Hands & Heart Coffin Slab, St Mary’s Luddenham, Kent

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On Easter Sunday on a visit to Kent, we managed to look at couple of churches and one I remember from sixteen years ago when we lived in Kent.  St Mary’s Church in Luddenham, near Faversham, was an over run desolate building when we first visited, standing in a working farmyard, it stood empty and forlorn.  But not long after our first visit the Churches Conservation Trust took over the building, and now you can walk through a wild but managed graveyard, and explore the church which is now opened daily.  This post is not about the church, hopefully that will come later, but about something special inside the church.

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When you enter the church you cannot miss this wonderful coffin slab.  The stone is not original to the church, but came from Stone Chapel nearby.  The chapel is the ruined church of Our Lady of Elwarton of Roman and Saxon origins. The 13th century Purbeck stone coffin slab depicts a cross, and a pair of hands holding a heart.  I doubt if there is any records of the coffins at Stone Chapel as there are only ruins left, we didn’t have time to visit, but its on the list for the next time.

I just wondered if this is possibly a crusaders coffin slab.  When knights went on crusades, and knowing that their chances of survival were slim, they wanted their hearts to be sent home to be buried in their local churches.  There are some wonderful stone tombs for many knights, but in some, you would only find a casket with the remains of a heart.  As this one shows a heart, maybe its one knight who did not return home.

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April 2015

Neptune Towers, Kingsgate’s Bay, Kent.

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Quite a few years ago we lived in Kent, and I know that I have seen this view many times, but this was the first time I noticed the ruins on the cliff, when visiting family on Easter Sunday.  I can only guess that the white cliffs take your full attention, or it could be just me, not seeing what is under my nose.  The bay is called Kingsgate and is just outside of the seaside resort of Margate in Kent.

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At first I thought it was the remains of a fort or castle, but it’s a folly…….. Neptune Towers stands on the cliffs at Kingsgate, next to a golf course, the folly was built at around the same time as Kingsgate Castle, by Lord Holland in 1760, which is just a little further along the cliffs.  It was constructed in the shape of a typical Henrican castle but on a much smaller scale, with four bastions and a tower in the central courtyard (demolished in the 1970’s), the footings of which can still be seen. The tower was used by the Royal Observer Corps as a look out post during World War II.

Apparently Lord Holland built several follies around his castle, but Neptune Towers, which was called Arx Ruochim and it is said to have replaced a tower erected here by King Vortigern in 458 AD, maybe that is why Lord Holland built the folly, also it did have a large tower in the centre, now long gone.  There are not many details to be found on the building, but as it is a folly there would be very little.

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April 2015

On The Beach

The weather on Easter Sunday was amazing.  We travelled to Kent to see visit our daughter and grandchildren, then decided to have a picnic on the beach, first one of the year.  Having intended to go to Broadstairs, we were out of luck, as trying to find a parking space was totally out of the question, it seemed everyone who lived in Kent had the same idea.   Travelling further on we  came to Joss Bay, the perfect place, plus parking.  You park on the cliff top, and then make your way down steps to a lovely sandy beach and wonderful views of the sea.  Of course, once everyone had eaten, and sat back to enjoy the sun, out came my camera.  Mostly it was to capture my youngest grandson, but there were other little scenes that I could not resist.

Fenland Cottage

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We pass this ancient cottage every time we travel to Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, situated near Thorny Toll, although you have to be quick as it is now slightly hidden by some large buildings.  But at one time it sat all alone in the Fens, no road to drive up to the front door, most likely a farm cottage.  It’s now abandoned, but seems to be well looked after, not sure if it belongs to nearby Knarr Farm, or is part of Dalmark, who’s buildings are in front of it now.

So far I have found two names for the cottage ‘Canary Cottage’ due to the painted yellow door, which could be a recent name and the ‘Eel Catcher’s Cottage’, I like the latter name.  It has taken me quite a while to get these photos, I have to take them from a moving car, as it is too dangerous to stop, and they normally end up blurry, but on this day I was in luck, the shine was shining on the cottage and I got my shot :)

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March 2015

Village Sign & Church – Pentney, Norfolk

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This is really a story about…… you should never put off what you want to do until another time, or something like that, because it will be too late.  Which is what happened to me about the building on the village sign in Pentney, no it didn’t fall down, it was restored.  But I so wanted to see Pentney Abbey Gatehouse in Norfolk, in its unrestored state, and I very nearly did.  It is privately owned, and very difficult to find, also they didn’t want people turning up just to take photos.  As there was, and still is, a caravan park on the site, the plan was to book the caravan we had then, for a night so I could explore the ruins.  Of course it was always something we would do later….. but now it is no longer a ruin, but a beautifully restored building, but I so wished we had booked.

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This building, was the Gatehouse of what is locally known as Pentney Abbey, an Augustinian Priory for nearly 500 years, from 1075, in the time of William of Normandy, to its Suppression by King Henry VIII in 1534. The Priory went in to decline in the 15th century, and a lot of the stone was used for Abbey Farm and many buildings in the village.  It is also said that the soldiers of Oliver Cromwell, during the Civil War, brought the Priory really to a ruin. They came up the river Nar in flat bottomed boats and used the buildings for target practice!   There is also a story that the gatehouse was too far away for them to destroy, and that is why it was left standing.  You can only imagine what splendour the rest of the buildings were, when you consider this was only the gatehouse.

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I found a photo by Simon Knox, who luckily explored the building before restoration.  The owners with the help of English Heritage have carried out a wonderful job, as shown by a photo I found in a newspaper, and now the gatehouse will stand for many centuries to come, you can even get married there.

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The village does have a lovely part Norman Church, St Mary Magdalene, so quite a lot of history in this now very quiet charming village, which once had a mighty Priory as a near neighbour.

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Knight Training at Whittington Castle, Shropshire,

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On a visit to Whittington Castle, Northern Shropshire in 2013, I noticed some knight training going on and was quick to take a shot.  Now I have come across the photo again, I thought it would be a good one for my Occupation Category…….. Knight Trainers 2013