Category: Staffordshire

By the time you read this….

I will be Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. Yes, it is true, I am starting a new job on Wednesday. The last week in Staffordshire was kind of crazy and I had to make a decision in a hurry as to what I was going to do. The die however is cast and I am sitting in a loft thinking about what I have done.
 
I did have an interesting time in Staffordshire though, I saw many things, and many places, and visited many graves, There were four gems of cemeteries, (Ryecroft, Belgave, Key Hill and Warstone Lane) that I visited, and of course I also visited the cities of Birmingham.  and Lichfield
 
I do not know how long I will be where I am now, but hopefully I will be able to settle down and make something of my new situation. I expect there will be cemeteries to visit, and Worcester, Cheltenham and Gloucester are not too far away, and Bristol is also within range, Maybe you will soon be reading about my travels there soon.
 
So, do not despair, as they say in the classics… “I be bak!”
Updated: 03/05/2016 — 19:48

Pausing at Letocetum

On our way to Tewkesbury, we stopped over at Letocetum, which is one place I had meant to go visit, but had never gotten round to it.

Also known as “Wall Roman Site”, it is close to the city of Lichfield and it was an important military staging post, and posting station near the Roman military road to North Wales, and Icknield (or Ryknild) Street. Ryknield street is actually Watling Street, (the old A5), The road we parked on was the old A5. It has been double carriageway’d in the meantime and to make it a double carriageway it was diverted. The A5/Watling Street had a bend just to the east of Letocetum. Ryknield Street itself is in Lichfield, and would have extended towards Watling Street and formed a junction with it roughly at the point of that bend in Watling Street as mentioned above.

Like at so many other Roman sites scattered around Britain, there is a legacy of architecture and ruins left for us to ponder over. Although in the case of Letocetum, there is probably more not seen than what is visible.

Realistically these are merely foundations, although it is relatively easy to deduce the what the ruins may have been part of because if anything the Romans were predictable, they liked their comfort, they enjoyed their baths and they built to last. Two major structures were at this site, the Mansio and the bath complex. The bath complex is the building with the courtyard, it would have had a change room, heated room, an exercise area and probably a cold room, and a place where you could get a quick massage or possibly a meal while talking business with a friend.
The Mansio (or hotel) is the building across from the bath and it was where travelling officials or visitors could stay. (For a quick bath just go over the road).
This was a thriving community back then, a fort having been established close by in AD50 and probably abandoned near the end of the 3rd century; the bath-house and mansio being destroyed by fire.
It is strange to consider this small piece of Rome so far inland, the closest beach to Lichfield is over 70 miles away, and it must have been quite a journey to get here, especially in the days before highways, railways and modern vehicles.  I am sure the Roman in transit must have welcomed this small haven in a country that was not always as friendly towards them as they would have liked.
And while we were there, a child was attempting to do cartwheels on the grass, and I could not help but wonder if so many centuries before a Roman child was doing the same thing? That is the problem with ruins like this, it is hard to imagine them as being real places with real people living in them.
  
 
 
DRW ©  2015-2018. Images migrated 30/04/2016. Some images were taken from the information boards at the site. 
Updated: 22/03/2020 — 19:07

Finding the fallen: Belgrave Cemetery

My visit to Leicester meant that I could add yet another cemetery to my list, and see whether I could pick up more of the CWGC graves that needed photographing. I had 2 possibilities in mind, Belgrave or Welford cemeteries, Belgrave was the closest, although at the time I did lean towards Welford more as it seems to be the older of the two. I am however glad I did go to Belgrave, the first reason has to do with the railway experience that I had, and the second has to do with angels.
  
The cemetery is not a large one, which was a good thing because I had limited time to do what I had to. There are 49 CWGC recognised casualties in the cemetery, although on the notice board in the entrance it states that there are 90 killed in action named on family stones. That is probably the most PM’s I have ever seen in a cemetery. Interestingly enough there are 364 stillborns and  under two year olds buried here too.
 
The cemetery is divided into 5 distinct areas, with the B and C areas on a bit of an upwards slope.  There are also toilets! which is a bit odd seeing as they are in the centre of the cemetery. However, I wonder if that particular space was not where the demolished chapel used to be?
 
The War Memorial is not a complicated one, and if I had not walked past it I may have missed it.
 
The plaque simply reads: 
To Commemorate 
the Brave Men of Belgrave
Who Lost Their Lives
in Both World Wars
 
The memorial was placed in November 2008.
 The headstones are not in too bad a condition, and there is plenty of evidence that they do take a lot of care with the cemetery, the grass was cut and there was no litter or anything that detracted from the experience. Quite a few headstones have been toppled though, but I suspect that is from a safety aspect. There are a lot of of accidents caused by toppled headstones, and the legal and bad publicity ramifications can be large if a headstones falls on a child.
And then there are angels. Belgrave has seven distinct angels, 2 of which are truly spectacular and which I am reproducing here.
I have to admit that the first angel is really beautiful, my photographs do not do her justice. At one point I really felt as if she was looking at me, but that is probably because she is on a pedestal and looks down on everybody below her anyway.
I was able to cover the cemetery quite quickly, picking up the CWGC headstones as I found them and occasionally spotting a PM close by. It will be awhile before I sort my images though, so as yet I do not have a final tally of how many graves I found. But I do know there were a lot of very unique PM’s too.  There are over 15000 burials in the cemetery, and it has a friends society that looks after it.
 
It was a great little cemetery, one of those rare gems that are a pleasure to see, and of course, a pleasure to explore. As much as I would love to return here I probably will never get the opportunity, but, I am glad I did chose to visit, because at the end of the day this visit was full of surprises.  The final grave tally? 36 out of 49 CWGC found as well as 12 PM’s. Gee, it could have been many more, but that is for somebody else to complete.
 
 
© DRW 2015-2018.Images migrated 30/04/2016
 
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:42
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