Tag: grave

Visiting Winston

While doing the navigation for Oxford I realised that it was not too difficult to visit the grave of Sir Winston Churchill in Bladon. He is buried in the churchyard of the Parish Church of St Martin in Bladon (Google Earth co-ordinates 51.830287°, -1.349588°) and the closest station to the church is Hanborough which co-incidentally is the stop before Oxford. By my estimates it was about a 1,8 km walk and I could do a round trip to the grave in 2 hours. The problem was: the trains to Oxford and back only run one per hour and they are typically 25 minutes apart. I could bail at Hanborough, do my graving and head back to Evesham, or I could continue onwards to Oxford depending in the time. It was something that I would only be able to decide when I was there.

I decided to do the trip on the 24th and it was a stinker of a day, with temps of 29 degrees and upwards. I caught my usual train and it was reasonably full, and got even worse when we arrived at Hanborough at 10.11.

Hanborough Station

I was hoping that there would be a taxi at the station but I was out of luck and I would have to hoof it. Fortunately there is a pavement so I did not need to do any bundu bashing.

Roughly at the midpoint the road crosses the River Evenlode and runs parallel with the River Glyme too although you cannot see the latter.  The Evenlode was originally called the Bladene and the village is named after it, although it appears in the Domesday Book as Blade.

River Evenlode

And then I started to approach houses, and in the distance the spire of the church showed me the way.

The church is on a rise with a steep path leading from the road. A lychgate is at the entrance to the church grounds.

and there she is. The Parish Church of St Martin, Bladon.

The Churchill family plot is on the other side of the church and there are quite a few members of the family buried in the plot (you can actually see it on Google Earth).

Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace in 1874. Grandson of the 7th Duke, he was also a close friend of the 9th Duke and Duchess. Winston spent a considerable amount of time at the Palace throughout his life and proposed to his wife Clementine in the Temple of Diana at the palace. Both are buried in the family plot below.

And the grave of Sir Winston Churchill. 

Unfortunately there were other people at the plot and I wondered around waiting for them to leave. The churchyard is quite large but legibility of the graves is very poor. I did not really hunt down any military graves, but just walked through the burial area before returning to the plot which was still not cleared of people.  

I was thinking on the train about how I would feel about seeing this grave, I am somewhat of a fan of Sir Winston for his actions during the Blitz, but am no fan of his disastrous Gallipoli campaign  in the First World War. He was also not very popular with Afrikaners for his participation and capture in the Anglo Boer War, but then they hate anything English anyway. As it turns out I did not spend time at the grave as time was my real deciding factor. The church was open for visitors and I strolled inside, only to be confronted by the same people. The organist was also busy playing although he did seem to hit a few wrong notes.

The present building appears to have been considered around 1802 when the Bishop of Oxford was petitioned by the villagers of Bladon to grant them a new church as the old one was dilapidated and falling down. The new church was opened in 1804 and the building materials were paid for by the fourth Duke of Marlborough. It was extensively reconstructed in 1891 and the lychgate was built in 1893.

There is a small display about the burial and life of Sir Winston, and it appears as if he had a very strong connection to the church. A stained glass window commemorates the 50th anniversary of his death and it was unveiled by the Duchess of Cornwall on 09 June 2015

And then it was time to leave as I needed to plan my return to the station and I still had at least a 25 minute walk ahead of me. 

In earlier year the village of Bladon was involved in glovemaking and the quarrying of stone, much of which was used in the construction of the buildings in Oxford, and nearby Blenheim Palace, the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough. Bladon does appear in the Domesday Book too.

  • Hundred: Wootton
  • County: Oxfordshire
  • Total population: 28 households (quite large).
  • Total tax assessed: 5 geld units (quite large)
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 5 geld units. Payments of 0.5 miscellaneous.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £6. Value to lord in 1086 £6.
  • Households: 8 villagers. 18 smallholders. 2 slaves.
  • Ploughland: 7 ploughlands (land for). 2 lord’s plough teams. 3 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 14 acres. Woodland 1 * 0.5 leagues. 2 mills, value 0.7.
  • Lord in 1086: Adam (son of Hubert).
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Bishop Odo of Bayeux.

(Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

I discovered the village War Memorial just past the church and quickly grabbed some pics of it while I could. 

and then a quick look to the left…

and a turn to the right and I was on my way again. 

I had 3 choices ahead of me. It was unlikely that I would make the 11:11 train to Oxford, but would be in time for the 11.33 train back to Evesham. I could also catch the 12.33 train back to Evesham and use the spare hour to look over the Oxford Bus Museum that was next to the station. (assuming it was open). However, as things turned out I arrived at the station at the same time as the 11.11 train so I decided to grab it and continue onwards to Oxford where we will continue our exploration of that great city. 

