"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, 30 May 2019

Churchyard at St Giles, Sheldon

Last weekend I was doing some family chauffeuring and realised that if I made a slight detour on the way home I could visit one of Birmingham's medieval churches. I thought it might be open as there was a suggestion they offer tea and cakes during the time I would be there. But even if it was closed I could have a wander round the exterior and the churchyard.

The nave of the church dates from around 1330 and the church is made of sandstone. The church was restored in 1867 by Slater and Carpenter and is Grade II listed. From 1690 the Rector was Thomas Bray who later helped to establish the Church of England in Maryland.

The lychgate was erected in 1899 to commemorate the 50th year of Rev. B Jones-Bateman's incumbency as Rector Of Sheldon. He remained as vicar until 1910.

The churchyard was delightful (lots of areas where the grass had not been cut) and full of wild flowers - Buttercups, Campion, Cow Parsley, Daisies, Speedwell and Ribwort Plantain.

The church tower was added in the 15th century.

The gargoyles looked modern.

The porch dates back to the mid 16th century.

A 13th century coffin lid with a long plain calvary cross.

I got my knuckles rapped on Twitter for calling this a Leper's Squint. This is now an outdated theory and the view now is that these windows now called Low Side Windows were used possibly as ventilation or for a handbell to be rung to alert parishioners working in the nearby fields that it was nearly time for mass.

There were some interesting carvings on the exterior East Wall - I am not sure if they are heraldic? although one is an Agnus Dei so perhaps others contain religious symbols too? If you read this post John (Stray Rambler) would love to know your thoughts.

The Pentagon Window seen from the exterior (I would so have liked to have seen it from inside the church) - it is a very unusual shape to find in a church and it is believed to be the only one in Europe. It was re-discovered in 1867 during renovations of the North aisle. It is believed it was walled up by locals at the time Puritans were destroying some items in churches.

At this stage I was approached by a man with a dog - apparently he always bought the dog along to warn off suspicious characters seen in the churchyard!! I am not sure how suspicious a 60 something woman with a limp (my hip was playing up!) and a camera looked!!! However, he was very friendly and I discovered why the church was closed.

Apparently it was a bit of a mess inside as they were having central heating installed otherwise he would have let me in to have a look round inside. I complimented him on all the wild flowers in the churchyard and was told it was of necessity rather than choice. But to me it was lovely to find a churchyard full of wild flowers and birds so I do hope they don't one day re-commence a strict mowing regime.

The West Door

A weathered Green Man??

Possible marks made by Roundhead soldiers during the English Civil War when they were sharpening arrows.

As usual there was an item I missed - there is apparently a bier house containing a Victorian bier cart (used to transport coffins) somewhere along the church walls.

Hopefully, when the church is re-opened I can go back and see the interior of the church.

Information from Church Facebook page

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

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Recent reading, garden update and family history

Recent Reading

I've never watched The Midsomer Murders tv series but recently the programme was in the news (something to do with plaques?) and it made me wonder if the series is based on books. It is - well there are at least half a dozen books- so I thought I would try one and I enjoyed it enough to want to read more of the series.

Every so often I treat myself to a recently published hardback book. As you will all know I do enjoy visiting Cathedrals and churches and I also enjoy books by Christopher Somerville. I really enjoyed the book where he visits 21 cathedrals around the country - what I really liked was the fact that the items he tends to focus on finding in the cathedrals are the sorts of things I would look for myself. He chats to many people connected with the buildings such as deans, tour guides and stone masons. A really interesting read.

This was a re-read - to any one interested in church crawling I would really recommend this book as you can learn such a lot. It is the best general guide to churches I have.

Another Nicky Galena book and another one I loved. I am dreading reaching the end of this series!

The second Joanna Piercy novel - I did find some of the subject matter in this book a little distressing but it is a very atmospheric story.

The Wesley Peterson books just get better and better so many thanks to Rosie from Corners of My Mind who inspired me to try this author (as well as many others!).

