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Posts Tagged ‘villages of the United Kingdom’

While I was working in Oxted, on most days, I made the most of my breaks to explore the area and add to my miles for the #walk1000miles challenge, as well as improve my fitness for the Camino. On one said walk my feet took me to one of the largest surviving historic estates in Surrey; Titsey Place in Oxted dates back to the 16th century.

Titsey Estate Surrey

the beautiful grounds of the Titsey Estate

An impressive manor house set in beautiful gardens on a large estate in the stunning countryside of the North Downs. Sadly the house was still closed for winter but I’m hoping to visit when I next visit Oxted.

titsey house and estate surrey

Titsey House, Surrey

My walk took me along the lanes and by-ways of Oxted and I enjoyed being able to explore further afield. I’m participating in the walk 1000 miles 2017 challenge and this walk from Oxted to the Titsey Estate and along part of the Pilgrim’s Way took 1 hour 49 minutes; 4.57 miles / 11,735 steps.

titsey place surrey

the highways and byways of Surrey

I so enjoyed the quiet of the Downs pathway, just me and the birds in the trees and a few cows. I could see and hear the traffic on the M25, and although it didn’t really spoil the walk, it’s interesting how difficult it is to walk anywhere these days without traffic encroaching. We’re meant to walk for health, but if you consider the amount of traffic we’re constantly walking nearby to….well!!! LOL anyway, moving on from that thorny issue, I love walking and thoroughly enjoyed the views and the house looked awesome….roll on March end.

titsey place oxted surrey

views of the Titsey Place Estate near Oxted in Surrey

Titsey House and Gardens are held in Charitable Trust and for part of the year are open to the public offering and there are guided tours of the house.

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A couple of months ago I accidently attended the ‘Wicked’ Halloween event at St Pancras, where I got to see Lee Mead.  The Woodland Trust had their table and banners up and as I do, I picked up the brochures to have a look at. I, like many other folk in this country are keen to ensure that we don’t lose the marvellous ancient forests that still exist, albeit in small little pockets. The Woodland Trust are doing what they can to protect and replant.
So I read the brochures, and as 2011 year is my ‘increase my contribution to the world’ year I decided to include them on my list and submitted the form to become a monthly contributor.

I had no other expectations beyond that. So imagine my surprise and subsequent delight when I received a package in the mail the other day with a wee certificate that tells me I now have a tree dedicated to me!!! 🙂 How cool is that!!!

woodland trsut, the forest of marston vale, reclaiming enlands forests

Woodland Trust Certificate

The tree is situated at Water End, Cople, Bedfordshire. The village of Cople is to the east of Bedford and the woodland is part of the area known as ‘The Forest of Marston Vale’ – a project to plant up to 30% of the vale with trees as part of the reclamation of the extensive former workings of the brick making industry. In December 1999, 5,200 trees were planted; including oak, ash, field maple and cherry.

So of course I had to investigate and find out more about Cople…….my first port of call without question: google!! 🙂
This is what I found: (via this website)
The Great River Ouse is 1.5 miles away.
The village has a population of around 800 people, there is one pub, one church, one primary school (ages 4 to 9) and one garage which no longer sells petrol. The only village shop closed in 1995, but there is a shop in the nearby village of Willington and a major supermarket 3 miles away.
Cople has traditionally been a farming community but farming no longer offers work to many people. Most inhabitants work in offices and factories in nearby towns including Bedford, Sandy, Luton and Milton Keynes.
The name COPLE derived from the phrase “Cock Pool” which was a place where chickens were kept and that Cople was mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
The centre of Cople is dominated by the splendid All Saints Church. One of the most beautiful churches in Bedfordshire.
The Church was originally built soon after 1087 by the De Beauchamp family and later became part of Chicksands Priory. The list of Vicars dates back to 1237.

Guess I am going to have to visit Cople and find my tree!!! 🙂

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 On my ‘wish list’ was the desire to travel; and so I have, to villages and towns around the UK.   Not quite what I had in mind when I sent the message to the ‘Universe’, but there you go. 🙂

The latest on my travels is what at first glance appears to be a rather non-descript little village named ‘Cottenham’.

Cottenham, Cambridgeshire

On arriving in Cottenham you could be forgiven for thinking that it looked rather dull, albeit lined with some pretty little houses and some fine examples of Georgian and Gothic architecture, there was nothing much else to excite the senses. It reminded me a bit of that song by John Denver; Saturday Night in Toledo. Some of the lyrics go: “they roll back the sidewalks at night”.

...they roll back the sidewalks at night

Ah! But wait, we have yet to discover what lies beneath!

Cottenham it seems has in fact existed since prehistoric times, and scattered discoveries of Mesolthic and Neolithic tools have been made. Now we are talking! 

