Sheepish in the snow

There is snow outside again. Wow, we will write about this winter for a looooong time, or at least still spring or summer (assuming we have one).  Anyway, I went walkies again because frankly I love seeing the snow.  I never grew up with the phenomena when I was young, in fact the first real snow I saw was in the USA in 2000.  Gathering my winter woolies I headed out on a different route and looked for somewhere new. The sad irony is that from Mitton I could see hills in the distance but could not find a place to photograph them as there was no open area with a clear view. Unless otherwise noted all images are 800×600 when opened.

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My meandering took me to a part of Mitton I had not been in before and I really wanted to see whether I could find Mitton Manner which served as a military hospital from June 1915, until it closed in January 1919. It treated 1,188 sick and wounded soldiers, the first patients being a group of Belgian soldiers. Over that period, only three patients died, and those from the 1918 influenza epidemic. It was manned by the Gloucestershire Red Cross volunteers, who were almost entirely local women, under the command of Mrs Devereux. ( . Not too long ago I spotted a set of images at the local doctors office about the house and it’s history as a hospital, but as usual I could not find them (since found  and their information is added to the update).

This strange structure below is supposedly called “the long barn”.

Update 07/05/2018.

This wonderfully warm and sunny bank holiday took me back to the former Mitton Manor where I was able to photograph the plaque relating to the role the house played in World War 1. I have however not found any trace of the Devereux family that were associated with the house at the time. 

The display at the Devereux Centre did not throw out too much information either. This is what it says:

In 1872 Dr Daniel Devereux was the inspiration for the opening of the first hospital and was appointed as surgeon.   

1914, Dr W.C. Devereux presides over the Tewkesbury Voluntary Aid Detachment under the Red Cross, to treat the influx of wounded. Mrs Ethel Devereux is appointed Commandant at Watson Hall

In 1915 the Red Cross moves to Mitton Farm. Over the next four years at least 121 local people served there.  

In 1918 Mrs Devereux is awarded the M.B.E for her work as Commandant.  And in 1919 Mitton Farm is stood down.  In 1927 Dr Devereux resigns from the post and the couple move to Cambridge. Mrs Devereux dies in 1931. Strangely enough, one of her daughters married a South African from Johannesburg. 

The Domesday Book entry for Mitton reads: 

  • Head of manor: Bredon.
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 4 geld units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £4. Value to lord in 1086 £4.
  • Households: 12 villagers. 6 smallholders. 10 slaves. 3 female slaves.
  • Ploughland: 5 lord’s plough teams. 9 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 40 acres. Woodland 2 furlongs.
  • Lord in 1066Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Lord in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Places mentioned in this entryMittonTeddington.
  • Phillimore reference: 2,23

I hope to revisit this post once I find the odds and ends I had collected about the manor and Mrs Devereux. Another interesting snippet came via a work colleague who told me that at at one point the house was in the family of some baroness who was a famous model and who slept under her car when she arrived home only to find it had been vandalised in her absence (the house.. not the car). After our original conversation he found the following info:

“In the 1950s the estate was in the possession of an Austrian Baroness, Violet von Gagern, a former Cecil Beaton model. However, by 1960 the Baroness was rarely in residence, and the manor started to fall into decline. It was at this time that she sold much of the surrounding farmland to the housing company Jane s of Luton, which constructed the present housing estate, mainly between 1963-7. By 1969 the manor house had become so dilapidated that local residents started to voice concerns. But thankfully in 1971 a planning inquiry refused the Baroness permission to demolish the manor house to provide space for further new housing. Subsequently the house was bought and carefully restored by its present owners Jan and Margaret Lucas.”  (

I also found out that the Carrant Brook that flows past where I live is actually the border between Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. 

My exit from Mitton took place more or less where the border signpost is, and I photographed that sign when I paid a visit to St Giles in Bredon in 2016. On the left hand side of this sign is a farm and of course the Avon flows past here too. It looked like this in 2016.


The Avon was running quite low at that point, although the same cannot be said of today. What I was hoping to see were the sheep that live on that patch of green, and this post is dedicated to them. 

They were looking quite cosy in their woolie jumpers too. The area where they are is now a snow covered winter field, and the Avon is much higher than in 2016


It is looking very beautiful out there, and at the time of writing the wind is blowing like mad. The weather forecast is for temps between 1 and -2 degrees with snow showers and breezy. It looks like it Winter will be with us just a wee bit longer this year. 

And that was the weather. We return you now to our regular Sunday broadcast of church music, radio drama and pictures of sheep. Baaaah. 

Incidentally, this is what it looks like today (07/05/2018)

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DRW © 2018. Created 18/03/2018. Updated 07/05/2018.  Domesday Book Image by Professor J.J.N. Palmer and George Slater. The Open Domesday Project and the associated  images are kindly made available by Professor J.J.N. Palmer. Images may be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.  

Graving in Burntwood

This morning I grabbed my goodies and headed off to St Matthews Hospital Burial Ground in Burntwood, Staffordshire. I really had two sites to photograph the CWGC graves of, the first being Christ Church in Burntwood, and the second being the hospital. Fortunately the church with it’s 6 CWGC graves was literally in throwing distance of the hospital burial grounds so I could accomplish two goals in one trip.
The graveyard was quite a large one, and my graves were reasonably easy to find, there is a modern extension too and burials still seem to occur there, although there is a new cemetery up the road. 
The church also has  wonderful old lychgate dating from 1931, and I really enjoy seeing those.  The church dates back to 1820, and it has a number of military memorials inside it. Unfortunately I was not able to get into the church to photograph them.
Well satisfied, I headed “up the road” to St Matthews. Along my way I encountered Prince’s Park, and if you blink you may just miss it.
The park is featured in the Guinness Book of Records as being the smallest park in the United Kingdom. It was created to commemorate the marriage of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark. There are three trees within its grounds named Faith, Hope and Charity. There is one bench and it is supposedly a favourite place with the local dogs.  In the image above the road that continues towards the left is where St Matthews Hospital Burial Ground is located.

There are 9 CWGC graves in the cemetery, and the gate is locked; the key supposedly available at the vicarage. However, nobody at the vicarage knew anything about the key, and after asking around I decided that there was no way I was going to get into the cemetery unless it was over the top. Fortunately the wall is not very high and after much huffing and puffing I was soon inside.

The CWGC graves are easy to find because they are the only ones that are still standing.  There are numerous markers stacked around the base of trees, and in some spots markers are laying flat in the ground. The only markings on the markers are numbers, and nothing else. There were supposed to be initials too, but I never saw any on the markers I looked at.
It is at this point where I really feel sad, because each of those numbers was a human being, a man, a woman or a child. The sad truth is the St Matthews was an “Asylum”, and those numbers probably refer to a date of death, or possibly a file number? The Burntwood Family History Group says that the numbers are dates, and probably a grave number or row. According to the website there are 1,560 men and 1,543 women buried in this small space. It also appears as if there are records available, so these people are not unknown, although their lives were probably often short and tragic. The hospital served the military in World War Two but was closed in 1995, and the only real remnants are part of the administration block and the chapel.
The administration block was really magnificent, and is now used as flats as the grounds of the hospital are now a housing estate. The chapel is in use by a nursery school, and it is next to the new Burntwood Cemetery.
I do not know whether there was a graveyard attached to the former chapel, if there was it is now a parking lot, playground and a modern cemetery.

It was time for me to head off home, my task complete. I had my graves. I had spoken to a local at the social club who did tell me a lot about the hospital and showed me images from its past. But I still felt saddened by that empty field of graves that I had been in earlier. It was covered in yellow flowers now, and I thought that they were a fine tribute to those unfortunates who are buried beneath them. May they have found the peace that they deserved. I may come back to this post about St Matthews as I do some reading, it does seem like a fascinating place to read about, and I am sure somewhere I will find the war stories associated with it.

My next port of call was the Burntwood War Memorial which was not too far away. It is a modern memorial, and I expect not too many people are even aware of it.
I only found out about it because I had spoken to a local, and he advised me that I should visit the Cannock Chase War Cemetery too, and that happened shortly after I got home, and it shall appear in this blog shortly.

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