"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

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Garden, Reading, Baking and Two Churches

A few days ago I was in the garage and noticed there was a dragonfly perched on a nearby pole in the garden.

I am not sure whether it is a Common Darter or Ruddy Darter.

Rosebay Willowherb has self seeded on the patio.

Recent Reading

This is a new author for me - the book is quite short and introduces Kate Shackleton and her first case. I enjoyed the book enough to buy the next in the series on the Kindle.

This book was really interesting - just wish I had the "proper" book rather than a Kindle version. I do like Arts and Crafts Gardens and Houses and one day will return to Wightwick Manor and Hidcote.

The latest Maisie Dobbs story was good - I have enjoyed this series. For some reason I have a feeling this may be the last MD story but I hope I am proved wrong.

E made a Cherry Cake yesterday - another recipe from Mary Berry's "Fast Cakes". We are still ok for flour having got some from Shipton Mill but trying to order cake making ingredients when you do the supermarket online shop is still proving difficult. So many items are out of stock from mixed dried fruit to greaseproof paper, from vanilla essence to light muscovado or even light brown sugar! I did, however, manage to get some more plain flour and some icing sugar in this week's Morrison shop.

Last Sunday E and I went for a drive around the Fillongley Lanes. I was hoping to stop off briefly at two churches I have not visited before to get photos of the church exterior and churchyards. E was not impressed and insisted on remaining in the car on both occasions so I only allowed myself 5/10 minutes at each church. A shame as there seemed a lot of interest - I shall have to return on my own.

St Leonard's, Over Whitacre

The church is on a main road outside the village and as I knew I couldn't park on the road I checked google maps and found there was a car park at the church next to the village hall. I used to do a BTO Atlas transect walk round this area some years ago and I never realised the car park existed but used to park in a pub car park in Over Whitacre itself!

By the North West churchyard gate there is a former school which now fronts the village hall. The building is 1840's Tudor in stone with a cross on the central gable.

The church sits on a hill looking towards the town of Coleshill and in the very distance the city of Birmingham. The church with its Baroque and dramatic steeple was built 1765/6 and possibly it was the early work of Francis Hiorne.

The West Door is flanked by volutes.

The church is now open for private prayer if you contact the church warden. As far as I know this church is usually locked and I have never seen any details of open days.

The churchyard contains 18th and 19th century memorials in slate and stone including one to a local steeple builder who lived in nearby Over Whitacre. I really should have read my Warwickshire Pevsner before visiting!

The base of the churchyard cross supporting an octagonal bowl with quatrefoils alternating with the symbols of the Evangelists.

St Cuthbert's Shustoke seen across the fields.

And so onto the village of Fillongley and

St Mary And All Saints

The nave of the church was widened and rebuilt around 1300.

Although it appears the church will be opening for private prayer it is not I think a church that is normally open to the general public who wish to take photos. So many of the North Warwickshire churches are kept locked.

The church has some good examples of 17th century table tombs (such a shame I didn't have longer to look round!) and the remains of two crosses - one 15th century restored by Bodley and Garner in 1896.

According to "Ghosts of Warwickshire" by Betty Smith this church is or was haunted. Over the years there have been many reports by people walking along the churchyard path of the cowled figures of monks chanting Latin verses and some individuals felt they were being held back by an invisible force.

During World War 2 the vicar's wife went to the church as it was getting dark and inside she saw a man wearing what appeared to be a black cassock standing by the altar. She thought it was her husband although thought it a little strange as she had just left him at home sitting by the fire. As she walked towards the figure it suddenly disappeared into thin air.

Stories of the ghosts spread around the village and one very sceptical man who didn't believe in ghosts said he would spend the night in the church BUT just after midnight he came running out of the church terrified. He refused to tell anyone what he had seen or heard and never went in the church again.

Fillongley never had a monastery so who were the monks who haunted it? Eventually it was discovered that the altar stone in the church had come from Maxstoke Priory a few miles away and it was thought that the ghostly monks had come with it.

Maxstoke Priory was founded in 1331 by Sir William de Clinton of Maxstoke Castle. The monks, however, did not lead very pious lives and there were many complaints about assaults and marauding and in 1399 one of the brothers murdered one of the other monks.

The Priory was dissolved during the Dissolution so perhaps the 7 monks who were residing there at the time made their way to Fillongley along with the altar stone?

When the hauntings began to really worry the villagers a clergyman volunteered to go to into the church at midnight and read a Special Divine Service designed to remove spirits. As he read the latin verses he bcame aware of other voices joining in and making the correct responses - the ghostly monks were taking part in a service that was supposed to exorcise them!!!! The clergyman fled rather rapidly!

At Maxstoke Priory there have also been reports of the voices of monks chanting in Latin.

I have no idea whether the church is still haunted but I certainly didn't notice or hear anything strange during my very brief visit! In fact only once in all the churches and churchyards I have visited did I experience something a bit "strange". I was taking photos of the font and so strong was the feeling that someone was standing just behind me that I kept turning round and looking but there was no-one in sight. The sensation disappeared once I had moved away from the area by the font. I am sure there was a logical explanation as there were several people in the church praying and it could be one of them left and passed behind me without me noticing.

I hope everyone is staying safe and well. Take care all.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera

"Ghosts of Warwickshire" by Betty Smith
"The Buildings of England Warwickshire" by Chris Pickford and Nikolaus Pevsner

Thursday, 25 June 2020

"Bits and Pieces"

Another week passes and to be honest, even though places are beginning to re-open if you book in advance, I still don't feel confident enough to go out and about so another post mainly about the garden.

A little vase of Mock Orange Flowers

Large Orange Lilies are starting to flower.

Verbena bonariensis

Another one of those shrubs we bought years ago which I cannot put a name to!

Birds-foot Trefoil flowering by the pond.

Corncockle in the wild flower area

Herb Robert and an unknown little pink flower with clover shaped leaves.

Edit Many thanks to Dean at "Punk Birder" the mystery plant is Pink Oxalis.

Wall Pennywort seems to be doing ok although, horrors of horrors, I went up to check the few planted by the stone wall this morning and the leaves have been nibbled which is not good news :(

D found a Devil's Coach Horse in the front garden.

Red Admiral

Ladybird larva

D found this wasp species in his bedroom last night. Thanks so much to Stewart from "Boulmer Birder" via Twitter who suggests it is a Digger wasp and possibly one of the Ectemnius species.


This Batsford book on hidden villages was very good.

I've been meaning to read Mrs Moreau's Warbler for ages and finally got round to it - it is excellent and very informative.


This is the "Fast Cakes" book by Mary Berry that my daughter and I are working our way through in a random fashion.

Fairings were made last week - too hot this week to bake!

It was B's birthday yesterday and this is his cake - A Thornton's Chocolate Cake which is melting in the heat!

Hopefully, we may be able to visit our caravan in Herefordshire on or after the 4th July following yet another easing of the lockdown restrictions. It would be good to be able to take all the items we have bought and as Rosie said "make it our own" as we haven't seen it since we bought it last October! I am not sure we will yet be doing many of the things we planned such as visiting places like Ludlow, Hereford and Cathedral, Croft Castle, Brockhampton, etc. etc. but the caravan site itself is lovely with a pool and hide and wildflower meadow so it will be a good place to relax and there are always country lanes to walk which I hope will be quieter than those round here!!

I hope everyone is staying safe and well.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera