You can’t take it away from the Cotswolds – the villages are beautiful and the village names are just what you’d expect from Olde England – Chipping Norton, Upper Slaughter and Stow-on-the-Wold.
Unfortunately, because they are so popular, you are rarely more than twenty minutes away from a twee delicatessen or Jeremy Clarkson.
However, how about an alternative – the villages of Northamptonshire. I took an hour on my way back from visiting my Dad yesterday and popped by Fotheringhay and Apethorpe because I wanted some pictures. I don’t want to decry the Cotswolds, or to encourage a deluge of delicatessens and celebrities, but if you’re passing they are worth a look.
There is a vast choice of stone in the county and colours change as you travel through the county – from grey to gold to brown. I just looked up a reference to the stone types of the county, hoping to sound intelligent. Currently I feel like I’ve been beaten round the head with information so ” grey to gold to brown” is as good as it gets. Try here if you are prepared to risk a similar fate.
Much of the roofing is Collyweston tiling, which has been used since Roman times.
The third selection of photos is also from Apethorpe – the church, the date stone from the church tower, the old village water tower and the stocks and whipping post.
There’s a Palace in Apethorpe. I know this because they recently put a brown sign up, so I thought I’d have a look.
There’s nothing to see, as the grounds were locked and have high walls. It seems it was a favourite hunting lodge of the Tudors and Stuarts (well, Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I all visited – 13 times in the 70 years between 1566 and 1636). Once every five years doesn’t seem a lot, but this was, they say, more than any other house they owned.
A few years ago it was at risk of serious damage from the elements so English Heritage persuaded the government to buy it by compulsory purchase for £3.5 million. They then spent £8 million on urgent repairs. I’m pretty sure they could have built a new one for that.
Then they sold it for £2.5 million to a French aristocrat who is going to finish the repairs and live there. Meanwhile it will be open to the public for the next 80 years. Well, fifty days a year. Between 9.30 and 1.00 in most of July and August.
That’s a loss of £9 million.
Members of our forces have been killed and injured due to a lack of flak jackets and armoured vehicles. We have a social care crisis. Even the Labour Party wants more police. Much as I love history and I detest politics, we need to look at our priorities.
I could have taken some better photos of the cottages, but parking is tight and it was the end of the day so time was limited and my feet were sore. In other words I was too lazy to walk for the shots. Believe me, these villages are lovely.
Here’s a notice from the window of one of the cottages in Fotheringhay. I didn’t actually see it until I’d parked and got out of the car, and as I only wanted to park for two or three minutes I ignored it. By the time I walked ten yards along the road and taken three shots somebody was already bobbing about at one of the windows.
Now, I don’t want to upset anyone, and usually don’t park where I see signs like that. However, I do think that if you want guaranteed parking outside your house you really should buy one with a drive.