"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, 29 December 2015

A Walk Round Maxstoke

It was actually dry and sunny today for a change! So this afternoon we went for a walk round the tiny village of Maxstoke in North Warwickshire and the surrounding lanes.

We parked near the Church which is beside the ruins of Maxstoke Priory. The church built of sandstone is a Grade II listed building and dates back to the early 14th century with 18th and mid-nineteenth century modifications. Presumably there is a connection between the church and priory but to get inside the church you have to contact the local vicar.

Both the church and Priory were dedicated to St Michael and All Angels which is very interesting to a ley hunter (yes, I am still reading the ley-line books - the interest in them was re-ignited by reading Phil Rickman's books) as St Michael was known as a killer of devils which were often depicted as dragons. There is also a moated island close by and again moats are often found on leylines. I can see I will be searching for some Warwickshire leys myself once I have finished the books.

Ivy-leaved Toadflax on the church wall.

Cyclamens and Periwinkles flowering in gardens.

The Priory of Augustinian Canons was founded by William de Clinton in 1336/37. He was also responsible for the construction of Maxstoke Castle, which is only a few miles away, in 1345. If you have been reading my blog for some years you may remember some posts I have done on visits to Maxstoke Castle and the delightful gardens there.

The Priory was dissolved in 1536 during the Dissolution. The site is defined by the surviving sandstone precinct wall - part of the wall and the ruins of the Outer Gatehouse can be seen in the photo below.

There are more priory ruins in the fields behind the farmhouse. Years ago when I was a teenager some friends and I walked from Coleshill to Maxstoke and knocked on the door of the farm to ask if they would let us access the ruins which they very kindly allowed us to do. I think in those days we were either on a Famous Five type adventure or in search of ghosts. I read today about a Canon at the Priory who killed another Canon in self defence when he was attacked so dastardly deeds did occur there. The place has such a sense of history I really wouldn't be surprised to see the shadowy figure of a monk disappearing behind a wall.

Plenty of lichen and ivy berries in the hedgerow.

I think this pond in the grounds of the Rectory is one of the fishponds used by the medieval canons at the Priory.

Leaving Maxstoke behind we walked along surrounding lanes.

We used to call these Oak Apples when I was little - made by tiny gall wasps - unfortunately I can't get at my guide to galls to check as the Christmas Tree is blocking access to the bookcase :(

Return journey - looking towards the Priory

This field was full of a flock of 100's of Fieldfares and a few Redwings and several dozen starlings.

I've seen photos of daffodils in flower already on one or two other blogs but here by the church they are still in bud.

Back home to a cup of homemade hot chocolate :)

A few photos D took today with the Canon illustrating yet again the usefulness of the zoom.

Record shot of a few Fieldfares (they were a long way away!)


Toffeeapple said...

Lovely to see the winter visitors isn't it?

We had a day out in rural Bedforshire yesterday, in the sun and it was so lovely with the bright blue skies and the local hostelries being s friendly...

Happy New Year Caroline!

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much. Yes, it was lovely to see some winter visitors :)

So glad you had such a lovely day out yesterday - so good to get out in the fresh air and take advantage of some dry weather for once!

Happy New Year to you too :)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

The weather has been too nice for fieldfares in my own surroundings! Lots of unseasonal stuff here too, as you'll see

Pete Duxon said...

looks a lovely walk! hope you have a happy new year!

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon. We've had a few Redwings round at home (one regularly visits the garden pond) but first decent flock of Fieldfares I've seen this autumn.

Pete Duxon - Thanks Pete - yes, it is a nice area to walk. Thank you for the Happy New Year Wishes - I wish you all the best for 2016 too :)

Deb said...

Great photos of a lovely walk. The rain's finally stopped here so hopefully I might get out for a walk tomorrow and blow a few cobwebs away.:-)
Happy New Year!

Ragged Robin said...

Deb - Many thanks Deb. Glad to hear the rain has finally stopped for you (hope the storm wasn't too awful) and enjoy your walk.
Happy New Year to you too :)

Millymollymandy said...

Great that you had some sun so a chance to get out (and work off those excess pounds after Christmas, haha). Love the winter light on your returning journey. Those daffs are way ahead of mine apart from some that I have in tubs. Lovely to see some flowers out in winter anyway. I think those are oak apples too. And I haven't seen any fieldfares or redwings yet - maybe it's not cold enough here yet! :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much for the comment Mandy. One of the rare dry days recently although to be fair today the forecasted rain never materialised so could have gone out. Daren't weigh myself - until after I've demolished rest of Cmas chocs!

Daffodils in our garden aren't that advanced either although the leaves are shooting up. We've had Redwings in the garden but those were the first Fieldfares I've seen this autumn/winter. Just been typing up my year bird lists - last year's total was very low - must try and get out birding more this year!