Tuesday, 26 May 2009

St Martins Church

St Martin's Church, built principally of Heavitree sandstone, stands close by the Cathedral in Exeter. It was consecrated on 6th July 1065 in the time of Edward the Confessor and a year before William of Normandy invaded England and took the throne from Harold Godwinson, King Harold II.

The church was dedicated to 'The Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Cross, and Mary Mother of Christ, and St. Martin, Bishop, and All Saints". That sounds to me like someone was covering all their bases and making sure they didn't offend anyone! A little of the original masonry exists in the walls of the nave.

The roof is a typical Devon waggon roof.

The altar rails - visible at the bottom of the above picture - have twisted balusters and were set close enough together to keep dogs from the altar, as prescribed by Archbishop Laud in the 1630s.

The monuments are a notable feature of the church and this one to Philip Hooper shows him kneeling at a prayer desk with a skull and a pile of books. More skulls are placed below the monument - all in all a fairly gruesome affair.

The windows all date from the 14th or 15th Centuries and the large window in the South wall of the nave is made of white Beer stone which was much used in the cathedral. The large windows fill the church with light - a sharp contrast to what one would expect from its cramped situation in the corner of the Cathedral precinct.
There is some medieval glass in the windows and the South window has the three shovellers heads of Bishop Lacy (1420-1455) who gave a window (presumably this one) to the church.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

What a mess

It is amazing how a simple notice can boost the image of an area - in this case the city centre in Exeter.

This tree is poorly. The root system can no longer sustain the crown. As a result it has been necessary to remove th grass from around its rootss. The area of ground looks a bit of a mess - but no worse than the 'grass' areas of many town centres.

Nevertheless, Exeter City Council, proud of their city centre have put this notice by the tree. It explains the situation and apologises. But in my view it does much more than that - it shows that Exeter cares - about its enviroment and about its residents and visitors.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


The Yellow Flag Irises are flowering in the South West Pond at Frog End.

I took a couple of photos and played with one to create a black and white picture. I do like the effect of black and white.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Cricklepit Mill

At the kind invitation of Devon Wildlife Trust I had a trip around Cricklepit Mill near the Quay and a fascinating visit it was.

My guide explained the history of the mill and the fulling industry. Fulling was a finishing process in which the woven or knitted cloth was subjected to moisture, heat and friction causing it to shrink considerably in both directions and become compact and solid.

The Mill dates from mediaeval times, though much of the present building is 19th century, and there are records of mills on the site from the 13th century.

The mills - of which there were a number here at one time - were also used for grinding corn and this wheel powered two millstones which can still be operated thanks to the restoration work done by the Trust and its partners.

All the mill wheels are undershot - that is, the water flows underneath them rather than dropping onto them from above.

Some of the magnificent machinery.

Martin, the millwright, was working on restoring a third mill wheel while I was there.

This was the drying house. It has been reconstructed in such a way that the shape of the former building can be seen. The brick pillars represent where the wooden ones would have been. Between the pillars would have been space for the air to go through. Inside the building the tenterhooks can still be seen.

The modern part of the Trust offices stand on the site of the Mill owners cottage and its adjacent tenements. The roof is covered with turves of Sedum.

The cottage had access on the ground floor from the mill and the upper floor from Cricklepit Lane - this medieval street.

More detail about Cricklepit Mill can be found on Exeter Memories.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Around the West Gate

All four of the gates in Exeter's walls went in the early nineteenth century but this is the site of the West Gate. It was successfully defended against attacks by rebels in 1549 and saw William of Orange enter the city with his army in 1688. It was demolished in 1813. The area would look a lot nicer without cars in the way but I suppose if I were in a car I'd be grateful for the parking.

The old city wall survives in many places around the centre and its height can be told by gauging it against such things as this lamppost. I wouldn't have liked to attack the city knowing I'd have to get over that height with people firing arrows or guns at me or dropping things onto me.

