It is Easter Saturday as I start on this blog. We are nearly three weeks into Lockdown, a term which, according to recent news stories, some people, including one or two of our leaders, have chosen to ignore, or at least bend the meaning of, to achieve their own ends.
Spring is definitely “sprung”, the sun is out and it is lovely and warm. One advantage of lockdown is that it is giving me the chance to do all those jobs that I keep putting off, like car washing, fence painting and weeding. It is keeping me busy though which is a good thing. I have also managed to complete the biggest garden project I have ever attempted. I have created a wildlife pond in our front garden. It started last autumn and has sort of evolved over the winter and I managed to get the rocks in place and the edging completed before lockdown. Unfortunately since then I have not been able to obtain any pond plants so it is looking a bit naked at the moment.
Left: Our new wildlife pond and landscaped front garden; Right: The starlings love taking an early morning cold bath!
Some of the Spring flowers in the garden: L-R Tulip, Narcissus (Daffodils to you and I) and Magnolia.
We are also exercising daily, and this has given us a chance to explore our local area more closely and enjoy sights and sounds we would normally take for granted. It has forced us to slow down, to look, watch, and listen. We have seen deer lurking shyly in the shadow, watched hares sprint across fields, listen to skylarks hovering in the blue sky singing their songs, and admired the wild flowers and spring blossom on the trees.
Some of the wild flowers and blossom seen out on our walks.
The local landscape. I have played around with the top image in post processing, hence its slightly strange look.
A hare in full flight
I have come up with a small photographic project to follow whilst out on our walks. Within thirty minutes walking time of where we live there are 6 churches and one Abbey. My plan over the next month so is to photograph these churches and try and find out a little bit about each one. We are not allowed inside them, but some of the churchyards are full of spring flowers and blossom trees and look very pretty.
Our local church in Wicklewood, St Andrews and All Saints
The church sits at the western edge of the village looking across a valley to fields and woods, a very pleasant view. Local records suggest that there has been a church on this site since the 14th Century although parts of the current structure date back to the 15th century with the tracery on the east window (right hand image) dating from the Victorian period. If the top image gives the appearance of the east side of the church sloping away, that is because it is! The tracery work on the east window (right) was thought to be too heavy for the chancel, with the result that it appears to be sinking into the ground.
About a mile away from Wicklewood, nestling in the valley is the small settlement of Hackford, with St Mary’s church hidden down a lane in the trees. The origins of this church date to Norman times but again the main body of the church originates in the 1400’s. Sadly it is closed at the moment as the building has a number of cracks and is regarded as unsafe.
St Mary’s Church Hackford
Close to Wicklewood to the north east is the small settlement of Crownthorpe. Consisting of no more than half a dozen dwellings, there is also St James Church. The Norfolk churches website reports that this “is a considerable medieval building, mostly from the years before the Black Death.” The village of Crownthorpe was once part of the Felbrigg Estate, located to the north of Norwich. Crownthorpe village and buildings was sold off in the 1860’s to settle bankruptcy debts, and St James was included in this sale. As with many others, this church eventually fell into disuse and disrepair and was sold off in the 1970’s. It is now a private residence.
St James Church, Crownthorpe – now a private residence. The giveaway is the flag on the tower and the Velux windows in the roof. I wonder if anyone sleeps in the tower!
By the time the next blog is published we will hopefully have a better idea about how we get out of the lockdown. My own thoughts are that we will face some sort of restrictions on movement and socialisation for most of the summer. There will also be more on our local churches. In the mean time, stay safe.