"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

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

A Local Country Walk


Last week D, E and I went for a local country walk. A lovely sunny day but very cold!  I did consider the usual Shawbury circular walk but parking is SO difficult there and I didn't fancy getting the car stuck on a muddy grass verge so we went to Maxstoke where there is a small car park by the church.

This house was on the market a year or so back - at the top of our budget but it is bigger than it looks as there is an extension at the back. I can't remember what put me off - it may have been an ultra modern kitchen? - all stainless steel (not my cup of tea).

Maxstoke is tiny more of a hamlet than a village containing half a dozen houses, the church, priory and farm.

The church of St Michael and All Angels is Grade II listed and dates back to the 14th century with 18th and 19th century alterations. It was founded by William de Clinton who was born in Maxstoke and later became the Earl of Huntingdon. The church may have been founded as a chantry chapel rather than a church for the priory nearby.

The church is normally closed but we did visit a few years back for a Christmas Tree Festival so if you would like to see inside please see St Michael's, Maxstoke

Fourteenth century churchyard cross

Plants in Walls

Victorian wall letter box in the wall of the 14th century Maxstoke Priory.  (I am currently reading the Shire book on Old Letter Boxes and am somewhat hooked!)

The Priory of Augustinian Canons was founded again by William de Clinton in 1336/37.  He was also responsible for the construction of nearby Maxstoke Castle which we have visited in the past on their annual Open Day.  The Priory was dissolved in 1536 during the Dissolution and the site is surrounded by a surviving sandstone precinct wall.  The gatehouse is shown in the photo below but the rest of the ruins are on the working farm and I think the grounds of the rectory and so not accessible and the Gatehouse had a big Keep Out sign!!! I did see the ruins years ago when a teenager as I had walked there from Coleshill with a couple of friends and the farmer kindly granted us permission.

I did spot some graffiti but no dates so I have no idea how old it is.

The ruins being old there are ghost stories attached to the priory. The priory initially consisted of a prior and 12 canons and its recorded that they failed to live a life of piety but had a rather good time instead watching play actors, jugglers and tumblers and singers.  Many complaints were made about their marauding behaviour and one canon attacked and killed another during a fight.  By the time of the Dissolution only 7 monks remained and it is believed that when they were turned out of the priory they made their way to nearby Fillongley and took up residence at the church there.  Last century there were several reports of ghostly monk sightings in the church.

Ghostly monks have also been seen in the ruins of Maxstoke Priory and chanting has been heard.  

Leaving the church and priory behind we walked around the lanes.

There weren't many birds around although we did hear two gun shots not far away which may explain things. The other thing to mar the walk was the site of dumped rubbish.

Why do people do this? It annoys me SO much.  Surely instead of driving into the countryside they could just drive to the local tip. Although as B has pointed out before it could be if they are a company they could be charged by the tip and they are anxious to avoid this but that is no excuse in my view.

Nearly back at the Priory.

Remains of a medieval fish pond in the grounds of the Old Rectory.

I hope everyone is staying safe and well.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 (D did take a few but they were very similar to mine).


"Ghosts of Warwickshire" by Betty Smith

Pevsner "The Buildings of England Warwickshire" by C Pickford and N Pevsner.


Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely walk and interesting buildings. I bet your copy of Pevsner is much-thumbed. I was looking at one for Powys in Hay last time we were there but it was £25 2nd hand, so my hand was stayed.

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thank you. Pevsner books are v. expensive. New editions I have two - I naughtily bought Warks and used an Amazon gift voucher to buy Herefordshire which was reduced. There are a lot others I would like but SO dear! I do have the old editions 2nd hand of Shropshire and also Worcestershire but they were cheap. Old editions don't seem to have the detail of the new versions.

Midmarsh John said...

Another very interesting expedition. Interesting to notice the church was yet another with a blocked in door way. I wonder what the proportion of such blockages there is for village churces.

Rosie said...

