Previous month:
February 2021
Next month:
April 2021

March 2021

Church Aligned

Holy Trinity  Drayton Parslow
The Monday Photo

As soon as I turned off the B4032, I saw Drayton Parslow church, up on the hill in front of me. Have ever noticed how often it is this happens, that as you approach a village the first thing you see is the church?

Two more examples that occur to me, because of the roads I use, are Great Horwood church, from the Winslow road, and Hardwick church, when coming from Aylesbury on the A413. I don’t think this is by accident, but why does it happen? The only reason I can think of is for navigation, probably from well before the Norman conquest.

Many churches are not the first one to be built on a particular site. At Great Horwood an earlier church was already in place there in (we think) 1066. It’s believed that an earlier church was at Hardwick, too. And many churches were, or still are, on pre-Christian sites.

The 14th Century Holy Trinity church at Drayton Parslow was not the first to be built there, and there’s an ancient preaching cross in the churchyard that I think must be older than the church.

Either of these would have made a fine landmark. They are up on the hill top so would be visible from the B4032, once a Roman road and a route that’s been in use for two thousand years or more.

In Line

But there’s another reason I think they were used for navigation; Leys.

Alfred Watkins believed that a network of straight tracks (the leys) covered the British Isles, aligned for navigation with beacon hills, mounds, moats, and old pagan sites that now have churches on them. Some of these routes were 4,000 years old, he believed. He called these routes leys because ‘ley’ as part of a place name seemed to occur remarkably often on them.

Some call these ley lines, and believe they are lines of force in the ground. I don’t believe this and neither did Alfred Watkins; it’s a belief that only came about in the 1960s.

Watkins published his book The Old Straight Track in 1925. By then he had been developing his theory about the leys for four years.

I have a much later reprint. The most interesting part for me as the North Bucks Wanderer is Appendix B, titled ‘Buckinghamshire Leys’. There he lists 15 leys, and many of the alignment points are churches. Quite a few of those leys have major Roman roads running along them. What do you think the truth is about leys?

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


A Year of Lockdown

Social Distancing Project 211

A notice on this shrine says:
“Dedicated to the victims of coronavirus and the healthcare professionals who are risking their lives while supporting other people”.

The Distance Project 27

A year since the lockdown started, the Milton Keynes Peace Pagoda held two very minimal ceremonies on Tuesday to mark the date.

The ceremonies were part of a National Day of Reflection that took place all over the UK.

Continue reading "A Year of Lockdown" »

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


Tree Identity

Blackthorn blossom

The Monday Photo

This is blackthorn blossom, but how do I know that; when these look just like Hawthorn blossom? One big clue is that the flowers are out before the leaves. Another is that it’s still a bit early for Hawthorn, though the flowers are quite similar.

Their thorns mean both these trees make good, stock proof hedges, and it’s not unusual for both to be planted in the same hedge, giving a longer flowering season.

Where is this tree? While out researching and taking pictures for last week’s post Where Did the River Go?, I found a nice group of blackthorn trees in blossom on the Ouzel riverbank, close to the spillway at North Willen lake. I got in close to the nearest one, to show you these flowers.

Blackthorn supports all sorts of wildlife. It provides early nectar and pollen for bees. Many moth caterpillars feed on it and the rare black hairstreak butterfly lays its eggs in the blackthorn. Birds find a safe nesting place amongst the branches of this dense, thorny tree and small mammals also use it for shelter.

In the autumn, birds and small mammals can feast on the deep purple berries, the sloes. You might know them from sloe gin, but there are recipes for sloe jam and sloe preserves, too.

The Ouzel once ran on the other side of these trees, and the parish boundary followed the middle of the river. That means the blackthorns here were just inside the old Willen village parish.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


Where Did the River Go?

Ducks feeding at Willen lake Feeding the water birds at South Willen lake is very popular, and the birds know this. They are always on the lookout for likely bird feeders and will come quite close. If you want come to the lake to feed them, access is off the V10 Brickhill Street.

 

Willen lake in Milton Keynes is a popular spot to visit, but  before they built it, Milton Keynes Development Corporation had to move a river.

Continue reading "Where Did the River Go?" »

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


House of Grace

Elizabethan house  Winslow

The Monday Photo

This Elizabethan house is in Horn Street, right in the middle of Winslow. It’s just a few yards from the Market Square.

It’s one of the oldest buildings in the town, and has the typical Tudor jettied first floor, so that if you walk along the pavement the upstairs is above your head.

The house isn’t as small as it first seems; it was enlarged in the 18th Century, and you can see part of the extension on the right of the photo. The 16th Century part of the house was originally thatched; you can tell by the steepness of the roof.

This timbered framed building belonged to the local Grace family for about a century, and the last one of the family here was Arthur Grace.

He used to paint the outside of this house and the other buildings he owned in this block, with ornate designs and bright colours. I remember seeing him doing a repaint in the 1970s.

This block of houses stands on what used to be part of the Market Square, and in the 18th Century was known as The Buttermarket.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


At The Lake and At The Shop

Social Distancing Project 207Feeding the birds at South Willen lake, under lockdown.

The Distance Project 27

As the lockdown stretches through the cold grey winter months, I sometimes visit South Willen Lake. It’s a popular spot for exercise. Some people prefer to wear masks, even though it’s not a requirement outdoors. Others, like me, prefer not to.

Continue reading "At The Lake and At The Shop" »

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe