Category Archives: village history

Cotswolds or Notswolds?

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 Featured Image and second trio of photographs are Apethorpe, and the top trio are Fotheringhay, both in Northamptonshire.

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.


Welcome to Fotheringhay!

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.


Christmas gathers momentum

When the Christmas jumpers start you know that the big day can’t be far off.

Today we’ve done more decorations and we’ve been working for Shipshape Arts, a company describing themselves as an “artistic creation company”. They are based in a barn on the farm and do quite a bit for us – including helping us with the Education tent at Flintham Show and making the quoits we will using for the Christmas hoopla. In return we try to help them a bit, though “help” may be be putting it a bit strongly.

Today they gave people hats. You can see them being worn in the main picture. Of course, not everyone got a hat. For some reason I didn’t, despite the fact that my poor bald head needs some warmth. Just saying…

This is one of the statues that they put up for us recently – looked at from this angle it’s a bit more noticeable than it is when you stand on the back of the Ecocentre looking across the field. The stone that looks like it’s on the right comemorates the air crash in 1944 – it’s actually on the left but there’s a curve in the road.


This is one of “The Sweepers” that were originally shown at the Southbank Centre Festival of Neighbourhood. We also have “The Neighbours”, who were also at the Olympic Park before coming up here. Did you know there was a market in second-hand statues? I didn’t. It was quite a performance putting them up, with low-loaders, forklifts, power tools and lots of helpers.

This is “The Neighbours” taken from a deceptive angle, inreality they are several hundred yards from the kitchen.


We’re decorating the Christmas tree now. It’s a bit early for me (though I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas, to be fair) but it’s turkey tasting time this weekend and we are aiming for a Christmas Dinner feel to the centre.

Finally – I nearly got a picture of a bird feeding at the table. We’ve had great tits, blue tits, pigeons, chaffinches, robins, house sparrows, greenfinches, starlings and wood pigeons so far. It could be better but we’re hoping it will build up as time goes on. Meanwhile they are all quick to take flight and added to a cheap camera and poor light levels I haven’t much to show for my photographic efforts. Looks like I’m going to have to borrow my wife’s camera or wait until the butterflies come back in summer.


At least you can tell it’s a robin, most of the others have been unidentifiable blurs.

Time to remember



That’s some of our group at the war memorial. The village war memorial is just a gravestone engraved with the names of the two men from the village who died. I believe there is also a plaque to a WW2 casualty in the church.

This one is the memorial to the air crash in April 1944.

A Lancaster from nearby RAF Syerston collided with an Airspeed Oxford from RAF Wymeswold, with eleven airmen dying.

We have a link to the crash on the farm, apart from one of the aircraft coming down on our land. (I’m not sure where the other fell – must check). Margaret Rose, the mother of farmer David Rose, was out playing when she heard the crash and saw the aircraft falling.

Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid won the Victoria Cross whilst flying from RAF Syerston – read this if you want to see what it takes to be a hero. After the war he worked in agriculture, including British Oil and Cake Mills (BOCM), where my father also worked. Just goes to show that all the best people work in farming.