DRW © 2019. Created 23/08/2019. Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater

Updated: 26/08/2019 — 06:57

Holywell Cemetery

Holywell Cemetery is the first cemetery that I visited in Oxford and is one of two that are within what I call “walking distance” of the town centre. There was no real compelling reason to visit it either, but from a curiosity standpoint it was certainly a drawcard. It is situated at Google Earth co-ordinates 51.755681°,  -1.247123° and entrance is through a gate set back from St Cross Road.

There is not a lot to say about it though, so this post is really more of a photo essay than a long winded exploration of the place. The pics speak for themselves. 

It really is a jungle in there and it is done deliberately to encourage small wild and bird life in it. I am always in two minds about leaving a cemetery wild like this, but there is a certain beauty about it that is breathtaking. There is a small information board in the cemetery, although there we no leaflets available. I have split off the key and map from the board so as to see them easier. 

The only name that I recognise is that of James Blish, a Science Fiction author. I did not hunt down the grave though, the cemetery is way too overgrown to find anything in. 

The Friends of Holywell Cemetery was founded in 1987 to raise funds for the maintenance of the cemetery on land that was gifted by Merton College in 1847. The lodge was erected in 1850 and to be honest I really thought the building was derelict but there is somebody living in it. It is however very hemmed in by foliage and getting a complete image of it was almost impossible.

University dons dominate the burials here , and  last count there were 160 of them, including 32 Heads of Houses, but there is no barrier here between town and gown. Shopkeepers and tradespeople abound, with names which will be recognised by many Oxonians. 

I am not sure whether it is still in use, or when the last burial did take place but there were a quite a few newish headstones to be seen. Unfortunately some were buried amongst the undergrowth so I could not really investigate them too closely.

Next to the cemetery is is the St Cross church and it has quite a nice churchyard too. What is interesting about it is how high the churchyard is compared to the actual church building, indicating that the churchyard is very full. I did not photograph the church though, as it was in a very awkward  position.

The churchyard is not as overgrown as the cemetery, although that could be because it is situated on the street whereas the cemetery is not street facing. Which came first? I think the churchyard was here long before the cemetery.  

That more or less sums up Holywell. I did not spend too much time there but enjoyed it immensely. Its not too often that you encounter a beaut like this one, and without the mad rush of looking for specific graves it is easy to just enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this small haven away from the frenetic rush of the city.

Random Images

DRW © 2019. Created 01/07/20101

Updated: 09/09/2019 — 10:32

Gadding about in Gloucester

This “fine” Friday morning I took a days leave to attend to some business in Gloucester. It was a grey and overcast day and not really photography weather, but I always lug a camera along just in case I spot something of interest. My business took me to the Post Office in the city and it sits on the edge of a public square that is often used to hold a market in.

My business was done quite quickly which was a surprise considering that I read about these long queues and delays. Instead it was done professionally and courteously and there is no hope in hell that the post office in South Africa will ever be as “jacked” as the post offices I have encountered in the UK. 

On my way out the door I discovered a War Memorial in the one corner and was given permission to photograph it.  I have posted the memorials and name lists on allatsea

The memorial is cared for by the Royal Mail and it is the second War Memorial that I have seen in a post office in the UK.  There are 7 names from WW2 and  23 from WW1 on the plaques. 

Having made my first discovery for the day I was really at leisure. I had no real hard and fast plans but did want to go to the Old Cemetery and photograph some of the CWGC graves in it. My last visit had been more of a reconnoitre  than a serious gravehunting expedition and I have always hoped to get back to do a better job of photographing the graves. Unfortunately on my first expedition in 2015 had seen similar poor weather, so not much had changed. The area around the bus station was like a bombsite, as they are “improving” the existing facility (which isn’t all that much anyway, anything would be an a improvement). There is a bus that stops at the cemetery, but I had no idea where to catch it so decided to catch a taxi instead. The cemetery is roughly 2 km’s away depending on where you are coming from. Luckily I found a taxi by accident and was soon outside Gloucester Old Cemetery. The cemetery is on the Painswick Road in an area seemingly called Tredworth. It was opened in 1857, and now covers 35 acres. 

It is divided into two halves by the road,  All but a few of the 158 First World War graves are in the original ground, 81 of them in a war graves plot, known as ‘NG’ Ground. Of the 94 Second World War burials, 60 form a separate war graves plot known as ‘B’ ground. There are also 10 non World War service burials and 7 Foreign National burials here. (CWGC information on the cemetery)

The older part of the cemetery is where you will find the chapel. It is quite an attractive building but unfortunately it is fenced off. I do not know if it still in use as a chapel though. They seem to use it as a place to park the digger machinery.  

