Sunday, December 18, 2005

Kent - 18 December 2005

Quintain on the green at OffamSunday dawned fine and frosty again. After church we set off to Offham, a cute village with many fine oust-houses, to see their quintain or jousting pole. This is the only remaining example in the country. In medieval times the quintain on the village green was used by knights for jousting practice. The post has a revolving arm with a flat target at one end and a sandbag at the other. The knight had to strike the target with his lance and then get out of the way of the sandbag as it swung around. What was surprising was the height of the target, just under 3m off the ground. I guess that is the height of the chest of a man on horseback.

C14th bridge at AylesfordThe next stop was Aylesford. This very picturesque village has a 14th century bridge across the Medway River. The views made us feel we were in Europe in a fine medieval village. Murray on the bridgeLunch was a Sunday roast at the Chequers. Then a walk to The Friars, a beautifully preserved Carmelite Monastery which is open to the public.

Our real focus of the trip was to see Leeds Castle’s Christmas decorations by candlelight. Leeds CastleThe castle is extremely photogenic, but the layer of ice prevented the chance for perfect reflections in the castle’s moat from most viewpoints. The castle was full of lovely Christmas floral decorations. Like Waddesden, they have a splendid aviary, and several of my favorite birds – toucans. Toucan look either wayAs we left the castle we saw a swan manfully (or is that swanfully) cracking its way through the ice on the moat. Swan breaking the ice We finished the day with an excellent carol service at St Cuthbert’s on a traditional frosty December evening.

No comments: