Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Beauty of Nature in Stained Glass - Lydiard Millicent

All Saints Church at Lydiard Millicent

The beautiful stained glass window in All Saints Church at Lydiard Millicent
A blackbird, thrush and robin at the bottom of the window. Swallows in flight and the dove of peace. In each of the trees there are more birds - another blackbird, a small brown bird in the blossom tree and blue-tits in the silver birch. At the top of each panel there is the sun, moon and stars.

Details from the bird window in All Saints Church - a blackbird and thrush amid spring flowers, bluebells, crocuses, daffodils and celandines.

The Walled Garden at Lydiard House

Iris like a goddess bold
Purple drapes her beauty so
That her magic men may know
From her still pool rising cold
Scarlet Salvias swoon and drift
Heavy with their maddening bloom
Silver sanctuaries of gloom
Their heads the dew-sheathed peonies lit
These drunken Pagans sing all night
All but an enchanted row
Of hollyhocks that grow and grow
By the house-wall out of sight
Not a sound or note they make,
But they're growing, growing fast
Skywards they are marching past
Pinks and foxgloves in their wake.
(WJ Turner 1889 - 1946)

At the centre of the Garden is a sun dial (a replica of the original)

How well the skilful Gardner drew
Of flow'rs and herbes this Dial new;
Where from above a milder Sun
Does through a fragrant Zodiack run;
And, as it works, th'industrious Bee
Computes its time as well as we,
How could such sweet and wholsome Hours
Be reckon'd but with herbs and flow'rs!
(From The Garden - Anrew Marvell 1621 - 1678)

I had the pleasure of spending some time in this beautiful, walled garden today. Out for a walk with a friend, we returned via Lydiard Park and, whilst the rest of the park was relatively busy being the first day of the school holidays and gloriously sunny, the walled garden at Lydiard House was a place of peace and tranquility.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Hinton Parva (Little Hinton) and St. Swithun's Church

St Swithun's Church - to quote Alfred Williams from Villages of the White Horse [written 1913]
"The pretty church stands adown the slope at the foot of the hill, in the midst of a group of picturesque chalk-built cottages and farmhouses, out of sight of the highway, except the red-tiled roof of the tower, which rises up and peeps over the tops of the trees and cottage chimneys. The little building is very ancient, Saxon in style, quaint without and within, with round arches, beautifully carved oak woodwork, centuries old, and old fashioned box-pews, the whole pervaded with a sense of calm peacefulness ........" Alfred Williams wrote this in 1913 and, having wandered in last week whilst on a Ridgeway walk, I have to agree. Nearly 100 years later the little church still retains the same sense of peace and simplicity.

The 11th century arches within St Swithun's Church

The font in St Swithun's Church

The information inside the church describes this as a Saxon font, however, unsure that this was the case I checked with some knowledgeable people on the Avebury Forum who confirmed that this style of font is actually early Norman. Many thanks to all who aswered my enquiry.

The Coomb

Thanks to Pippa, my delightful walking companion of a few days ago, for showing me this place. A deep ancient coomb, possibly formed by the 'run-off' from glacial melt at the end of the Ice Age. In the background a field of blue-gey linseed crop can be seen and along the banks of the coomb grew cornflowers - the first I have seen this year.
Hinton Parva or Little Hinton as now been designated as a Conservation Area by Swindon Borough Council.

Saturday, 5 July 2008


The most picturesque village in north Wiltshire, Bishopstone nestles at the bottom of Cowtail Coomb underneath Charlbury Hill. Its village pond is fed by streams running off the Downs and it was once renowned locally for its watercress beds. Alfred Williams refers to them in his lovely little book Villages of the White Horse (first published in 1913). He also informs us that many of the ancient thatched cottages are built of chalk.

We spotted a, now quite rare, water-vole busying itself in one of the streams, completely unaware of our presence.

Just a short journey from bustling Swindon and the motorway, it is immensely peaceful and timeless.....

A wooden (weathered) carving of stags in rut tucked away in the shrubbery

The old water mill

The parish church of Bishopstone, St Mary the Virgin
The parish church is Norman in origin though only a doorway in the north chancel remains. There are also the remains of a medieval stained glass window plus a beautiful modern stained glass window depicting the Wiltshire landscape see

Wanborough and the Village Church

There are only three churches in the country that have both a spire and a tower. One is quite close on the other side of Swindon at Purton, the other is in Ormskirk in Lancs.
According to Alfred Williams in his book Villages of the White Horse "Here, according to well-maintained tradition, stood an old heathen temple, used by the sun-worshippers; and here, on the identical site, stands the grey old church today, the tower and steeple of which rise high above the valley, and are visible for many miles in the country round about"

The front entrance to St Andrew's Church in Wanborough

Wanborough is a short bus ride from Swindon town centre (Nos. 46/47). The name comes from 'wain' meaning cart and Wanborough was once a village of far greater importance than it is today as it was the last settlement near the old Roman road, Ermin Street, before the scarp slope of the the Marlborough Downs and the ancient track, the Ridgeway. It consists of three levels - Upper Wanborough (where the church is situated), Lower Wanborough, and Wanborough Marsh.
Referring again to Alfred Williams' Villages of the White Horse
"The village of Wanborough is one of the most ancient in the whole island. Long before Julius Ceasar set foot in on English shore there was a settlement here, on the hilltop looking to the west over Swindon, which was probably a fortified camp ages before the one contructed on Liddington Hill opposite."