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.

Going For A Drink


Late in the morning, Shelly and Ron paid us a visit. After our usual enjoyable conversation we all drove to Otter Garden Centre where we brunched. As we each went our separate ways, Jackie drove me in what developed into a circular route around East Boldre. Although we experienced no more rain until it set in again after dusk, enough has fallen in recent days for the ponies not to have to go in search of water.

The seasonal pool at the junction between St Leonard’s Road and the East Boldre road is even fuller than it was a couple of days ago. As so often, shooting into the sun produced a monochrome photograph.

While its companions grazed on the bank, a chestnut drank before joining them.

A damp dappled grey caught my eye. Although on the higher level, it was tantalisingly close enough to the rippling water for me to go into contortions in an attempt to catch its reflection. I was about to abandon the project when the obliging creature

set off along the turf,

Pony drinking

and, at a lower level, dipped its neck to slake its thirst.


A cyclist, rounding the bend, bore the unfortunate stains on his back which indicated nothing more unsavoury than that he had pedalled along soggy mud-laden roads.

On the outskirts of Beaulieu we passed Beaulieu Cemetery, beside the entrance of which stands a bronzed crucifix.

Alongside this burial ground, the waterlogged verges encourage the generation of weed and reflect the trees some of which now seem to be rising from their depths.

Whilst I was photographing further such scenes outside East Boldre, a gentleman, mistaking me for a birder, informed me that there were a lot of hawfinches about. I said I hadn’t seen any. He said neither had he, because of his eyesight, but he assumed I would know what I was looking at. When the conversation turned to the quality of the sunsets we were on more secure ground.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare, with which I finished the merlot






Friday The Thirteenth


Why would I go out to photograph a churchyard on such a dull day as was this one?

All will become clear later in the post.

Gravestones 1Gravestones 2

Here are some of the gravestones in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Bransgore;

Gravestone with anchor chain

many ivy clad, like this one bearing an anchor chain,

Gravestone, holly

or this already sporting its Christmas holly.

Gravestones, holly

A few are upright,

Gravestone leaning

some less so,

Gravestone in grass 1Gravestone in grass 2Gravestones 3

and others had given up the battle with gravity.

Tree stump and gravestones 1Tree stump and gravestones 2

The stump of a fallen tree was in good company.


This roller hid round the back of the church.

Door handles

St Mary the Virgin 1

As in most of our churches today, the front door was locked.

St Mary the Virgin 2

Fortunately for me, Jenny was working in the small office accessed by an open side door.

This very friendly person showed me into the church, currently set out for the various community activities offered, that can be found on https://bransgore.org.

Stained glass 1Stained glass 2Stained glass 3Stained glass 4

She put on the lights so that I could photograph the stained glass, much of the original of which has been lost.

Stained glass July 3rd 1922

In particular, climbing on a chair to do so, Jenny was keen to show me the preserved panel from July 3rd, 1822, bearing the etched date in the bottom left hand corner. To the left of the bottom of the orange cross the name of R. Carter, glazier, Priory Glassworks can be discerned when the image is enlarged.

Wikipedia tells us that ‘the church of Saint Mary the Virgin was erected in 1822 as a chapel of ease.[10][11] The church is of brick with stone dressings,[11] with a tower and originally a spire.[12] However, the spire was removed in 1967. The early 16th-century font, which is said to have come from Christchurch, is octagonal, with a monogram J D, perhaps for “John Draper,” the last Prior of Christchurch Priory.[11] The ecclesiastical parish of Bransgore was formed in 1875 from parts of Christchurch and Sopley.[11][13] Henry William Wilberforce, son of William Wilberforce (known for his campaign against slavery), was once the vicar of Saint Mary’s church.’

When we visited MacPenny’s Garden Centre two days ago we were given this brochure:

We would always welcome an opportunity to try out a new curry restaurant. When the proprietor had the courage to open the venture on Friday 13th, this proved irresistible. Jenny explained that the church had the facilities and was there to help local activities.

The evening in the church hall was most convivial, and the food served by the Bartlett family quite superb. Jack was a splendid sommelier who assisted his sister Sophie with the waiting tasks.

From the moment of entry our nostrils were enticed by the authentic aromas emanating from the kitchen on full view of diners. Everything was cooked to order.

