Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Love of the Tudors

Sometimes information jumps out of a page and makes your heart skip.  Information that you never thought would come out of a regular document and hit a note with you. As regular readers know, I love capturing history, being close and personal to buildings with incredible architecture, and standing near last resting places of people whose historical lives are well read and inspiring.  As I read a document at work, the words of  "the final resting place of Oliver Cromwell's wife, Elizabeth, are buried here" jumped out at me and I knew I had to arrange to see this.  It took a while for me to continue reading the remaining pages.  So, are you ready for a history lesson and some visual proof of where she lays?  ... and an incredible look at where a certain Queen lost her head towards the end of this post?  Well, let me take you by the hand and let's start our journey through history...

Oliver Cromwell, The Lord Protector, used to visit his daughter Elizabeth and son in law, John Claypole, at Northborough Manor for his Christmas. After Oliver's death in 1659, John Claypole provided shelter for his mother in Law, also named Elizabeth, until she died in 1665.  She was buried at St Andrews Church in Northborough, which is just across the road to the Manor (currently for sale and if you have £1.5 million to spare, the link to this amazing Manor is here).  St Andrew's Church was originally erected at the end of the 12 century  and measured around 22 feet square with a lofty double bell-cote which is one of the only three surviving local churches with this feature (others at Peakirk and Werrington).  The original Norman West Wall can be seen both inside and outside the building and the church has had additions throughout the centuries with the South Porch added in Tudor times and the two bells, the treble bell dated 1611 and the tenor bell c. 1360.

Once inside,  we were taken to Elizabeth's stone that marks her tomb, which is in the centre of the floor of the Chantry.  Its words worn away over time but a feast to our eyes that a few letters were still visible such as the two 'l's' for I presume 'Cromwell'.

Her slab is set into the walkway, and obviously so many people over the years have walked over her not realising her importance to such a notable man of British history.  However, this is what I love about the tactile side of history and rediscovering things that are just the ordinary to others.

Above the plaque to Elizabeth Cromwell are two wall Canopies of Caen stone with pedestals beneath which may have been for statues.  The Canopies were used as a design for the Choir Stalls in Peterborough Cathedral.

Peterborough Cathedral Choir Stalls @ Sweetbriar Dreams

Also within the Chantry against the wall is the tomb of Martha Claypole, the grandaughter of Oliver and Elizabeth Cromwell (interesting document on the Claypoles here).  The church has monuments to the Claypole family who were passed the Manor of Northborough through James Claypole (Cleypole) who bought this for the sum of £500.  The estate was passed down the line of the family through the years and eventually most of the family emigrated to America and many Claypool or Claypoole's living in America today are descended from James Claypole.  Cornelius and Reginald Vanderbilt were descendants of Alice Claypoole and Reginald married Gloria Morgan and their daughter was Gloria Vanderbilt.

One of the churchwardens that were kindly giving us this tour was also the organist, so we were treated to admiring the rare organ that was built by John Avery in 1783.  1783!!  This was obtained for the Church from Apethorpe Hall which is in the vicinity.

Looking up (as I do) the wood above us, so old, so telling, the heads that it has protected over the centuries.

A beautiful and friendly church with two churchwardens who were incredibly knowledgeable and patient with us and our thirst for history.

Outside and more history lover treasures... the gravestones of some of the family of the poet John Clare.  Clare was a troubled poet who eventually died in an asylum.  He was born in nearby Helpston and his wife, Martha (Patty), is buried here, who died accidentally in a house fire.

AND NOW... after lunch in Stamford at the London Inn (very apt for me!), a nice surprise of a drive to Fotheringhay... the place where Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded!!

It would be very easy to miss, and we did at first, but if you ever go to the village, as you approach the bridge over the river, look to your right and you will see a mound.  Park up in the village and then it will be a little walk to this site that was Fotheringhay Castle.

Only this mound remains of the castle grounds along with the earthworks and some protected masonry which is a monument to the execution of Mary.  More information is written here which is fascinating.  Stone from the Castle was used to build The Talbot Inn in Oundle.

I always find it heartwarming when a monument still has people leaving flowers and this place, desolate, peaceful next to the River Nene was incredibly atmospheric.

This masonry, marking a specific spot, somewhere that history lovers read about, a significant moment in history.  Mind blowing, incredible, tactile.  A quiet atmospheric place.  The extraordinary in the ordinary.

The memorial showing just how deep the walls were to this Castle/Prison.

Imagining her last moments before she gave her life.

This beautiful, tranquil place, the River Nene lapping against the bridge...

Fotheringhay Church beginning to reflect the impending sunset...

The landscape so calming and incredible.

A beautiful and inspiring place and one that was just perfect to watch the sunset take place before our eyes and reflect on the day and the history we had seen and experienced.

A wonderful, wonderful day, and gone far too quickly!!

