"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

Thursday, 7 July 2016

East Devon - Day 6, Wednesday, 22nd June : Bicton Park Botanical Gardens Part 2 - St Mary's Church and the Countryside Museum

Returning to the Botanical Gardens.....

There has been a church at Bicton since Saxon times but the present church is only 150 years old. It was built at the request of Lady Louisa Rolle (1794-1885), wife of Lord John Rolle who owned the Bicton Estate. She was reputedly the richest woman in Devon and had the church constructed at her own expense.

St Mary's was designed and built by famous Exeter architect, John Hayward - a pioneer of the Gothic Revival design. The walls are built from limestone which was quarried at Chudleigh near Newton Abbot. The church was consecrated in 1850 and it is thought that all five British monarchs from Victoria to George VI have visited the church.

It would have been nice to have seen the original medieval church in all its splendour but it was partially demolished in 1850 to give a "planned ruin" setting for the Rolle family mausoleum. You can see the ruins in this picture - sadly, I didn't have time to explore this part as I don't think the family were over impressed that I had found yet another church!

The stained glass was beautiful.

It wasn't until I read the guidebook to the Gardens that I found out about the stone faces in the photos below - dripstones have been carved to represent 50 English kings and queens and their spouses. If I had known at the time I would have fetched the Canon camera from D and taken more pictures.

A mysterious "Lady in Black" was seen in the church by a couple in the early 1970's. A little old lady dressed in a poker bonnet and long dress suddenly appeared next to the couple and just as suddenly disappeared. There was no sign of her when I visited thank goodness!

The Countryside Museum which contains farming and rural life displays and old farming equipment from the nineteenth century was superb - you could have spent hours there.

First of all you can visit the Reg Imray Motor Museum which contains a collection of cars and motor vehicles restored by Reg Imray who moved to Exmouth from Essex in 1967. He was often seen riding round East Devon on one of his classic vintage motorcycles.

Then into the Countryside Museum - apologies for the poor quality of some of the photos due to low light.

There were dozens of tractors, ploughs and traction engineers etc. including a Haywain, horse and cart, Dorset Wagon, Threshing Machines, Hay and Straw Elevator and a Straw Trusser.

Cider making

The Smithy

Devon Bow or Ship Wagon

My mother had a sewing machine just like this when I was little!

There is a man trap somewhere in the photo below :(

The Kitchen

The Estate

Clod Crusher

The Dairy

The displays really gave an insight into farming and country life in the past in the days before agricultural intensification and if anyone visits the Gardens in the future please don't miss the museum - it was the highlight of my visit.

Reference: Guide Book to Bicton Park Botanical Gardens

You'll probably be as relieved as I am that I won't get chance to do a post tomorrow - I am off to a certain tennis club in SW19 :)

Hopefully, I'll finish off the holiday posts over the weekend. Just one more post - on the final day we went on a cruise on the River Exe and paid a return visit to Beer.


Margaret Adamson said...

what a pretty little church outside but magnificent inside especially those beautiful strain glass windows.

Rosie said...

Such a lot of interest in your post. The church looks wonderful especially the stained glass. I love country life museums as there is always so much of interest to see and also remember. My grandma had a treadle sewing machine very similar to the one in your photo. When I was little I was allowed to play with the ribbons and buttons in the little drawers on it. Later she used to store her black lace up shoes underneath it:)

amanda peters said...

Another lovely church and yes the windows are stunning...I love the kitchen photo..very interesting.
Hope you had a lovely day at the tennis.. Strawberries and cream anyone...
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks Margaret - glad you liked the stained glass windows too :)

Rosie - Thanks Rosie. It was an excellent museum. I don't know what happened to my mother's sewing machine - its probably hidden away in the cupboard under the stairs! My neighbour has one in her porch (with out the sewing machine part) that she uses as a plant stand!

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda - I didn't realise there was a church there until we arrived! Fitted in more church visits this holiday than usual! Tennis was great thanks - very long day though and driving through London was horrendous - as usual it took longer to drive through London than actually getting there!! But it is a great experience if you like tennis and get offered tickets.

Wendy said...

The stained glass windows look beautiful and I'd enjoy the museum, too. It's interesting studying your photos to see all the different things in it. I do love looking around the everyday items of farming and rural life, although the man trap is a horrible thing, of course.
I'm glad you enjoyed the tennis - despite the traffic!

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks very much Wendy - so pleased you enjoyed the church and museum. It was so interesting to walk round the museum and imagine times in the past - apart from the man trap!! Tennis was good - slowly forgetting the horrendous traffic jams everywhere in London and remembering the good parts i.e tennis :)