling away, calling the faithful to get out of bed and get themselves across to church. Most of the parishioners that I saw were elderly, and I expect many had attended here since they were born.  Many of these parish churches see the a complete lifespan of an individual, and are really fixtures in their communities. This particular one has been around for over 150 years, and looks set to be around for another 150.
It was almost time for me to head off home, and I took a quick circuit around again, grabbing any other graves of interest. 
And then I was off home. Another churchyard under my belt. And a very pretty one it was too.  This used to be farming area, and judging by street names possibly there was a mill and a fishery close by, but the road I walked along to get here was called Church Lane, and I can see where that comes from.
 © DRW 2014-2018. Created 23 March 2014, images recreated 17/04/2016

I’m in the Bath. A visit to Bath (2)

Continuing where we left off,   we had now reached the roof of the spire, and it was really nice up there. Noticeably absent were the hordes of pigeons that you would expect to be in a place like this, but surprisingly the flying menace was absent and so was their detritus. The view is slightly obscured by the stone work but the city stretches around you in all directions.
In the view above you can see the small door in the left hand tower; that is where the first staircase terminates. The roof is sheet lead, but I do not know whether is this the original lead used in the building of the abbey.
Then it was down again, and we went back via the Bishops Balcony, where he could Lord it over the masses below (who were currently shopping their lungs out)
The building shrouded in netting on the left is the Roman Baths, where I was going to go after the Abbey. It was a wonderful building, and well worth the trip. What always amazes me about these buildings is the level of ornamentation that they achieved, and the sheer beauty of a place like it. But then I expect that the sheer awe of a church like this would often be be used to make the population aware of the power of the church. 
From churches to baths, and the Roman Baths were just next door. Again I am not going to play history teacher, that is why there is an official website. The place was crowded though, you would not think that so many people would be interested in a bath in the first place! But then Bath has always been associated with thermal springs. 


It is a fascinating place, but as far as I was concerned there were just too many people standing aimlessly around listening to their audio tours to fully be able to enjoy what I was seeing. The problem was that they tended to stand in front of everything so that nobody could actually see what the object of interest was. 
This is probably what the Temple and Spring and Bath complex looked like around the 4th century. It is amazing how many ruins have managed to survive the passage of time, and how much thought went into their design and construction. But then the Romans seemed to thrive on things like that. Today the building serves as a money spinner, and a fancy new version has been built close by, but it is hard to imagine the everyday Roman citizen in Bath popping along to the bath where I was standing now, so many centuries later. They left a rich heritage behind them, and people are still discovering it today.
My next destination was the Pulteney Bridge and the weir on the Avon River. Both are really magnificent, and would be spectacular at night.
The bridge was built between 1769 and 1774, and was built with the idea that people wanted to visit shops on a bridge. That was unfortunately not quite true, but the bridge has survived and is a very pretty structure.  Just downriver from it is the weir, which has an almost wormholish look about it. I cannot decide if it was built like this to look aesthetically good, or whether it is functionally more efficient. But then Hydrology was never my subject.
The river loops around the town, with the locks that I had seen earlier forming part of the Kennet and Avon Canal. The Avon is quite an important river and is worth reading about if you are that way inclined.
From here I headed to the Royal Crescent which was the furtherest point I would go to on this trip. I was starting to tire by now so the thought of heading home was a very attractive one.
By sheer accident I walked into the Bath War Memorial, and found the Crescent a bit further on. It is one of those strange visually impressive structures that you cannot quite fit into a photograph. The image below is a 1500×577 version which should help to show the immense size of the building
Leading off from the crescent is “The Circus” which is a series of 33 houses in 3 blocks built around a central island.  It is a very pretty place, but I would not like to see what the rental is like. It was completed in 1767, around about the same time as Royal Crescent was.
Why is it that modern architects are seemingly incapable of building something like this? I know in South Africa they are obsessed with faux “Tuscan Villas”. My photographs cannot do justice to something like this though, it is best seen to be believed.

Then it was time to head for the station and for home. The weather had been stunning after my cemetery visit, and I am just sorry that physically I was just not in the mood for any more sightseeing. However, there isn’t much stopping me from making a return visit, but this time I will skip the Bath in Bath.  That was my day, and a mighty day it was too. Bath was beautiful. I really enjoyed seeing it, and will definitely return, although the only water I will take will be in a bottle!

Some random images.

Inscribed “On this obelisk, erected in 1738, the original inscription read “In memory of honours conferr’d and in gratitude for benefits bestow’d in this city by His Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales and his royal Consort in the year MDCCXXXVIII this obelisk is erected by Richard Nash Esq.””


"Erected by the citizens of Bath in memory of Edward the Peacemaker"

“Erected by the citizens of Bath in memory of Edward the Peacemaker”

© DRW 2014-2018. Images recreated 17/04/2016