Thursday 29 December 2016

Chenies Church – Through a glass, darkly

Resting gracefully in the Bedford Chapel 

A gentle knight at ease

The tone of Simon Jenkins' description of St Michael’s church* in Chenies village is peevish. As the particular riches in St Michael’s are incarcerated behind a screen of wrought iron and glass. His grumble and mine. This chapel of monuments, the Bedford Chapel

is denied us. The chapel (runs the length of the church on the north side). a monument (1556) to the Dukes of Bedford (Russell Family) and a collection of funerary loveliness that extends 500 years. 

At noon, on the day of my visit, although the church in near darkness, you could just make out the shapes and colours of these resting places and their attendant banners.

Squinting through the glass and iron screen I could just make out these exciting forms of tombs and monuments and made two drawings. 

Perhaps one day as Jenkins suggests ‘proper access should be permitted or the wall redesigned to give a better view from the nave.'

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face-to-face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

*England's Thousand Best Churches by Simon Jenkins 1999

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Felix Fieldfare

Felix the fieldfare in hedges and fields,
For worms and berries and whatever yields.

Always in winter,
Usually with mates,

He’ll scurry around,
to put bread on the plate.

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Jordans - Westminster Abbey near Beaconsfield

Peaceful interior Jordans Meeting House

Society of Friends Meeting House in Jordans

Now for something completely different and it is located on the doorstep.

Jordans is the Quaker Westminster Abbey*.’ James II’s Declaration of Indulgence 1687 meant Charles Fox and chums could get to work, laying the foundations of the Meeting House we see today.

The warm red brick exterior is unchanged.

Inside a calmness that is impermeable to anything but a silent peace. This is a place of worship that is stripped of all distraction and temptation to eulogise or bumble. Plain walls of white with wood panelling and simple furniture that has witnessed much listening and prayer.

*Quoted from Simon Jenkins' England's Thousand Best Churches 1999

Friday 23 December 2016

Invinghoe – Drenched but undaunted

Wonderful carvings at St Mary's

A rain washed exterior! However quite pleasing!
St Mary Invinghoe
Having ‘done’ all those lovely Hertfordshire churches called out by Simon Jenkins in his magnum opus 1000 Best Churches
Rosie the Puppy and I retreated into Buckinghamshire.
Invinghoe is almost in Bedfordshire but not quite.

St Mary’s Church is part of this lovely village nudging its way towards the centre and the green. 
Inside, many marvels a beautiful 12C arcade with gorgeous carvings in the stone, the leaf work appears to be blown around the piers. Add in some wondrous woodwork, roof bosses and pew poppyheads*, one of which features a mermaid.

And Perpendicular niceness outside as we stood to make this drawing the heavens opened and drenched it! We scurried back to the motor and filled in the detail of this proud exterior on the way home!

*From 1400 to 1547 congregational seating was gradually introduced perhaps as a result of the new habit of preaching by the clergy. Much craftsmanship was bestowed on this seating, particularly bench ends. The crowning feature of the pew was the ‘poppy’ or ‘poupée’ head carved to each end either in the form of a trefoil with close-knit foliage or with animals and figures of allegorical significance.

Information © Finch and Co Old Brompton Road London SW7 3DQ

Wednesday 21 December 2016


Inspired by a table mat in our friend's Sarah kitchen, this image. The mat was part of a set bought years ago apparently and does much duty on the kitchen table. I made a sketch on the spot and translated it into watercolour soon after. 

Monday 19 December 2016

Jeremy Jay

Jeremy Jay is rather shy,
And flits from tree to tree.
Stops on our birdbath for a sip,
Then it home for tea.

He buried acorns a month ago,
For a tasty Christmas treat,
Now, where did he put them?

For now he wants to eat!

Thursday 15 December 2016

Time out in Tilbury

Tilbury Breakfast

Stations in the Sun

Another coastal jaunt with Trevor, this time on the north sided of the Thames Estuary, to Tilbury.

Across the the minarets of Gravesend

Travelling through Tilbury
We left home far too early and an empty M25 saw us in the Duck Café and Restaurant (241 Dock Road) for an excellent breakfast. This was a perfect place from which to explore this unique area and pick the brains of Wikipedia.

Tilbury was established in the late 1800s near a 16C fort, built by Henry VIII and ancient cross-river ferry. The ferry still runs to Gravesend. As we gazed across the Thames, the sun came up on its minarets.

Tilbury has a major deep-water port, and it contributes to ‘Tilbury Docks’ rhyming slang for socks (As in “a nice pair of Tilbury's”).

The narrowness of the Thames here made it a suitable place to construct forts for the defence of London against foreign invaders. Further along the waterfront two power stations were enjoying the sun, Tilbury A Power mothballed 1981, and Tilbury B was still going up until 2013

Doubling back upstream a couple of miles we reached Grays Beach Riverside Park. This was an extraordinary public space, with a huge sandpit, play galleon, skate ramp, an aerial zip-line, ‘multi-use ball court’ plus ‘a large open grass field, ideal for picnics’. Not quite so tempting in November. The website also advised that the café is closed until further notice, and regretted that no public toilets or baby change facilities are available within the park but apologised for any inconvenience caused.

From Grays Beach

Coal House Fort
Lord Palmerston, twice Prime Minister twice during the 19th century was keen to promote the idea of a defensive wall around the British Isles to protect us from the perceived European threat. Coal House Fort, a few miles to the East, was part of the plan. And it served in both World Wars. In WW2 the Royal Artillery, Royal Marines, Essex Home Guard, Royal Navy, the R.N.V.R and W.R.N.S were all stationed at Coal House. It is easy to imagine the stream of traffic to and from Whitehall along the A13 into Essex

Coal House 
Our final port of call (no pun intended) was the former The Bata shoe factory in East Tilbury. This building is all that remains of an industrial estate in Essex, which produced shoes for over 70 years. Founded in 1932 by Tomáš Baťa, from Czechoslovakia.

In 1933 he added Bata houses for workers were built, set among gardens, shops and public buildings in the modernist style. "Bata-ville" had all the services of town, including a theatre, sports facilities, hotel, restaurant, grocery and butcher shops, post office, and a newspaper.