This part of the cemetery is bisected by a stream/culvert,

And the World War 1 plot and Cross of Sacrifice can be seen on the left side. The chapel would be behind me on the right. The strange thing about this part of the cemetery is how few headstones there are. However, that does not mean that it is all empty space, it is very likely that there are graves under all that grass. I headed towards the furtherest part of the cemetery and worked my way to the opposite end of it, photographing as I went. On my last visit I had really just captured a few headstones, and never really intended to return as images of the graves were not needed. However, I have created a community on Lives of the First World War  which is why I wanted the pics of the rest of the graves. 

By the time I arrived at the Cross of Sacrifice my shoes were squelching, the grass was sodden with dew and it would have been fun to walk this area when frost had fallen overnight because it freezes the grass and it makes a nice crunching noise as you walk. 

Once I had completed this half of the cemetery I crossed the stream/culvert into what is probably the oldest part of the cemetery and hunted down the graves in that area. There are not too many, but I am sure I missed some casualties that are on private memorials.  There are a number of really beautiful headstones in this cemetery, and here are some…

What always amazes me is how the weathering does affect the gravestones, and that is a major problem with the white CWGC headstones that are often badly discoloured. The two CWGC plot headstones were reasonably clean, but some of the scattered graves were in an appalling condition. 

Then it was time to hit the newer part of the cemetery, or I assume it is a newer part although there were some very old graves in it. It would be interesting to know how this cemetery developed, and I can’t help but think that at some point this was one big cemetery, although the area I was now heading to was laid out in a more ordered way and parts of it had a a lot of headstones. My guess is that this part of the cemetery may still be in limited regular use.  

The majority of new burials and cremations probably all happen at Coney Hill Cemetery which is not too far away. I had visited it last time around too, and it did not really leave much of an impression on me. 

The graves here are most WW2 graves although I did find a few WW1 graves up near the top of the cemetery. It is also where the other Cross of Sacrifice and associated WW2 graves are.  

I photographed them all and wove my way through the cemetery and photographed those familiar white headstones (although some are a strange shade of green). Overall there were not too many CWGC graves here, so I covered large areas without seeing much, naturally there would be a grave at the furtherest far corner of each cemetery and I always end up making that trek across the cemetery to photograph it.

And then I was finished for the day and was ready to head back to town. It was 11H55 by the time I reached the bus stop outside the cemetery, and the next bus was scheduled for 12H06, so I decided to hoof it instead. 

Or should I say squelch it instead? This is Tredworth Road and I intended following it to back to town.  That bridge in the image is the line to Bristol and quite a lot of trains hurtled over it. Naturally none would do that while I was watching.  

The area was mostly residential, with row houses on either side of the street. It is always interesting to see this style of housing because housing in the parts of South Africa where I grew up were totally different, and many of these older houses predate the founding of the city of Johannesburg!

 In the image below Stroud Road  feeds into Tredworth Road from the left, 

and I was now in Stroud Road. My first discovery was one of those beautiful Anglican Churches. 

This the Church of St Paul and St Stephen,  and it was consecrated by the Bishop of Gloucester, on 11th October 1883. It is in a beautiful condition and I was fortunate enough to be able to go inside, after I had photographed the War Memorial outside.

I could not get an image down the aisle as there were people talking in the centre, but the stained glass window behind the Altar is magnificent.

The War Memorial inside the church really comprised of two elements. A large plaque (as per the image) and a smaller wooden cross with the lists of names on either side. I really think the cross really detracted from the beauty of the plaque.

When I left the church I made one critical blunder, instead of turning right at the church I decided to go straight which took me towards the docks instead of the bus station where I wanted to be. However, it wasn’t too much of a problem because there were still areas of Gloucester that I have not seen.

And then I started to recognise a few places and knew where I was and could find the bus station (assuming it hadn’t moved since this morning). But, as I arrived at the turning my bus drove past me and I would have an hour to wait till the next one. The local Wetherspoons is close by so I headed across to it for lunch. This particular one is called “The Regal”  and it is housed in what I assume to be an old movie house or theatre.

While the food is good and the toilets are clean I always find ordering food a hit or miss affair. If it gets too busy at the bar you can end up starving. However, I persevered and after lunch I caught the bus home and by the time I hit Tewkesbury  I was bushed. Fortunately I had left my bike in town so did not have to face another long walk home, but when I finally got into the flat I realised how tired I really was. These extended outings are not a good idea, I am not able to handle them as well as before. 

I had achieved my goals, but the crappy weather really did not make for good photography, but I did remember that the likelihood of me returning to the old cemetery was small. And the same is true for Gloucester. Bristol is back in my sights again, but that will have to wait till the weather improves. 

The following blog posts from the past link to other visits that I made to Gloucester:

More random images (some from 2015)


DRW © 2018. Created 12/01/2018.  Some images of the cemetery are from 2015.

Updated: 04/03/2018 — 08:29
DR Walker © 2014 -2019. Images are copyright to DR Walker unless otherwise stated. Frontier Theme