Dave’ s cooking was a marvel. We began with superb crisp popadoms with a variety of chutneys. The prawn puris that followed were as good as any we have ever tasted.

Majid, the manager of the Akash in Edgware Road that I regularly frequented for more than 35 years, would remove from the table any onion bhajis that his eyes told him were not up to scratch. He, and I, would have given Dave’s full marks, for their perfect crisp texture and exquisite taste.

Prawn jalfrezi

My main course was prawn jalfrezi, and Jackie’s prawn bhuna. Both were succulent, and superbly flavoured. We shared delicate pilau rice and soft chapatis. Encouraged to bring our own bottles, we brought an Argentinian white wine that I can’t remember. Jack kept it in the fridge for us and kept our glasses replenished. That’s probably why I can’t remember what it was.


Defying Gravity


Our final resting places are often a matter of circumstance, history, and almost arbitrary geography. So it was for my father, whose grave we visited yesterday, featuring it on my post. Having, apart from his war years in France, spent the majority of his life in and around Wimbledon where he was born, Dad retired to the village of Horndean in East Hampshire, expecting to spend his retirement there. It was not to be long before his death, leaving my mother to spend the next thirty years alone. She will be 95 in two days time.

Although she now lives in West End near my sister, Elizabeth, Mum has booked her place to join him when the time comes, as she first did in the early 1940s.

A short distance from my parents’ then home lies Catherington Cemetery which opened in 1966, in time to receive my father’s body 21 years later. It is managed by East Hampshire Council.

Tim Lambert, in http://www.localhistories.org/catherington.html gives us the following information: ‘During the Middle Ages Catherington was a small and isolated village. It stood in the Forest of Bere. That was a great forest that stretched from the border of Hampshire to Winchester. At that time Waterlooville and Cowplain did not exist. Catherington must have been a very quiet and secluded place [which developed slowly until] in 1901 its population was only a little over 1,300. Meanwhile Catherington Church of All Saints was rebuilt in 1883 by the architect Edmund Ferrey (1845-1900).’ Villagers now number around 4,000.

All Saints Churchyard

As I wrote yesterday this public cemetery stands next to that of All Saints Parish Church, which has its origins in Saxon and Norman times. Currently the church is undergoing repairs to the drains and the roof. The tombs of Admirals Sir Charles Napier and  Sir Christopher Cradock in company with that of the actor Edmund Kean are among the residents of this plot.

Gravestones 1Gravestones 2Gravestones 3

Whereas the graves of those in the modern cemetery are laid out in straight, upright, rows,  those in the churchyard are the more familiar lurching, lichen covered relics giving rise to the unfortunate description


tombstone teeth.

Gravestones and Please walk on the path

I do not wish to be disrespectful. These stones may well continue to defy gravity for many years to come.

All Saints Church 1All Saints Church 2

We explored the inside of the rather splendid little building,  the Norman nave of which has been encased by Ferrey’s additions;

Vicars of All Saints Catherington

but, apart from the extensive list of incumbents, have been unable to trace historical documentation supporting the claim that the original church dates from the twelfth century. Wooden information boards at the back of the church state that the wooden Saxon building was replaced in the 1180s.

Hordle Chinese Take Away provided our dinner this evening.



Flower Arranging


Today is the hundredth anniversary of my father’s birth. Born on Michaelmas Day 1917 he died on Christmas Day 1987, so did not live to see this one.

Catherington cemetery 1

This afternoon Jackie drove herself and me to Elizabeth’s where we decanted into my sister’s car and she drove us to Catherington Cemetery where our father is buried.

Gulls at Catherington

The resting place is on high ground and surrounded by fields over which gulls flew

Horses in field

and in which horses grazed on this day.

Dad's Gravestone 1

We gathered at Dad’s grave and paid our respects.

Elizabeth with watering can

Elizabeth fetched a watering can

Elizabeth watering

from which she filled the vase.

Elizabeth and Jackie arranging flowers 1Elizabeth and Jackie arranging flowers 2Elizabeth and Jackie arranging flowers 4Elizabeth and Jackie arranging flowers 5Elizabeth arranging flowers

Elizabeth and Jackie arranging flowers 6Flowers on Dad's Gravestone

With Jackie’s assistance she then arranged the flowers she had brought with her,


Elizabeth photographing

finally photographing the result,

Catherington Cemetery - Dad's gravestone bottom right

which lies in the bottom right of this picture.

