Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bridges & Churches of English counties – 11 December 2010

Everywhere we visit in England is steeped in history. This weekend we kept meeting references to Hereward the Wake and also King John. There are names like these that we have heard of, but would be hard pushed to give a synopsis of their lives.

We took the scenic route on our way to Stamford for the weekend. Stamford is a delightful stone town at the northern end of the Cotswold Stone seam and is much loved by period film directors. The route we took passed through several similar styles of towns, although on a smaller scale. First, Titchmarch, with it's stylish church surrounded by a ha-ha, normally seen around a country home. Then Oudle, a lovely town with a prestigious boys school owed by the Worshipful Company of Grocers, many cafes and today a street market selling country delights like rabbit or game bird pies.

The final town in this series before we arrived at Stamford, was Wansford. A curving stone bridge unites the two halves of this picturesque town.

From Stamford we drove a circular tour along the edge of the fens (large flat areas, where the frequent church spires stand out like beacons), to Crowland. We have previously enjoyed visiting this lovely old town with two special items of interest; the remains of a triangular medieval bridge, and the abbey. The current church is in one isle of the old ruined abbey. It is this church that had the first peal of bells installed in about 986, the ropes are the longest in the country and these bells were the first to be broadcast on radio in 1923.

We really enjoyed our delicious lunch in the 'Old Copper Kettle' tearooms in Crowland where they quote an airman who met his girlfriend there during WWII and said it was a “place where we both felt secure and could be ourselves”.

Not far from here is another abbey incorporated into the present church at Thorney. The town has the main street lined with model workers cottages built by the Duke of Bedford to house his workers.

We finished the day in Stamford, enjoying exploring the narrow streets and shops decorated for Christmas, and were inspired by the sunset to rework the old saying – red vapour trails at night; motorists delight.

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