Tag Archives: chapel

Memorial Garden – Old Hunstanton

While we were cruising round Hunstanton on our recent holiday we ended up in Old Hunstanton. It’s called that because it’s the original part of the town that used to exist before they built the new resort.

I knew there was a lighthouse there but I have no recollection of the ruined chapel. It must have been there, because it was built in 1272. It’s dedicated to Saint Edmund, King of East Anglia. He reputedly founded the village of Hunstanton before meeting his end at the hands of the Great Heathen Army of the Danes.

It was not a pleasant end, featuring torture, shooting with arrows and beheading, as he refused to renounce Christianity. Even if he had renounced Christianity it’s difficult to believe that his death would have been any different.

The legend is that the East Anglians recovered the King’s head with the help of a wolf. Accounts vary, but there’s usually a touch of the supernatural about the wolf in the legend. From there a cult of sainthood grew up round the dead king. The abbey at Bury St Edmunds housed his shrine until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. One notable pilgrim was King Canute, who converted to Christianity, rebuilt the abbey and, on a visit in 1020, offered his crown as a penance for the acts of his ancestors.

That is why there is a carved oak wolf by the archway.

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St Edmund’s Wolf, Hunstanton

The area around the chapel was made into a memorial garden in 1915 by a local vicar, the Reverend Alfred Toms. It was supposedly because his two sons were killed, but as they didn’t die until 1916 and 1917, this can only be part of the story.

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War Memorial Garden, Hunstanton

The story probably starts with one of the benches in the garden.

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Memorial bench – Nurse Edith Cavell

Nurse Edith Cavell was executed by the Germans on 12th October 1915. She was seen as a martyr at the time, having helped around 175 people to escape from the German occupiers of Belgium, her adopted home. This was a gift to allied propagandists at the time, though a British investigation after the war considered it perfectly legal. We had, after all, executed twelve German spies during the war – eleven shot at the Tower of London and one hanged in Wandsworth Gaol.

Nobody really comes out of a war with clean hands. Ask Mata Hari.

 

The other bench commemorates Captain Charles Fryatt , who was executed in 1916. He was a Captain on several ferries travelling between the UK and the Netherlands, who were neutral in the Great War. Once he outran a German ship and on another occasion he tried to ram a U-Boat that was attempting to sink him. Finally his luck ran out when he was trapped by five German destroyers. He was tried for the “crime” of sinking a German submarine, even though he only forced it to dive. The verdict, predictably, was death by firing squad.

He was famous at the time, but is now largely forgotten compared to Edith Cavell. I’m not sure if they are still about, but at one time he did sometimes crop up on badges and brooches at antique fairs.

Finally, what’s the link between Edith Cavell, Charles Fryatt and the Unknown Warrior?

Answer – their bodies all travelled back to the UK in the same railway carriage.

 

 

 

The Narrow Cells

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
         Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
         The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
Elegy in a Country Churchyard – Thomas Gray

I was at Crowland Abbey earlier last week (as you may have noticed) and took a few shots of gravestones with interesting names. We didn’t have a lot of time so I didn’t do a lot of searching, just took a few pictures of stones with names I thought I could look up in the census results.

The first one was a stone that was laid flat at the end of the south aisle (the one with no roof) to form a pavement. It seems a poor way to treat a memorial but I suppose if you believe that only the skull and thighbones are needed for resurrection the grave marker is irrelevant.

It looks like it’s the stone of Sarah, wife of William Hewson. William is listed in the 1861 Census for Crowland, a widowed 71 year old farmer and cattle dealer. If only the moss had grown more. Unfortunately I can’t narrow it down more than that, or find any mention of Sarah.

A few yards further on, just outside the walls, is a stone to  William Blood and his wife Mary Ann. William was a farmer, who ended up with 143 acres. and eventually left property valued at “under £100” in 1877. Mary went to live with her daughter and Robert, the eldest son, became a general dealer, married two women called Mary (one after the other) and died in 1914.

Conspiracy theorists might deplore the state collecting all this information, but it does make family history easier (unless people marry identically named wives).

A few yards away is a stone to Drusilla, wife of Augustus Blood, who died in 1876. She had a difficult, and short, life. In the 1841 census she is months old and the daughter of an Ironmonger but in 1851 she is living with her grandmother and mother (both widows). By 1861 she is living with an an aunt and uncle and listed as a dressmaker. Finally, in the 1871 census she has a daughter and is married to Augustus Blood, an unemployed butcher.

By 1881 Augustu was working as a butcher in Oundle, Northamptonshire. He had 4 daughters between the ages of 5 and 10 (no wonder poor Drusilla died young). His brother Henry was working with him (though he also has a housekeeper). In 1891 he is living in Whittlesey, Cambs, with a new wife Ann, and three young children between 4 and 8, all born in Oundle. Ann died in 1901 and left effects worth £42 8s 9d to Eleanor Frost, spinster.

By 1911 (the last census to be released) Augustus was living near  Salford, Lancashire and working as a Chapel Keeper. At the age of 68 he was living with his 44 year old wife (having remarried in 1904), two stepchildren and his brother Henry, who was a self-employed confectionary hawker. He died in 1915 and left £32  4s 9d.

 

It’s amazing what stories you can find in a churchyard.

Clumber Park

We decided to use our new National Trust membership yesterday with a late visit to Clumber Park.

There is no house now. After a number of problems, including fires, declining fortune and death duties the house was demolished in 1938. A house that once had 105 rooms (and a dining room that seated 150) was brought to nothing, though statues and fountains were removed for reuse. The contents were sold – the Library sale raised £70,000 and the rest of the contents for £60,000 – a total of £130,000 (around £6,000,000 at 2017 values). There are rumours that the house as rebuilt in Arizona, but nobody can say where.

It wasn’t just a house that disappeared,  a whole way of life disappeared along with the houses. It wasn’t just this house that went either.  Since 1900 0ver a thousand country houses have been lost. Causes include social change (lack of servants), declining income, taxation (with death duties up to 80%) and damage from the military during the war.

Despite this, there is still plenty to see, including the Chapel (which looks more like a Church to me) and a four acre walled kitchen garden which contains a 450 foot greenhouse and 135 varieties of rhubarb.

There is also a Lake, which is what we went to see. It’s 87 acres, so it’s a lot bigger than the duck pond at Arnot Hill.

To be honest, despite the Greek temple and bridge, the lake isn’t that interesting. The bird life was also rather dull – no Mandarin, no cross-breeds and no Pochards. The trees on the lake’s edge did, however, provide food and shelter for a flock of Bramblings, which was worth the trip as I haven’t seen any for years. They have a profile very much like a Chaffinch, and come to visit from Scandinavia each winter.

They kept flying round, making it difficult to count them, but there were about 40 of them. Despite that it was still tricky getting a good photo.

There was also a small flock of Greenfinches masquerading as something interesting.

We’ll have a longer visit next time.

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It’s amazing what you find in the shrubbery