Catherington cemetery 2

Behind the hedge beyond the upper level of this modern graveyard stands the Church of All Saints with the much older stones of this parish dating from the twelfth century. We did visit the church and its surroundings, but, because of the lateness of the hour, I must leave reporting on that until tomorrow.

We took a leisurely drive back to Wickham where we dined at the excellent Indian restaurant, the Veranda. My choice of meal was tender and spicy Lamb Lal Maas, with my share of special fried rice, plain paratha and a vegetable dish containing cashew nuts, the name of which I cannot remember. Elizabeth and I drank Kingfisher while Jackie drank Diet Coke.

Elizabeth then drove us back to her home whence Jackie drove us home in her Modus. As we travelled over the moors from Beaulieu we experienced the benefits of a reflective collar around the neck of a dusky pony crossing in front of us. It is good to see that some of them retain their luminosity.



Sunshine having returned, we took a drive in the forest this morning, and found ourselves centred on Brockenhurst, on the outskirts of which stands

The White Cottage

The White Cottage. I’m no expert, but this looks to me to be a relatively new building in keeping with its bucolic neighbourhood.

St Nicholas's Church Spire

When we last visited St. Nicholas’s Church with Jessie and Guru I concentrated on the New Zealand War Graves, also featured in ‘There Is Some Corner Of An English Churchyard’ which has a close-up of the fern sculpture in the bottom left of this picture.

Gates to St Nicholas's ChurchSt Nicholas's Church

Today I paid more attention to the church itself

Gravestones, St Nicholas Church 1Gravestones St Nicholas's Church 2Gravestones St Nicholas's Church 3Gravestones St Nicholas's Church 4Gravestones St Nicholas's Church 5Gravestones St Nicholas's Church 6Gravestones St Nicholas's Church 7Gravestones St Nicholas's Church 8Gravestones St Nicholas's Church 9

and to its older, tilting, more weathered, gravestones.

http://www.newforestexplorersguide.co.uk/heritage/brockenhurst/parish-church.html tells us this about this historic place of worship:

‘Brockenhurst Parish Church of St. Nicholas is located in beautifully peaceful surroundings just under 0.5 kilometres (1/4 mile) to the south-east of the village centre. It is considered to be the oldest church in the New Forest. Indeed, Brockenhurst is the only New Forest village for which a church was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD – along here with 6 smallholders and 4 slaves with 2½ ploughs; and woodland at 20 pigs.

An earlier Saxon church was located on the same site as Brockenhurst Parish Church – Saxon herring-bone work can be seen in the south wall of the old Nave – and some consider that there may have also been a pagan temple or Romano-British church here, too, as the mound on which the church sits is thought to be at least part man-made.

Other elements of the current Parish Church structure date back to the 12th century, whilst the tower was added in the 18th century, and now blends well with the timeless surroundings.

This and other alterations were not, however, always so favourably viewed. John Wise, writing in the early 1860s, noted that: ‘The church has been sadly mutilated. A wretched brick tower has been patched on at the west end; and on the north side a new staring red brick aisle, which surpasses even the usual standard of ugliness of a dissenting chapel.’

Wise did go on say, though: ‘If the church, however, has been disfigured, the approach to it fortunately remains in all its beauty. For a piece of quiet English scenery nothing can exceed this. A deep lane, its banks a garden of ferns, its hedge matted with honeysuckle, and woven together with bryony, runs, winding along a side space of green, to the latch gate, guarded by an enormous oak, its limbs now fast decaying, its rough bark grey with the perpetual snow of lichens, and here and there burnished with soft streaks of russet-coloured moss; whilst behind it, in the churchyard, spreads the gloom of a yew, which, from the Conqueror’s day, to this hour, has darkened the graves of generations.’

And most of that remains true to this day, although the old oak tree no longer stands. The churchyard yew was, though, carbon dated in the mid-1980s, and found to be more than 1,000 years old. Its girth was 15 feet in 1793, 17 feet in the early 1860s, 18 feet 4 inches in 1915, and now, at 5 feet from the ground, it is more than 20 feet round.

