23 August, 2008

Great Dunmow - another long way to church

Another meadieval town with a bad bus service: I had to change at Stansted Airport. My mate was also being Mr Grumpy today. After lunch in the Saracen's Head - the chefs interpretation of nouvelle cuisine for the value conscious we had a look round the town.

There is a Tudor town hall and a pond on the village green, which was used by a Mr Lionel Lukin to test lifeboats. Funnily enough the vicar of Romsey from 1860, a Mr Edward Lyon Berthon also designed lifeboats.

I saw an old house at the end of the village with gables and a cupola, but the bust of a woman that Arthur Mee mentions as being above a window has gone, or it is not that house. The church is set a long way from the village but is well worth the little walk. Well proportioned with a fine chancel arch, the church is a lovely space, although the vicar expressed regret that the church had been, as he put it, vandalised in various periods in its history.
There is a unique south gallery over the door (as you can see in the picture) which was originally a guild chapel and then a family pew. Now it is just a chapel in the church

17 August, 2008

Southampton (Weston) and Netley

The Weston part of Southampton is across the River Itchen from Southampton, crossing the Itchen Toll Bridge which some see as a barrier and others as a quick and easy crossing into town.
If you're walking you go free. Weston is trying to be a seaside resort with shelters on the rather stony beach on the rather polluted Southampton Water. These have recently been done up with scenes from Southampton's history including the second world war bombing (!) although they lack the old (1980s) slogan of the city 'Southamp-tons more'. My usual walk leads from Sholing to Woolston, down to the shore, up to Netley (more later) and back via Mayfield Park. mayfield park has an obelisk in it bearing the legend 'The earth is the LORD'S and the fullness thereof'. It is a memorial to a whig politician although you'd never know it, mostly just an eye catcher in a bleak part of the park. Mayfield park always seems as though it has a time warp in it because walking through it seems to deliver me with speed to my destination (Thanks Jon and Ray!). It's always much quicker than walking towards it.

Netley is a little village on Southampton Water with a ruined abbey, not as fortunate as Romsey - perhaps they couldn't afford the price if it was the same. Closed at all times except Sundays from 1300-1600 due to antisocial behaviour among the ruins (my mind boggles - What on earth are people doing there?).

The ruins are quite intact as is Netley Castle, once a convalescent home but now a private block of flats with the gardens suitably fenced. Once they were open for all to wander at will.

16 August, 2008

Romsey - Another prosperous market town

Romsey in Hampshire is dominated by its abbey, remarkably intact for a Romanesque church as it was bought for £100 at the dissolution for use as a parish church for the town. As a consequence of this it has no endowments so no money for rebuilding over subsequent centuries.

With only time for the briefest look at the church, including the saxon woman's hair that was found in a lead coffin, all the rest of her having decayed, and the briefest time to look around the town, which is quite dominated by the Mountbatten family (formerly Battenburg)Romsey would no doubt repay another visit.

09 August, 2008

Tottenham Walthamstow and Ilford

Tottenham has Bruce Castle museum within its boundaries, however the opening hours are not for early birds. Wed-Sun 1pm-5pm. So when I arrived at 1100 on Saturday I was disappointed and not really prepared to hang around for another three hours. So I went off to Walthamstow to the William Morris Gallery, which proclaims itself as the only museum dedicated to the life and work of William Morris. William Morris had his childhood home in Walthamstow, when it was nice, and this has been transformed into a museum of his life’s work. This includes furnishing, fabrics, stained glass and wallpaper. The museum also contains pictorial art and a room for temporary exhibitions.

I also went to have a look at Walthamstow Town Hall a 1930s sub totalitarian style building with a pool outside, similar to Rugby Town Hall but bigger with a clock tower and in Portland stone. The technical college next door has sculptural panels depicting activities such as music and swimming that take place (or once did) in the college.

The weather was not promising so I took a bus to Ilford where I got rained on and heartily sick. The Redbridge Borough Museum, which wasn’t bad, displayed a lying notice stating that it’s lunch hour was from 1pm-2pm. On this occasion the museum did not open until 10 past.

Having become sick of Ilford I got on a bus to go back but then noticed that the chapel of St Mary’s hospital, Ilford’s oldest building, was open that day. St Mary’s Hospital was founded as a leper hospital and became an almshouse after the lepers moved out on the dissolution. The flats were made new in 1927, and the chapel was in use as a tea room and market. It wasn’t very interesting.