Nowadays one of its main attractions is the flowers that grow out of the cracks between the stones.

This is the Parish Church of St Mary Steps.

The church is situated in West Street and is noted for the ancient clock projecting from the tower with three figures popularly known as Matthew the Miller and his two Sons. The dial is embellished with designs representing the four seasons. Above the dial is an alcove containing three automatic figures; seated in the centre is a statue of Henry VIII [r. 1509-1547], and when the clock strikes the hours he inclines his head at each stroke. On each side of the central figure is a soldier with a hammer in one hand and a javelin in the other; beneath their feet are bells on which they strike the quarters with the hammers.

Next to the church is Stepcote Hill - the oldest surviving street in Exeter.

Its name comes from the Old English word for steep, rather than from step.

The hill had been used as the main route into Exeter from the river since Roman times. Strings of pack horses would bring wool and cloth up the hill from Cornwall and Plymouth.

It was also used by William of Orange and his troops in 1688. They were followed by a procession of almost 2,000 people.

If you need a drink when you get to the top of the hill you can call in at the Fat Pig.

I've seen fatter!

All this and a bookshop too!

At one stage this part of Exeter had the worst living conditions in SW England and you can learn more about Stepcote Hill at Exeter Memories. The site includes a photo from around 1900.

Eighteen months or so

Helen and Ian moved into Frog End in September 2007.

This is the difference they have made to the back garden in that time.

September 2007

August 2008

May 2009

Two ponds, a lawn, fencing, flowerbeds, trees, vegetable garden - it's all a bit different, isn't it. Not bad for about 20 months when you bear in mind they've worked on the house as well.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Rambling at Frog-End

Rambling at Frog-End.

Daughter-who-takes-photos is described by GB as Niece-who-loves-nature. One aspect of nature that she doesn't like is anything arachnological! So when she found a nest of 200 baby Garden Spiders she was kind enough to call me to photograph them but kept well clear herself.

One of the spells of sunshine on Saturday brought out some hoverflies. This is Episyrphus balteatus, a common species.

The clematis has had lots of flowers on for a while now - it is Clematis 'Pink Champagne'.

This Ichneumon fly was wandering over the Hydrangea searching for eggs or caterpillars in which to lay its own eggs. The sharp thing at its rear end is not a sting but an ovipositor for piercing things so as to lay its eggs inside them.

These Primula japonica are among the flowers helping to make the back garden look attractive at this time of year.

And the Sweet Rocket and Geums have just come out in the last week.

Friday, 15 May 2009

The House That Moved

GB has blogged about people moving house in New Zealand on a couple of occasions. This is another house that moved. The House That Moved, looks like it has always been in its present position and is a favourite on the tourist itinerary.

Once known as Merchant House, it was in the way of a new road being built in Exeter in 1961 and was scheduled for demolition. It dated from about 1500, although some thought it may be as old as 14th century. It was certainly one of the oldest surviving houses in Exeter. In a poor state of repair, it didn't seem that important a loss to some people but with pressure from archaeologists, it was 'listed' just in time, as an important building of architectural and historic significance, and the demolition was halted. Exeter City Council, with help from the government decided to spend £10,000 to have the house moved out of the way of the new road.

A London company was contracted to move the house about 100 yards from its site on the corner of Edmund Street and Frog Street to a new position by the old West Gate. It took several weeks to prepare the house for the move - the timber framework of the house was criss-crossed with strengthening timbers and iron wheels placed at each corner attached to hydraulic jacks. No iron bolts, screws or supports were used against the original timbers, to prevent damage. The structure was top heavy, so during the move, the jacks would be used to ensure that it was always kept upright, with frequent checks made using spirit levels. During the move a mouse was seen wandering about in the timbers!

After its move it was occupied by an antique dealer, then a gem dealer and now it is a wedding dress shop. It has a rear kitchen, a first floor hall, or principal living room and on the top floor was the solar, or principal bedroom.