Up To St Mary & St Nicholas


We arrived at Leatherhead’s Travelodge in time to watch the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Wales. I must say this hotel is the best appointed and friendliest in the budget chain that I have experienced. I was happy to tell the manager this the next morning.

Early in the evening we dined at Piazza Firenze Italian restaurant in High St with Helen and Bill, Pat, Christine, and Olivia. Shelly and Ron joined us a bit later. The service was friendly and efficient and the food and wine excellent. I enjoyed a starter of meat balls, a calzone, and a crepe Vesuvio. Pat, Bill and I shared a bottle of Montepulciano. I rather lost track of what anyone else ate or drank.

We then watched the Godalming Operatic Society’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer, directed by Jackie’s cousin, Pat O’Connell. Pat has now directed the whole of the G & S canon for this company, and has decided that this will be his last. I have no doubt, however, that the players will wish to keep very much in touch with him.

Supplemented for this production by the professional tenor David Menezes as Alexis, this is a very fine amateur group that has been performing regularly since 1925.

I am no connoisseur, but it seemed to me that it took a while to warm up, yet when it did it burst into delightful fun, for players and audience alike. There were many good voices, splendidly performed choreography, lively group scenes, and a number of amusing comic turns.

Afterwards we enjoyed drinks and conversation in the bar.

As usual, in the morning, being first up, I ventured into the quiet, sunlit Leatherhead streets. A gentleman I met walking his dog described the morning as “fresh”. I had to agree. The manager was manning the hotel reception desk. During our conversation he directed me to the church of St Mary and St Nicholas where he said there was an historic tree. I didn’t find the tree

but I did walk up Church Street

As one leaves the modern section pictured above, buildings of older eras still stand.

The Mansion garden wall bears a plaque detailing its history.

A variety of windows catch the eye. The first of the trio above, protected by an iron grill, reflects the rooftops opposite. The second bears the name of Vapepit, the twenty first century occupant of the premises of a nineteenth century coal merchant. Vape is what you do with an e-cigarette in an attempt to give up nicotine. There is quite an intense controversy about whether this is beneficial or more harmful to health. More information is contained in this article from The Guardian newspaper: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/13/e-cigarettes-vaping-safe-old-fashioned-smoke.

The last of the three windows is on the wall of the church

alongside which is a public park.

After wandering among the gravestones for a while I gave up looking for the tree. Between two stones in the last of this group of pictures lies a brick formation in the shape of a human body.

Our group gathered in the foyer and repaired to Weatherspoons for an excellent, remarkably inexpensive, breakfast. When the party dispersed Jackie drove us home where I watched a recording of yesterday’s rugby match between England and Scotland.

I enjoyed a salt beef, mustard, and mayo sandwich this evening. Jackie’s choice was tuna mayo.


  1. It sounds like a lovely outing, Derrick, with friends, entertainment, and pleasant accommodations. The churchyard is very pretty, and the town itself is, too.

  2. Your post reminded me of my ancient history; I was Yum Yum in the Mikado in high school. 🙂

    I have been watching Angelby; the episode in which they dug up the graves at a cemetery and found them all empty, so I found some of your photos a bit hair raising 🙂

  3. I don’t know where to start to comment on this post Derrick, the experience of the Opera, the plaque on the Mansion or the historical gravestone, each and every one is a story within a story.

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I enjoyed seeing Leatherhead with you. Lovely place, although I read your qualifier in one of the comments. All too often, towns and cities suffer from little or no planning. Or inept planning. I don’t know what to call it. Augusta, Maine’s capital, was once a lovely little city. No more. Sigh.

      1. Yes, that’s probably a good part of it. Also, in the U.S., the automobile rules supreme. Only in major cities is there any kind of reliable public transportation. Much of the ugliness in Augusta stems from the strip development with its large parking lots. So ugly!

        1. Fascinating that you should say this, Laurie. I have long believed that the answer to such problems in our small island is to offer widespread free, efficient and reliable public transport. This would be the carrot approach rather than all the sticks we employ. There is no way it would happen, though.

          1. Yes! Where my daughter lives in North Carolina—Chapel Hill—the buses are free. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places like that in this country. At one time in Maine, you could reportedly travel from one end of the state to the other using the trolley system. Would have been slow and cold in the winter. But you could do it. Of course, there were also trains for people to take. And buses.

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