"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

Friday, 29 April 2016

Return to Temple Balsall

I gave E a lift into Solihull yesterday where she was meeting a friend for lunch which gave me a couple of hours to myself before I had to pick her up. My initial plan was to go and visit a church at Rowington and also check out a lane near there which has a wonderful display of Wild Garlic. Sadly, I discovered the church is locked. Second idea was to revisit St Alpheges and check out a rather gorgeous (and I suspect expensive!) teddy bear called Mr. Bumble in the Handmade Boutique. I decided that Mr Bumble might prove irresistible and not good for the bank balance so I eventually decided to return to Temple Balsall in the hope of seeing some butterflies.

It was lovely and sunny, if rather cold, when we left home but by the time I reached the car park at Temple Balsall it was starting to rain. Definitely not butterfly weather :(

The Old Hall of the Templars

The cottage garden of the Old Hall is full of a mixture of wild and cultivated flowers.

There were more wild flowers appearing in the churchyard compared to our visit earlier this month - Primroses and Lesser Celandine (still abundant), Bluebells, Snakeshead Fritillary, Cowslips, Oxlips and Dandelions. This churchyard is a superb example of how beautiful God's Acre can look if wildlife is allowed to flourish.

St Mary the Virgin

(If you read the post a few weeks back you might want to skip the next few sentences as it might be a trifle repetitive).

The church was built in the first 30 years of the 14th century as the Chapel for the Knight's Hospitallers who had taken over the estate a few years before following the Dissolution of the Knights Templar. The latter had worshipped in a chapel attached to the Old Hall.

Following Henry VIII's Dissolution of the monasteries and religious communities, the Church was neglected for many years.

It was restored in the second half of the 17th century by Lady Anne Holbourne. A full restoration by Sir George Gilbert Scott, who was renowned for restoring medieval churches, took place in the mid 19th century. In the 1860's St Mary's became a parish church.

During the Gilbert Scott restoration the Lady Anne Holbourne Font (pictured below) was replaced by Scott's choice and the older font was removed to the garden of Temple House where it remained until 1920 when it was moved again to a local farm. The font was eventually returned to St Mary's in 1984.

The pulpit dates from the GS restoration and panels depict Christ surrounded by the 4 Gospel Writers

I understand the floor also dates from the GS restoration

The East window dates back to 1907 whereas the

West Window is slightly older.

The next few photos were taken with the Canon Bridge SX50 - (yes, I took 2 cameras with me!). I think the Canon takes better photos of the stained glass partly because you can zoom in more but also because I like the brighter colours.

There are many stone carved heads just below the roof and many are of Knights ready to serve as Soldiers of Christ. Most date back to the mid 19th century Restoration.

The Organ was bought during the 1840's restoration when the Foundation of Lady Katherine Leveson spent large amounts of money on the church.

Piscina and Sedilia

Carvings of wood - very lovely I thought

I don't remember seeing this memorial before.

I was hoping to look for more gravestones with the name Truelove both in this churchyard and the cemetery but due to the rain I didn't really get chance and it was time to return to Solihull.

Walking back along the Bread Walk

No flowers yet on the Lords and Ladies

You can see the trails of the Holly Leaf Miner on these Holly leaves.

Violets and Green Alkanet are now flowering.

Reference:The Church of St Mary the Virgin Temple Balsall, A Visitor Guide

Friday, 22 April 2016

Art, Treasure and Books

I recently spent a few hours in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I do love this museum and many years ago, when I worked just a few minutes walk away, I used to spend most lunchtimes looking round the Natural History Section. Sadly, this part of the museum is no longer on display although I discovered recently that it is stored as a collection and I think you may be able to visit by prior arrangement.

Apologies if some of the photos are a bit "iffy" (especially the paintings) - I had the usual problem with low light and slow shutter speeds.

I loved this colourful dress - from memory an Irish Dancer's dress.

I spent quite a lot of time looking round the Art Galleries especially the Pre-Raphaelite section.

I was really pleased to see one of my favourite paintings back on display - last time I visited I couldn't find it anywhere.

A not much better photo of a post card I bought.

Then I went along to the main reason for my visit - the new Staffordshire Hoard Exhibition. This Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. The artefacts are made of gold, silver and garnets and it is thought they were probably taken from the armour, weaponry and religious items of defeated armies in England in the 7th century. I did visit an earlier exhibition some years ago once the initial huge queues to gain admission had died down but photos weren't allowed then. The new exhibition contains hundreds of pieces on display with information on the conservation work used on the artefacts and hands on displays about the craftmanship and design.

Replica's of two of the objects

I thought the decoration and intricate workmanship and animal art in some of the objects was beautiful.

A little purchase from the shop! :)


I love the books published by Little Toller and have just finished reading The Ash Tree by Oliver Rackham which is a lovely and exceedingly interesting book. Ash is one of our commonest trees and has recently come to the public's attention due to the onset of Ash Disease. This book is the first written on the ecology and history of this species looking at the part it has played in our culture and explaining diseases that affect the tree. Oliver Rackham argues that globilisation is the biggest threat to the world's forests and trees.

I read about Anne Cleeves on "Corners of My Mind" Blog - and possibly on Bovey Belle's too? - so thanks Rosie and BB. So when I saw Amazon inviting you to try a new author and saw this book for 99p it was on my Kindle within minutes. I hadn't seen the tv series and it is sadly not on iplayer but I loved this book. Luckily, I had bought the second in the series also for 99p and it won't be long before I am buying the rest although sadly the price has gone up!