A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
From "Auguries of Innocence"
by William Blake
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Following in the Footsteps of an "Edwardian Lady" - Part 6: Temple Balsall
On 21st July, 1906, Edith Holden wrote in "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" that she cycled to Baddesley and then walked to Temple Balsall (or Balsall Temple as she called it).
She described the area as a beautiful part of the country containing "low-lying meadows with sedgy streams meandering through them" with the banks being full of water flowers and rushes.
The power lines in the photo above would not have been there in Edith's day!
Edith searched for the wild Canterbury Bell which she had found growing by a stream some years previously and was pleased to rediscover the flower even though she managed to get badly stung by nettles in the process!
I looked for many of the flowers she mentioned seeing such as Purple Loosestrife (or Long Purples) as she called it, Meadow Cranes-bill, Water Forget-me-Not and Yellow Water Lilies. Sadly, I failed to find any of these plants just getting bitten by a horde of insects who had appeared in the heat and humidity. I am sure if I had been made of "sterner stuff" and searched more I would have found some of these species!
Although even Edith in 1906, having gone out of her way, failed to find one species that she was looking for - the Spreading Campanula which she had seen in this spot several years earlier.
Edith mentioned seeing large numbers of Meadow Brown Butterflies during her walk and a veritable horde of them by a bank of Henbit Nettle and Knapweed topped with flowering wild Privet. I did see a few butterflies - a sole Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Comma and several (but not hordes) of Meadow Browns.
I couldn't find the privet topped bank although, of course, it may no longer exist, but I did find a steep bank covered in wildflowers and grasses.
Scrambling over here I found a secret, little, sun-filled dell full of wildflowers,
Lady's Mantle - presumably a garden escape
Rose-bay Willow Herb
Part of the area Edith would no doubt have visited at Temple Balsall is now a 6.5 acre nature reserve managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. The Cuttlebrook which bisects the reserve joins the River Blythe a little further east. I spent some time exploring this reserve.
The photo below shows an area full of the giant leaves of Butterbur
I eventually managed to find a Giant Bellflower (Campanula) - a flower painted by Edith following her visit.
Close to the Reserve is a 17 acre field bought by the Woodland Trust in 1999 and planted with trees to form a Millenium Wood. I am sure Edith would have approved wholeheartedly!
I wasn't lucky enough to see a Kingfisher as Edith did and nor could I find her dry marl-pit where she found a Great Mullein flowering. Its difficult knowing exactly where Edith walked whether by lane, or field or path but it does give me an excuse to return to this lovely area one day.
Temple Balsall itself is a charming village steeped in history with links to the Knights Templar, Katherine Parr (6th and final wife to Henry VIII), Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester (and a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I) and Lady Katherine Leveson. Its one of those places that time seems to have forgotten and I will do a further post on the village later.
Many thanks to Edith who inspired me to revisit this lovely area and also thanks to to Temple Balsall Nature Reserve Blog where you can see far better photos of the Giant Bellflower. Please see the link on the far right of the page or visit
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.