Such a lovely walk and good to have some company too. The village looks fascinating with lots of history and super buildings to see. I think bright and cool is the best weather to walk in. I too am horrified by the litter we see as we walk. Fly tipping is inexcusable but the ordinary litter people just drop around the place is so disappointing and depressing too, plastic bottles, drinks cans, take away trays and masks! I just can't comprehend it. The ruin of the priory looks wonderful. Take care:)

Ragged Robin said...

Midmarsh John - Thanks so much. That is an interesting point about the number of blocked doorways in churches. Thinking of churches I've visited so many have such a feature.

Rosie - Thanks so much. Cold and sunny preferable to rain and mild :) But there was a very cold wind. Yes as you say people drop litter absolutely everywhere. So depressing. There really needs to be a campaign to try and prevent it - sure there was one when I as at school many years ago! The sight of litter on beaches and beauty spots after lockdowns was depressing too.

Rustic Pumpkin said...

A lovely day out. Cold but sunny is better than grey and foggy. Village looks just a lovely place to explore.
Shame about the litter. I wonder if we'll see more fly tipping as opening hours shorten at the tip here?

Ragged Robin said...

Rustic Pumpkin - Thanks so much. Its nice part of Warwickshire round there.
I hope you don't see more. These days you have to book at our local tip due to pandemic I think. According to OH the only recycling of more general rubbish is paper and cardboard.

CherryPie said...

An amazing route for a walk. I love the history but not the litter.

The route a travelled today was riddled with litter.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thanks so much. Its an interesting area of Warwickshire.

Litter these days in so many places seems a problem :(

Millymollymandy said...

Looks a lovely walk and the priory looks really interesting, but such a shame you can’t see more of it. Love seeing all the periwinkles flowering already! I looked at the photos full size as I’ve found that what you see direct on the blog to be inferior quality these days. I’m sure it didn’t use to be like that on Blogger. ???

Totally agree about the rubbish. It’s always workmen dumping old bathrooms, fridges etc. Yes I think it is to avoid paying tip charges. Grrrr. 🤬🤬🤬

Sorry I haven’t sent you a link to the sites that I use for collages yet. Your email is on my desktop and I’m currently having a tea break downstairs in my guest room where I have been painting this week. The site I use the most is called Fotor. You are limited by what you can use for free, but I find what is available is fine. I think it’s pretty easy to use, have a try and any problems send me an email. Within each box for photos you can move your photo around, or zoom in (or both) to make the pics show up best. Offhand I can’t remember the other site I have used but I’ll let you know in due source.

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy Thanks so much.I agree I think photo quality with new blogger is inferior to old one :)

Agreed about the dumped rubbish and reason! :( Makes me so angry.

Please don't worry about email and thanks for name of site. I will look into that one :) If I get stuck will ask son for help :)

Caroline Gill said...

What a beautiful and evocative ruined priory, RR. I also clicked on your photos to enjoy the detail. What a shame though about all the rubbish in another photo ...

I hope you are all keeping well. We are venturing out a bit more in the fresh air these days, while still being very cautious about meeting people indoors. I can't wait to see my first snowdrop of the season, and am delighted to find it is still light around 4.20 when we pop the kettle on for a cup of tea!

Ragged Robin said...

Caroline Gill - Thanks so much and I am pleased you enjoyed the photos :)

Yes we are fine thanks and playing it cautious. I don't go anywhere indoors unless I have to and we are still having shopping delivered.

Looking forward to the first snowdrop here too - soon be time to check in churchyards for them.

Stay safe and take care.

Pam said...

You don't fancy a late night walk to try and prove the existence of the ghostly monks I suppose!! :D The fly tipping is infuriating, our council has a section on it's website where you can report it, it's probably one of the most well used parts of the site! Regardless it looks like a gorgeous day for your walk.

The Quacks of Life said...

looks a great walk :) and didn't understand a comment you left about a new friend. Me being dense :)

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks so much. lol! No, I don't!!!!!! :)

The lanes round there are quite bad for fly tipping :( Thanks will check out North Warwickshire council site and see if they have a section to report tipping.

The Quacks of Life - Thanks Pete - lol! Sorry me being obtuse perhaps? Have left another comment on the post to try and explain more :)