On a bend in the ‘High Street’, kind of halfway between here and there,

small part of the original settlement of Cottenham

on an area named the ‘pond’ of which there is currently no sign, are the markings of a very early ‘Roman’ settlement; now mostly built over with houses and buildings – the historic society has in fact been able to mark out the early boundaries of a formal settlement, long since disappeared into dust. 

What the area looks like now:

what was the original Saxon settlement site, now built over

part of the medieval Crowlands Manor, now built up

 Origin of the name Cottanham, appears to be Saxon, arising from the early English ‘Cotan’ for dwelling and ‘Ham’ for settlement. Most of the older houses along the High Street were at one time farmhouses.

The High Street, so named, is the longest in the country, measuring 1 & ¼ miles from the Green to the Church. The ‘Green’, a triangle of grass at one end of the village, is edged with lovely plane trees, planted in 1885 by Robert Ivatt, and was once the grazing ground for cattle, now an oasis of repose for the villagers, of which there are currently just over 5,000.

the Green at Cottenham, where they used to graze cows

Amongst the present inhabitants, many of whom are descendants of people who have lived here for centuries, are records of the Pepys family in the village since 1273 and the present Earl of Cottenham is a descendent of Samuel Pepys (the diarist) and recorder of the 1666 Fire of London.

Pepys house (Samuel Pepys; diarist used to live here)

Two thirds of Cottenham itself, was destroyed by fire in 1676 (mmm, seems perhaps we should take a closer look at Mr Pepys then!) The lady I was caring for has herself lived in the same house since the day she was born 84 years ago, and inherited the house from her parents.

Across from the Green and on the fork of two roads is the War Memorial – unveiled in 1921 in honour of fifty nine local men killed in the 1st World War.

memorial to fallen villagers WW1

On closer exploration are many fine houses, some of which are centuries old:

Queenholme built 16th century

The Wesleyan Chapel built 1864

The Gothic House built in the 1730s, was a red brick house, bought by the Ivatt family in 1770 and greatly altered around 1860 when the decorative chimneys were built.

Gothic House

front facade of the Gothic House

wisteria draped over the side of the Gothic House

detail above the front door

White Cottage – home to ancestors of Calvin Coolidge – American President 1923-29

White House (aptly named as it turns out)

As I explored the area on Sunday, I was drawn by the sound of bells pealing out their call to prayer! The ‘Parish Church of All Saints’; has evidence of a church on this site from the mid-10th century.

All Saints Church

The existing church was built in the 15th century, with a 100 ft tall church tower – and a sundial built into the side with the inscription – ‘time is short’.

'Time is short' inscription on the sundial

Across the road is the Old Rectory – dating back to the 16th century. In 1644 the Rectory was given to Oliver Cromwell’s sister; Robina. (I guess no-one would have argued with that).

At that point the road leaves the village proper and now becomes Twentypence Road – which derives it’s name from a parcel of thirty acres of land on the Cottenham side of the River Ouse, as described in Richard Atkins survey of the Fens in 1604.

Twentypence Road

At one time there were four pumps in the village, and with all but one subsequently removed, the remaining pump – erected in 1864, was moved to the Green in 1985 along with the horse-trough.

water pump and horse trough

Cottenham was a treasure trove of old houses, ancient history and houses with stories behind their walls.

Although the main road through the village was quite busy during the day the villagers seemed to prefer a lighter form of transport

the villagers preferred mode of transport!

On the sidewalk was a sight common in these villages; a sign board with description of goods for sale. In this instance ‘Pink Peony plants’, unattended, left on a stand or in a box or wheelbarrow, and as is common the instructions for payment are: “please put money through the letterbox”.

'Pink peony plants' - leave money in the letterbox

One day I discovered a book that detailed the history of the village and had a fine old time digging a bit deeper.

85 High Street; house of Fred Stone – watch and clockmaker and music teacher

house of Fred Stone - watch and clock maker

next door was the old Jolly Millers public house – burnt down in 1898 (now rebuilt)

Jolly Millers pub

Pond Villa’s built in 1902, and the last houses in the village to be built from Cotteham brick

Pond Villas

Pond Villas

120 High Street – Pond Farm; A group of fifty dissenting families, which called itself ‘The Church Congregation Society of the Protestant Dissenters of the Denomination of Independence’, worshipped in the barn behind this 17th century Farmhouse. Pond Farm was also the site for meetings of the Ranters, or Primitive Methodists.

Pond Farm

The village was a delight in it’s various architechtural styles.

Ivy House

Before leaving I took a stroll over to the old Saxon area to see the moat

Cotttenham moat

Cottenham moat - a scheduled ancient monument

The area has been listed by English Heritage as a scheduled ancient monument. The moat contains a small breeding population of great crested newt, which is strictly protected under European legislation.

And that was my excursion to Cottenham, a quaint English village in Cambridgeshire, not too far from Cambridge and a treasure trove of ancient and new.

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