"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

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Baddesley Clinton - Part 1: St Michael's Church and House

I had a day out on my own last week as B had gone to Upton House with some friends to do a leyline walk. I was rather envious initially to be honest especially as there are some good churches in the area but it was so hot that I don't think I would have enjoyed a five and a half mile trek! I wasn't sure where to go - I did consider Lichfield Cathedral but to be honest I was feeling so tired (not sleeping well at the moment due to worrying over the never-ending work and problems at my mother's house) so I decided to stay local. I drove towards Baddesley Clinton and Packwood and decided right at the last moment to visit the former.

First I walked up to St Michael's Church.

A lovely view of fields as you go along Church Walk. There is physical evidence of ridge and furrow (Medieval strip farming) in this field between the manor house and church.

A Soldier Beetle - these are predators hunting for insects in flowers and leaves. Their name comes from the similarities between their colours and a soldier's uniform.

St Michael's Church just visible behind the trees and Cow Parsley

A few photos of the older tombs and gravestones.

Parts of the churchyard are left unmown for wild flowers to flourish - Red Campion, Pignut and Buttercups

A field full of buttercups beyond the churchyard.

I didn't go inside the church on this visit and returned to the house

via church walk.

A manor has existed on this site since before the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the present house was built mainly in the 15th and 16th centuries. Improvements and alterations were made in the 18th century by Edward Ferrers who married a wealthy heiress. It was the home of the Ferrers family for nearly 500 years and was handed over to the National Trust in 1980 and opened to the public in 1982. Following the Reformation Baddesley Clinton was a hiding place for catholic priests. A priest hole, reached via a garderobe on the first floor, can be seen in the kitchen. In 1587 while Henry Ferrers was in London the Vaux sisters allowed nine Jesuit priests to use Baddesley Clinton for their missionary work. Henry Ferrers was a historian, known as the Antiquary, and he introduced most of the 16th century heraldic glass that can be seen throughout the house.

Other interesting past owners of the house include Marmion Ferrers who occupied the manor in the 19th century and who liked to dress up as a squire from the past. He married Rebecca who was a talented artist and her paintings can be seen throughout the house. Rebecca's aunt, Georgiana, Lady Chatterton, and her second husband Edward Dering came to live at Baddesley. Edward spent a lot of money on the house so that The Quartet, as they were known, could continue to live there in some style. Edward inherited the house on the death of Marmion. Lady Chatterton had died some years previously and Rebecca married Edward and she continued to live in the house for many years after Edward had died.

Another fascinating character who I have written about before is, of course, Nicholas Brome. His father, John, a lawyer, purchased the house in 1438. 30 years later John was murdered in London by John Herthill, Steward of "The Kingmaker" (Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick) over a dispute about property. Nicholas, John's son, who had inherited the property fought a duel with Herthill near Warwick and killed him. Nicholas, as I have mentioned before, also slew the priest of Baddesley Church, for flirting with his wife. He was pardoned by the King and Pope but paid many penances during his life including building one church and adding a tower to another. He isburied standing upright by the door of St Michael's church so that people entering walk over him!

Edward Dering added this stained glass representing his family's Black Horse crest.

The arms of the Ferrers of Baddesley Clinton impaling the arms of Hampden (Henry Ferrers married Catherine Hampden).

Apologies that the photos inside the house aren't very sharp - very low light!

The Great Hall

The following heraldic glass celebrates various marriages.

The Dining Room

The Drawing Room

Henry Ferrers' Bedroom

Portrait of the "Blue Lady" in the Blue Bedroom

This glass panel was painted by Thomas Jervais in the 1700's and shows a Dutch church interior. The panel was restored in 2000 by Alfred Fisher, an expert in historic glass.

I love the choughs in this glass - they come from the Cranley Arms (Arthur Cranley married Margaret Ann, sister of Marmion).

One of Rebecca's paintings.

The library - there is a blood stain on the floor just in front of the fireplace - legend has it that it is connected to the killing of the priest by Nicholas although tests have revealed that it is not human blood but comes from an animal.

I am still having a few problems uploading photos so I will save the walk round the woodland, lake and garden for a second post.

Reference: New National Trust Guide to Baddesley Clinton

Heraldry at Baddesley Clinton by Clem Hindmarch and Mary Tweddle

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Berkswell Cello and Garden Flowers

D and I made a brief visit to one of our favourite villages last Monday. First port of call was the Norman church of St John the Baptist in Berkswell.

The ancient oak church door has handmade nails and was made over 600 years ago.

I was keen to see the "Berkswell Cello" which has recently been returned to the church. It has an interesting history and was made by the cello maker John Barrett in 1720 at the Harp and Crown in London. The cello came into the possession of Berkswell church in 1794, A musicians' gallery had been built at the west end of the church in 1777 where a church band and quire sat. This gallery was removed in 1896 to make room for a new Willis organ. All the old church musical instruments, including the cello fell into disuse. Warwick Museum housed the cello and its oak case for part of the last century and then it was displayed in the Berkswell museum of local history. I do wish I had visited this museum when it was open as it sadly closed last year.

The cello was not in a good condition and had woodworm damage and missing parts. The Berkswell Museum Committee decided to have the cello restored to "display" standards" rather than to "play standards". Earlier this year the cello returned to Berkswell church and is housed in a special cabinet also containing a replica 18th century bow.

I didn't take too many photos in the church as I have done so many posts on the building in the past but this is the medieval sanctus bell which was hidden in the tower during the reformation and was only re-discovered in 2013.

A few tombs and gravestones from the churchyard.

So good to see that wild flowers are allowed to flourish in some parts of the churchyard.

Maud Watson, daughter of the local vicar and 1st Ladies' Single Champion at Wimbledon, is buried near the church. She played her sister in the final.

This is an unusual tomb - I've never seen one like this before and couldn't find any inscriptions on it.

In a previous post I showed some of the graffiti cut into the church walls - here are a few more examples.

I discovered this postcard in the village shop - it shows the centre section of the Berkswell 2000 Parish Map which was embroidered by the Berkswell Society to mark the millennium. Apparently the map is on display in the Reading Room so if I go to the next art exhibition there I will look out for it.

D and I then had a pub lunch at The Bear - Cheese and Red Onion chutney sandwich with salad and chips - oops no photo as I had left the camera in the boot :(

Just a few pictures from around the garden to finish off the post.

Clematis on the house wall is flowering well and

the Climbing Hydrangea will be in flower soon.

Green Alkanet is spreading round the garden. Fortunately B hasn't yet realised how invasive it can be! The bees adore it.

The pond with

Ragged Robin spreading in the bog garden. Sorry I couldn't get close enough for a better photo without trampling plants. Sadly, the Ladies Smock plants put in last year haven't re-appeared.

Azaleas and Rhododendron now in flower


I love this fuschia - the flowers are so delicate.

Mini wildflower meadow - still showing far too much couch grass :(

Lots of Yellow Rattle again this year which will be in flower soon

Ribwort Plantain

In the past we have sown only British wild flower seeds but last autumn B spread several packs of seeds containing flowers which are good for pollinators so it will be interesting to see what comes up!

A self-seeded broom in the front garden is full of flowers.

Somewhere in this ivy a wren has a nest - she is seen regularly taking in food.

Blue Tits are also feeding young in the nestbox in the Whitebeam - the nestbox camera has packed up so this year have no idea at all how many chicks there are.