17 April 2014

Leicestershire

The Frank Whittle Memorial roundabout in Lutterworth
On our leisurely drive back from London, we paused in a delightful Leicestershire village called Dunton Bassett. Inside the ancient village church, we chatted with two elderly women who had lived their entire lives in Dunton Bassett. They pointed at the medieval stone font and said that they had both been christened there and one of the women said that both of her parents and her grandparents and her three children had also been christened in that same font. I find something very attractive and natural about that kind of belonging to a place. It is a dying phenomenon in the modern world where lives and families are often spread like seeds on the wind.
Dunton Bassett parish church
After Dunton Bassett, we stopped at Narborough where I was hoping to buy an old cast iron pub table from a company called Trent Pottery. In the event the tables turned out to be modern imitations so we left and carried on to Leicester. Round the outer ring road and then onwards to a town we had never visited before - Melton Mowbray - famous for Stilton cheese and pork pies.

We bought a handmade pork pie from Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe and had a delightful traditional afternoon tea in Mis B's Tea Shop on the High Street - Victorian tea pot and a strainer for the tea leaves. Through the window we could see the impressive tower of St Mary's Church - especially praised by the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner.
The Regal Cinema - Melton Mowbray
"The Generous Briton" pub in Melton Mowbray
Fourteenth century alabaster tomb in St Mary's Church - Melton Mowbray
Caption on shoppe - Melton Mowbray
The town's free guide sheet claimed that the expression "To paint the town red" originated in Melton Mowbray:-

...a tale dating from 1837. It is said that year is when the Marquis of Waterford and a group of friends ran riot in the Leicestershire town of Melton Mowbray, painting the town's toll-bar and several buildings red.

That event is well documented, and is certainly in the style of the Marquis, who was a notorious hooligan. To his friends he was Henry de la Poer Beresford; to the public he was known as 'the Mad Marquis'. In the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he is described as 'reprobate and landowner'. His misdeeds include fighting, stealing, being 'invited to leave' Oxford University, breaking windows, upsetting (literally) apple-carts, fighting duels and, last but not least, painting the heels of a parson's horse with aniseed and hunting him with bloodhounds. 

After two hours, it was time to leave Melton Mowbray and head back Up North, through Broughton Astley, Nether Broughton and the curiously named Ab Kettleby. Earlier we had stopped briefly at Frisby on the Wreake. Such evocative names! Onwards to Nottingham and thence to the M1 which leads to the land of milk and honey - Yorkshire, my Yorkshire. Ahhh!
View across a rape field to Frisby on the Wreake

18 comments:

  1. The memorial looks like a hugely clever barrage balloon

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    1. It does look as though it has been inflated doesn't it? But it is made of steel. Frank Whittle developed his famous jet engines in the town.

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  2. YP ~ I could almost emigrate after reading this ~ except there are no palm trees and sandy beaches (kangaroos and Holden cars) to coin an old Aussie advertising campaign. http://aso.gov.au/titles/ads/football-meat-pies-holden-cars/clip1/

    I hope you and Shirley have a very Happy Easter.

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    1. Ha! Ha! I loved the clip Carol. I never realised that Australia was such a cultured place! And you won't be allowed to emigrate here as you are not a Slovakian gipsy or an economic migrant from Iraq or Kurdistan.

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  3. Love the old churches YP and how an English landscape is not complete without a church steeple. Sigh.....Think I need another English holiday soon !

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    1. Greedy girl! You are off to Italy and you want more! But England will be waiting for you.

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  4. Great pictures, and seeing such places makes me look forward to my upcoming holiday (end of May, early June) even more.
    The continuity described by the two ladies you met at the church is something few people will experience today. Last year in November, my godmother's Golden Wedding anniversary saw me back at the church where I was christened, for the first time in over 40 years - and I live less than 10 miles away.
    The alabaster tomb is quite unusual, I think, in that the lady's eyes are wide open. Aren't sculptures of the deceased on their tombs mostly showing them as if they were asleep? It is very beautifully done, I wonder who she was, and how young she died.

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    1. Alabaster tomb in St Mary's - Melton Mowbray
      This exquisite alabaster figure of a woman from the wealthy De Burgeis family is in fourteenth century dress. Her death pillow is supported by two little angels. Though some uncertainty still surrounds this tomb, it is presumed that it was indeed carved during the fourteenth century. It appears that the De Burgeis family held lands at Melton Mowbray as early as the reign of Richard II when one Thomas de Burgeis was living there.

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  5. Like ships that passed in the night, we were! I spent last weekend at Loughborough, Staunton Harold, Coleville, Melton Mowbray and Sproxton. It's a really pretty area.

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    1. You are right Ma'am. A lovely area. I must go back to walk those ancient lanes and those rolling hills. If I see you in "The Golden Fleece" in Upper Broughton I shall buy you a drink.

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  6. I had to Google to confirm what I thought ~ your rape field is what we call canola here.

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    1. I have always thought the word "rape" is rather odd when applied to arable farming. "Canola" sounds much nicer.

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    2. It is Raps in German, and that word has nothing on common with Vergewaltigung.

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  7. Stilton cheese with apricots! Heaven.

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    1. Add a wedge of handmade Melton Mowbray pork pie and it's Double Heaven!

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  8. A safe and Happy Easter to you, Yorkie...best wishes. :)

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  9. That's close to where I now live. Of course, we went to Yorkshire for our holidays!

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    1. I waved to you as you were speeding past but you never saw me AJ.

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