Richardson, King and Driver on their late-18th century New Forest map show what is now the tarmac road leading to the church from the then turnpike, but give equal prominence to the green lane running north-south on the eastern side of the church.

Maybe in those days both were of similar status, and kept in a similar state of repair. But whatever, the green lane now offers quiet passage to and from the village, away from the small number of cars on the modern road. Overarched by coppiced hazels, and in places a very definite hollow-way with moss-clad banks, the lane in spring is bright with bluebells and pennywort. Here walkers can re-trace the footsteps of church-going travellers from many centuries ago.

Brusher Mills (1840-1905), the celebrated New Forest snake-catcher, is buried in the churchyard – the ornate headstone shows Brusher outside his woodland hut, holding up a tangle of snakes.

Here also can be found the graves of more than one hundred New Zealand, Indian and other soldiers who died in Brockenhurst field hospitals during and immediately after the First World War. An annual service, attended by a representative of the New Zealand High Commission and of the New Zealand Forces, is held on the Sunday next to Anzac Day.’

Domesday Book, Hampshire: General Editor, John Morris
The New Forest: Its History and Scenery: John R. Wise
A Guide to the New Forest: Heywood Sumner
Churches of the New Forest: Barry and Georgina Peckham
Brockenhurst New Forest Hampshire: http://www.brockenhurst-newforest.org.uk/churches.html

Pigs at pannage 1Pigs at pannage 2

Further on Jackie spotted a sounder of swine snuffling after fallen mast.

Ponies and pigs 1Ponies and pigs 2

Suddenly one of the saddlebacks began tearing around the trees out from which trotted three ponies who then stood off, at a safe distance, watching the pigs that had ousted them from their pasturage.

Ponies and saddleback

Eventually the horses gingerly returned, but, occasionally offering an irritated kick, still kept the pigs at leg’s length.

Ponies and pigs 3

Perhaps they were talking about this one. At any rate, its ears were apparently burning.

Pigs at pannage 3Pigs at pannage 4Pigs at pannage 5

The standoff was eventually acceptable to both parties, and we went home to lunch.

Later this afternoon we will set off for Emsworth where we will visit Nicolino’s restaurant for Ian’s birthday meal.




An English Country Churchyard


After dinner yesterday evening we popped down to Barton on Sea to view the sunset.

This morning we drove around the forest.

The thatcher I spoke to at East End, where the albeit somnolent donkeys were having fun with the traffic,

replied that the project was “beginning to take shape”.

Jackie on tree seat

Our next stop was at St Mary’s Church at South Baddesley, outside which Jackie sat on a seat cut into a very large tree stump.

Ken Allen gateposts

Gateway and church

Alongside the church stretches a patch of uncultivated land accessed from an open gateway dedicated to Ken Allen 1918 – 2005.

Path from church to playground 1

From here a  path leads down


to a playground beyond a locked five-barred gate. I was unable to gain any information about Mr Allen or the leisure area that I speculated must be related to him.

It was quite refreshing to discover that the Victorian church itself was unlocked and welcoming. I found the stained glass windows particularly attractive.

Cap on pew

Hanging on the edge of a pew was a gentleman’s cloth cap. If it is yours it awaits your collection.

Primroses, English bluebells, and other wild flowers wandered, as did I, among the gravestones in this English country churchyard.

Angel gravestone sculpture

Most of the stones were quite simple, but there was one angel and child,

and the amazing resting place of Admiral of the Fleet George Rose Sartorius, GCB, Count de Penhafirme who died on 13th April 1885 in his 95th year. This was 70 years after he had served with Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar.

Admiral Sartorius's grave 2 – Version 2

What is particularly astonishing is the knowledge that the credible articulated linked anchor chain winding around the cross was carved from stone.

After lunch Jackie continued working her magic in the garden where I did a bit of clearing up and repelled some invading brambles along the back drive.

This evening we enjoyed our second serving of Mr Chatty Man Chan’s Chinese Take Away with which I finished the madiran. Jackie didn’t imbibe because she had drunk her Hoegaarden in the Rose Garden where we had a drink first.

P.S. Bruce Goodman, in his comment below, has provided a link to Ken Allen, which, incidentally explains that the playground I noticed is attached to a school. This is no doubt why the entrance would be locked during the Easter holidays.