I have been waiting eagerly for the next book to come out in paperback. It tells the story of the author's quest to search for the 50 species of wild flower in Britain he is yet to see. Beautifully written and enthralling. Did he succeed? You will have to read the book to find out.

I read most of H E Bates' books many many years ago. Again I never watched the tv series but I did think I would try re-reading this novel. To be honest I am not really sure about the book - at the end of the first chapter I thought if I hear the word "perfick" one more time I will scream! After buying the kindle version I eventually found my H E Bates omnibus so I wont' need to buy any more of the kindle books if I do decide to read any more!

This is a very short book on Anglesey - I did find a few more items of interest but preferred the longer book I read earlier this year which, although repetitive, did give me ideas of many places to visit later in the year.

Garden Update

Sadly the Blue Tit chicks are now down to three but those three finally seem to be thriving.

The first two photos show when there were still five - sorry for the poor quality - it is not easy to take photos of the tv and light was low

The final three. I have still only seen one bird entering the nest box so still suspect something has happened to one of the adults. Usually when both are feeding you quite regularly see both in the box at the same time.

I do love this time of the year in the garden and in the countryside with all the fresh green growth.

In the garden Azaleas and Clematis are flowering and

Forget-me-nots flower for ages.

I was rather annoyed with B the other day as for some unknown reason he decided to chops the buds and flowers off the sage and majoram which are so loved by bees and butterflies and prune the herbs. Luckily thyme escape the cull and the flowers are constantly being visited by honey bees and Early Bumble Bees in particular.

The climbing hydrangea by one of the clematis plants is now flowering as are

Rhododendrons. I know the latter are very invasive in the wild but in the garden they are full of Tree Bumble Bees collecting nectar.

The mini wild flower meadow is now flowering with Meadow Buttercups, Red Campion, Common Sorrel, Yellow Rattle, Ribwort Plantain and Tufted Vetch. More species will flower as the summer approaches - Ox-eye Daisy, Corncockle and Wild Carrot.

Yellow Rattle is really spreading and very slowly controlling the couch grass although as you can see from this photo it has not yet reached the grass in the foreground.

When we first moved in we had a large vegetable patch at the top of the garden. But we found once D and E came along it was hard to find the time to look after it and it also coincided with a time when foxes and cats were constantly digging up the plants and leaving undesirable deposits behind! So in the end B replaced the patch with an area of mini woodland and the mini meadow as seen above.

However, in recent years we have started to grow vegetables again though not in such vast quantities. D's runner beans have now been planted out using the first of the homemade compost.

I discovered two Large Red Damselflies mating in the porch last week. The pond dipping net bought the day before was able to catch them and release them without harm.

Family History

The House Clearance Company removing items from my mum's house a few weeks ago found this album of very old (Victorian?) family portraits and saved it for me.

I have no idea whether the photos are from my mum's or my dad's side of the family although I suspect the former. The photographic studios featured are located all above the place - Edinburgh, Dublin, Hanley, London etc. I know from past family history research that dad's family lived in Broseley Shropshire for centuries before moving to Herefordshire a few hundred years ago so the photos don't really seem to be linked to those areas. Mum's family history I have never traced. Hopefully, when the estate is finally settled and perhaps when the summer is over I might undertake more family history studies and perhaps sign up with one of the genealogy sites.

A few of the photographic studios - details are on the back of the cards and I have been given a website address from Kevin (thank you) on Twitter where I can do some research on the studios.

There are dozens of photos - sadly none, apart from one, are labelled - here are just a few.

This is the only writing in the book and I have so far failed to decipher it!!

Of course, there is always the possibility that the photos are not family but the album came into mum and dad's possession somehow? At the moment I have no idea so it is all a bit of a mystery. I do have a box of very old photos - mainly my father's so it is possible when I find the time to go through it I may find photos of the people who were in the album if they are from Dad's side.