I hope that you have enjoyed this history lesson as much as I did capturing the moments and writing them for you.

Have a wonderful weekend and week ahead dear Readers.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Night Time at the Cathedral

Now, before I start this post properly, I need to say "don't shoot the messenger".  This post is about an event held at Peterborough Cathedral and after posting a couple of my shots on social media there were a couple of negative comments because the Cathedral hosted an event that was show casing cars.  I can understand if some find this a bit uncomfortable, however how I saw this was that the Cathedral was absolutely full of different faiths, ages, races etc all in awe of their surroundings.  The Cathedral was alive!  And, as a personal opinion, it was a wonderful sight to see.  So, please view this post through my eyes... someone who loves to see history up close and personal, not in books, someone who loves meeting people from all walks of life and enjoying their story, someone who will capture positivity and life that makes her smile.  So, to stop any debate on a negative front, I have decided not to have comments this week, my blog is a positive one, one about my photography and not one to bring my readers down.  A bit radical I know, but there is enough negativity in this world and I personally don't like to read about it.  So, if you are still with me, come along with me and let me take you by the hand to an event in Peterborough Cathedral, an event that was presented so well and very well attended...

My goal was to be on one of the Tower Tours, to climb the centuries old circular stairs while the events took place below me.  Mr Teen was going to drool over the cars which were currently shrouded, just giving a tempting glimpse of what was underneath.

It was heartwarming to see so many people descend on the Cathedral and to hear it filled with life.

The exquisite choir in their red robes getting ready for the main event.  I can't tell you how beautiful it was to hear them from above.

The Tower Tour is not for the lighthearted, it is a climb, it is very narrow in places and some negotiating will need to be conquered.  If you are tall it may feel as though you are in Alice in Wonderland with the small doorways and unforgiving stone archways where you may bang your head (I'm 5' 2 .5" and I did!!), but the view from the top is breathtaking!

Let's make a start up some stairs (around 156 altogether) and look at this magnificent building from above.  The centuries of different footwear treading these stairs as they circled around and around, feeling as though they are never ending.  Common sense not Health and Safety overkill reigns while treading in the steps of our forefathers.

Halfway up and a little breather,  I took full advantage of looking at the event from up high at the triforium and wasn't disappointed with the nave full and the choir in full song.

While going around the different levels, you come across various beautiful pieces of history, such as some huge templates for the different piers...

The views below are stunning, simply stunning!  The architecture is awe inspiring.  Almost 900 years of tactile history.

More stairs, hand rails helping, difficult negotiations and then onto the Crossing Tower!  Are you ready for a test of heights?... the shrouds ready to be removed for the reveal of the new BMW 5 Series and Mini Countryman...

But, the reason I was here was the view that you get from this level.  The Crossing Tower along with its beautiful ceiling was built in the 14th Century and then again by the Victorians.

In 1643 the Cathedral suffered as part of the Civil War and in 1883 restoration work began with the High Altar and mosaic floor being added.

And then, some more stairs, a small door... the main reason I came on the tour this evening... the top of the Cathedral, outside!  Peterborough in the evening!!  Stunning!!

I stood here for longer than I should really but I wanted to see this, to experience the beauty of this centuries old building knowing that I had walked around those turrets at the front (post here and here).  Sharing the moment with those who would really appreciate it.

Below us, the Cathedral was buzzing, cameras were busy and, amazingly, today two of my photos were used in The Times as part of a report on the Cathedral and the bold decision to host this event (the link is here)!  A very happy blogger!

The Tower Tour is £10.  Money very well spent!

Have a wonderful weekend and week ahead.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Flirtation of Spring

As I type this post, the sun is streaming in, something that I haven't seen for days!  The sap has been rising, the birds are starting their dawn chorus again and the morning's light greets me a little earlier.  Spring is making an appearance after a very dark and damp winter however, winter's bony fingers still clutch for a little longer making me impatient for that magical turn of the month.

The camera has been quiet again this week with the greyness of the season which is never a good thing to capture.  How I wish there could be two doses of Autumn rather than the plain and emptiness of the last throes of Winter.

Winter's veil is slowly rising, the mist gradually revealing the light brown sap in the established trees branches.  The wildlife opening one eye very gingerly, then pressing the snooze button for a little longer.

Spring is deliciously close, flirting with me and less than a handful of weeks away.  The camera card will need to be emptied and a new season to capture with new places and experiences to explore!

If you are in the Peterborough area next week, the Cathedral have an event that you may be interested in (the link is here).  This is the launch of the latest BMW 5 Series and the new Mini Countryman.  For car lovers this will be a fantastic event with the portico doors being opened earlier in the day for the cars to drive into the Cathedral.  There will also be a rooftop tour if you have a head for heights!!  One for my camera I feel!

Have a wonderful weekend.

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