"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

Saturday 20 April 2024

April Visit to Herefordshire - Part 2: St Leonard's Churchyard


As mentioned in the last post on Friday afternoon D and I travelled the short distance to the church of St Leonard's.  I do like visiting this churchyard as in Spring and Summer it is full of wild flowers.

The bank by the church was absolutely full of Lesser Celandine flowers.

Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) is a member of the buttercup family and flowers between March and May.  It is one of the first wild flowers to appear in early Spring and is found in woodland, hedgerows and along stream banks.  The flowers close when it is cold or wet and re-open when the sun re-appears.

In the Language of flowers it represents "joys to come".  Local names include Star Flower, Bright Eye, Golden Stars, Golden Guineas, Pilewort and Golden Daisies.  

St Leonard's is the third oldest church in Herefordshire. The Nave is C11th and may even be pre-Conquest.  The church was extended to the West in the C14th when the chancel was probably built.

The churchyard was full of Primroses - one of my favourite flowers.

Primroses (Primula Vulgaris)  flower from March to May although the flowers can appear as early as December. They can be found on grassy banks, in woodland and hedgerows and in churchyards.

In the Middle Ages it was believed eating a primrose flower would give children the power to see fairies.  Primrose tea was made to ease the pain of gout, rheumatism and migraine. In the 17th and 18th centuries candied primrose flowers were often used to decorate cakes and desserts. An infusion of primrose flowers was believed to be good for insomnia - perhaps I should try some!

Primroses are an Ancient Woodland indicator plant and are insect pollinated.  They are the food plant of caterpillars of the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly. 

The 19th of April is Primrose Day.

The timber West Porch is partly C14th and the bell turret may be medieval although the weather boarding dates from 1903.

We wandered round the churchyard at the rear of the church seeing loads more Primroses, Lesser Celandines and Daisies.

This tree had a nesting box for owls and also a bat box.  It really is good to see a churchyard that does so much to encourage wildlife.

The blocked North doorway is early Norman and the lintel has three large stones. The Tympanum above consists of Opus reticulatum  ie square stones set diagonally.

Late C11th herringbone masonry.

It was good to visit the church again. I think the last time was when D and I went in the church to look at the Harvest Festival displays last autumn.  We've talked about visiting at sunset  with the bat detector to look for signs of bats.  It is only about a quarter of mile from the caravan site so easy to get to.

Timothy enjoying being back on his shelf.


On the Saturday D and I popped to Burford House Gardens nurseries and I'll write about that in the next post.

Photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera and the last photo was taken by D with the Canon SX50HS bridge camera. (I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one of mine or my son's I would be grateful for an email first - thanks).

Reference: "Buildings of England Herefordshire" by A Brookes and N Pevsner, Yale University Press 2017.

"Britain's Wild Flowers" A Treasury of Traditions, Superstitions , Remedies and Literature by Rosamond Richardson.


Rustic Pumpkin said...

Primrose is one of my favourite springtime flowers too, especially the pale yellow ones. My particular favourite, in the same family, is cowslip. Primroses were indeed very, very popular from mediaeval times onwards for culinary purposes. I have a recollection of reading somewhere that they were put in flans and pies and all kinds of things. A Primrose Flan was quite the thing. However, the popularity of the Primrose in cooking almost caused its downfall by all accounts. They were picked not merely by the handful, but by the jug or basket full. By Victorian days they were quite scarce.
Nice to see Timothy. He's looking very bright and cheerful.

CherryPie said...

Hello Timothy :-)

The churchyard looks beautiful with its spring flowers in bloom.

Ragged Robin said...

Rustic Pumpkin - Thanks so much. I like cowslips too :) It is interesting that Primroses were over collected to the extent that they became scarce in Victorian times. In Herefordshire there were a lot on the grass verges as well as in churchyards.
So relieved I remembered Timothy!

Ragged Robin said...

Cherry Pie - Thanks so much and Timothy says hello :)

Rosie said...

What a beautiful churchyard, lovely for it to be full of Primroses and like Snowdrops they seem in the right place when you see them amongst the graves. Lovely to have the Lesser Celandines along the banks too - a gentle riot of Spring colour. The church building is fascinating. Look forward to reading about your visit to Burford House Gardens:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much. I always enjoy looking at wild flowers in that particular churchyard - in fact many in Herefordshire are "Living Churchyards" with wilder areas.

The Quacks of Life said...

looks an interesting church. have you been in?

Ragged Robin said...

The Quacks of Life - Thanks so much and yes I have a couple of times. Churchyard only visits have been more frequent. Last visit inside was last October will try and copy a link to post if I can. https://raggedrobinsnaturenotes.blogspot.com/2023/10/herefordshire-2023-october-visit-part-6.html

The Wessex Reiver said...

Absolutely love celandine - for me that is the true sense of spring and then they just 'disappear' (my love of snowdrops is late winter, in my book anyway LOL). I never knew that folklore about primrose and seeing fairies. Something to try next year maybe...

Ragged Robin said...

The Wessex Reiver - Thanks so much. I agree with you about celandine - there is something so bright and cheerful about them. It would be interesting to see about primroses and fairies :)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Sadly, the celandine is over in my part of the world, but there's plenty of other wildflowers on show here

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks so much for the comment. So many wild flowers coming into flower now :)

Millymollymandy said...

I like that church - very simple but with the unusual wooden bit at the top and some interesting building styles like the herringbone stones and the diagonal square stones. Love all the wildflowers and you give interesting information about them which I enjoy. Candied primroses sound nice!

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so much. I love that church and churchyard I really do - never tire of going up there to see what is flowering. I can recommend the book by Rosamond Richardson mention in references on Wild Flowers - a lovely and very interesting book.

Billy Blue Eyes said...

I did like the look of the church, steeped in history. The churchyard looks a nice one to with the flowers

Ragged Robin said...

Billy Blue Eyes - Thanks so much. Its a lovely churchyard which I visit a lot and a wonderful church.