"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, 24 February 2017

Snowdrops at St Michael's, Baddesley Clinton

We went in search of Snowdrops at Baddesley Clinton last Thursday afternoon. It was dull and gloomy but at least the drizzle which had started on the journey stopped as we pulled into the car park.

I spotted a lovely legend on the Baddesley Clinton website that tells of the snowdrop becoming the symbol of hope when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Eve was giving up hope that the freezing cold weather would ever cease when an angel appeared and changed some of the snowflakes into snowdrops. Each year the appearance of snowdrop flowers provides proof that even the coldest of winters will eventually end as Spring arrives.

Snowdrops are also know as Fair Maids of February, Snow Piercers, Candlemas Bells and Purification Flowers. It is thought that they may have been brought to Britain in the 15th century by monks as they are often found in churchyards and monastery gardens. They were planted in the latter to provide flowers for Candlemas Day.

".... Brother, joy to you!
I've brought more snowdrops; only just a few,
Cheerful and hopeful in the frosty dew
And for the pale sun's sake."

From "The Months" by Christina Rossetti


"Thou first-born of the year's delight
Pride of the dewy glad,
In vernal green, and virgin white
Thy vestal robes array'd"


First view of the Church of St Michael and Snowdrops

St Michael's dates back to the 13th century

The whole of the churchyard was covered in a wonderful snowdrop display.

A few Primroses and Daffodils were also starting to flower.

Lichens on twigs and gravestones. I think the orange coloured one is Xanthoria parietina

We had a quick look round the church. Some of you may remember me mentioning before Nicholas Brome who murdered two people during his life time - his father's murderer and then in 1485 he killed the Parish priest in a fit of rage when he caught him "chockinge his wife under ye chinne". Throughout his life he paid various penances for these murders and he is buried standing up under the entrance at the church South door so that visitors to the church will walk on his head when entering.

This Altar Tomb contains the remains of Sir Edward Ferrers (1465-1535) and his wife Constance (daughter of the above-mentioned Nicholas Brome)

The East Window

Ancient gravestones covered in moss

Sheep in the parkland - no lambs yet!

We popped into Baddesley Clinton briefly to look round the walled garden. Baddesley is a medieval moated manor house which was home to the Ferrers family for 500 years. I must go into the house on one of my visits this year as it has a wonderful history and contains several priest-holes.

Hellebores and Lungwort on sale in the shop and

the flowers on this white Scilla were covered in honey bees.

There were some interesting books displayed in the second-hand bookshop but the presence of B meant I resisted the temptation to browse and buy!

A lovely selection of miniature irises flowering in one of the borders.

No cake this time!

Just as we reached the car it started to rain again so we were lucky that it held off whilst we walked round.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A New "Toy", Recent Reading and Family History

We've always had a minimum/maximum thermometer in the garden and some years ago we bought a basic weather station that recorded current weather, outside and inside temperature, pressure and humidity. We've been toying for ages with the idea of buying a more expensive one that uploads data to the computer and finally we decided to treat ourselves as a Valentine's Day/Belated Wedding Anniversary present. So far we are really pleased with it - it records loads of data - temperature, wind chill, dewpoint, wind speed/gust and direction, pressure, rainfall etc. and the software enables you to analyse the data in many different ways and even produce graphs. As time passes and we have more records it will become even more exciting.

Just after installation - the wires have now been tidied away!

Recent Reading

Usually when a new book by a favourite author comes out I wait for the kindle version to come down in price but I am afraid I just couldn't resist buying the latest Merrily Watkins book by Phil Rickman as soon as it was published and it didn't disappoint!

Common Ground is a superb book with a wonderful sense of place encouraging the reader to look at areas near to home more closely. The author has recently moved from London to a new home in Harrogate and not long after the move he discovers he is to become a father for the first time. The book details his exploration of an area of "edge-land" not far from where he lives and his feelings as he prepares for the birth of his child. I found the whole book magical.

Having finished all the Shetland novels by Ann Cleeves, I have now started reading the Vera Stanhope books. I really enjoyed the first book of the series and can't wait to read the rest.

Family History

I first became interested in researching my paternal family tree many years ago inspired by the usual family stories/myths(?). I then discovered a distant cousin who was a genealogist had already traced the tree back to 1590. He kindly sent me a copy and over the years I have dabbled from time to time trying to fill in extra details. Of course, these days with computers and the internet research can be a lot easier. To take my mind off the problems with my mother's house (sadly, still ongoing - in fact, I have slowly had to accept it is going to take months to resolve the ongoing issues) I've been taking a free online 6 week course with Futurelearn on Genealogy. The course really is excellent and I am learning so much about research methods. It has been pointed out during the course that, even if you have been given a family tree, you should verify the information yourself especially if it is not sourced. Unfortunately, it looks a rather expensive hobby but I have discovered that my library ticket enables me to go along to the library and use one of their computers to access the library's subscription to "Ancestry" and FindmyPast". So once the course has finished I will be doing that to see if it would be worth taking out my own subscription.

Week 5 of the course has covered, among many other things, the important information you can get from local history societies on family history. My ancestors lived in Broseley, Shropshire from around 1590 to 1872, then moved to the Sarnesfield and Kings Pyon area of Herefordshire before finally settling in Hereford. I do wish I had realised about Sarnesfield and Kings Pyon when we had a short break staying at Weobley a few years ago as they were only a few miles away! I've found a really excellent Local History Website for Broseley which has Parish Registers etc. online and was thrilled last night to find the baptism record for my 9 x great grandmother on 8th June, 1590 and then records of her marriage to my 9 x great grandfather 16 years later. I shall explore the website a lot further when I have finished the course! and I see a trip to Broseley being on the cards later in the year.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Winter in a Country Churchyard

I went along to a local churchyard one afternoon last week in search of my first snowdrops of the year.

St John the Baptist at Lea Marston dates back to the 1300's, the porch is 15th century and the chancel and tower were rebuilt in the 1870's. I've never been inside the church as it is kept locked due to a number of thefts that have taken place in the past.

I did find a few clumps of snowdrops in flower around the churchyard.

I wondered if this was the base of what used to be a churchyard cross?

Tomb covered in ivy and brambles. The churchyard is quite a haven for wildlife being surrounded on 2 sides by woodland and in the summer there is a wildflower meadow at the back of the churchyard full of flowers, such as Betony, and buzzing with bees and butterflies.

I spent a lot of time looking at mosses and lichens growing on the tombstones. The mosses in particular looked like miniature worlds.

I've put a few of the moss photos on i-spot and have received some help with id. The species at the bottom of the photo above could be Wall screw-moss (Tortula muralis) and the species in the background towards the top may be Capillary Thread-moss (Bryum capillare)

I think this species (also to be seen in the top two pics) is Grey-cushioned Grimmia (Grimmia pulvinata) and several people have agreed with this id.

Common Feather-moss (Kindbergia praelonga)?

This species could be Bryum dichotomum


I spoke to a couple as I was leaving who mentioned that there was a female yew at the back of the churchyard - so I may go back and check for flowers later this month. They also kindly told me of a local site for Toothwort which I will be checking out later in the year.

I've not spotted this sundial on previous visits.

I've seen lots of Hazel catkins this year but these were the first female flowers, looking like miniature sea-anemones, that I have seen.

This memorial marks a visit by William Gladstone in 1895. It used to have a plaque but was removed after someone tried to steal it!!

If you would like to see my previous visit to the churchyard during summer months please click here

In that post I mentioned I would try to visit the churchyard more often sadly I think this was my first visit since that post! but I will try and go more regularly this year.

Many thanks to i-spot for id help and for confirmation of Grey-cushioned Grimmia.