25 November, 2007


A few hours in Northampton seeing the delights of the Greyfriars Bus Station, the market square and the Grosvenor centre.

This picture shows All Saints Church

The next picture shows St John's Church and hall from the 15th Century, which have been converted into a restaurant and so taken off the Buildings at risk register.

19 November, 2007

Everybody's doing it....

So I will too! Every other London Blog has covered the new St Pancras Station, so here's my take on it.
Its got a few reactionary representational statues, including one that wouldn't be out of place in an estate 'gift shop'
It's Blue
It's full of retail outlets (shops and pubs to you and me)
It's got one or two trains as well.
It's a shopping centre with trains- get over it!

11 November, 2007

A weekend in Lincolnshire: Lincoln, Woodhall Spa, Horncastle and an old moated house

The ancient city of Lindum (now known as Lincoln).

Under constant surveillance by video camera I strolled this ancient city set on a hill, with a castle, a cathedral minster dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and a very steep hill called Steep Hill. Lincoln is an old Roman town which came into its own in maedieaval times.

I walked up the hill to the newport gate, calling in at a rather primitive public lavatory, possibly maedieaval, admiring the buildings and the rather excessively expensive bookshops. The books I did buy came from charity shops, rather good value too. Steep Hill also has the Jews House and the next door Jews court. These are romanesque buildings from the twelfth century and was home to some members of the Jewish congregation in Lincoln. Like many maedieval towns Lincoln murdered some of its jews after one of them confessed under torture that jews crucified a christian child every year. I'm not sure who was more stupid - the jew for telling such an appalling lie thing or the torturers for believing him. Eighteen jews of Lincoln were put to death in the Tower of London. Barbarous cruelty and ignorance in Merrie England. The jews house now contains a bookshop and the head quarters of the Lincolnshire local history society.

The Tourist Information Office, Leigh Pemberton house is named after the chairman of the National Westminster Bank who presented the old house to Lincoln. Here as a carved figure on the cornerpost.

The Lincoln town hall is a maedieval gate house called the Stonebow.

The Romanesque cathedral was rebuilt and extended, although some of the romanesque arches are present in the Bell tower and the bellringers chapel. I looked round the Cathedral and saw the tiny Lincoln Imp. I also went on the roof tour up above the vaulting and under the lead, although I did go out onto the leads. The roof is just held on by its own weight. It's pretty heavy though...

There are some Duncan Grant murals in one of the cathedral chapels.

After this there was time to kill before Evensong and, as Lincoln suffers from the provincial disease that no-one is hungry between half past two and six I had to go into a pub and drink beer while waiting for Browns Pie Restaurant to open. I had a pie which wasn't a proper pie but a casserole with crust and felt rather cheated. It were a good casserole but it warn't a pie.

Evensong on Friday for The feast of Margery Kempe - the patron saint of this blog - (look her up) and a celebration of a golden wedding of a couple who were married in 1947. I was a little late after my pie and didn't get to sing the opening hymn, but we had a creed, even though it was not printed in the service booklet. I refuse to face east for a creed if that is not the way I am facing. An omnipresent Lord does not require a particular orientation. The setting was by Batten and Tallis and the choir was for mens and boys voices. I was carrying (a lot of) photographic equipment for a completely different purpose, and someone asked me not to take pictures during the service. I assured them that that was not my intention.

After Evensong I walked around the darkling city. I should have set up my tripod to take pictures of the floodlit cathedral but wasn't inclined to do so, and probably could not have done so with the lack of light. I found a Wetherspoons 'The Ritz' and had their tasting ales, being diddled out of a penny by the barmaid. It must mount up over an evening, but I can't think it does the pub any good. I met up with Mark, Ken and Colin at the station and travelled by train and taxi to an old mellow brick moated manor house from the 15th century, with drinks in front of a roaring fire in the 'drawing room, and then to bed.

Woodhall Spa

Woodhall Spa was developed as a spa in the 19th century after unsuccessful coal prospecting. The empty mineshaft filled up with water rich in iodine and bromine which was found useful for the cure of rheumatism and lots of other diseases according to the British Spas Federation handbook of the 1920s.
The pump room is now derelict and almost ruinous but the small kinema in the wood and the tea house are still operational and serving the needs of visitors and residents.

There is a prefabricated bungalow that serves as the spa museum, although it was closed when we called.

The British Spas Federation in its 1920s handbook regarded Woodhall as a restful spa, suitable for those who needed a rest. The spa specialised in diseases of the rich until the National Health Service made spa treatment available to all, until it went out of fashion.


Bricky market town with quite a lot of antique and secondhand bookshops. There is a stone built church with a squat tower topped by a spire. We had dinner in the Admiral Rodney Best Western Hotel, and good value it was too. and then had a look around the antique shops. I didn't buy anything as there was nothing I fancied, but it was quite a pleasant afternoon.

I stayed at a Grade I-listed moated manor house with five bedrooms, three staircases and a great hall, set in one and a half acres. Arthur Mee mentions it in his Kings England guide to Lincolnshire and the Telegraph has an article about it when it was for sale, which tells of its "Numerous architectural treats, including three feet thick walls, quoins and stone mullion windows." This is quite true.

Kirkstead Abbey and St Leonards church

I also visited the 13th century church of St Leonard,

which is situated near to Kirkstead abbey. Kirkstead was a large and imposing abbey that rebelled against the dissolution and the principal churchmen were executed for treason and the abbey demolished. All that remains is a corner of the transcept. A reminder not to defy the King. Ozymandias comes to mind in this corner.