Slightly Newer News!


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We had a dusting of snow five weeks ago

This is the view from our spare bedroom window.  We had had a few days of snow showers but nothing had settled until we woke on the Sunday morning to this.  Up until a few years ago we got snow every winter, sometimes a lot of snow; but not now.


Homersfield church is dedicated to St Mary

Richard and I went to church together that Sunday.


Here he is, looking very Russian!

Homersfield church is beautifully situated on a bluff above the River Waveney with its water meadows and marshes.  My favourite approach to it is up a track through woodland.


The churchyard. Beyond the trees the land drops away steeply.


Homersfield churchyard looking towards the woodland where we park our car.


The woodland with snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)



The snow had all gone by the end of the day and the beginning of the following week was mild and sunny.

Richard and I went out for a short walk down the lane.  He can’t walk too far as yet so we weren’t able to do our usual circuit route but it was good to be out together.


We have been listening to bird-scaring cannons going off at intervals every day, from dawn til dusk since the middle of autumn. Wood pigeons do considerable damage to leafy crops such as oil-seed rape.


Bare trees and a see-through hedge

Further up the lane was the sheltered bank of a ditch on which I found a number of tiny plants.  They had begun flowering in the milder weather we had had that week.


Primrose (Primula vulgaris) plants


Primrose.  This is a ‘thrum-eyed’ primrose flower.  If you look at the centre of the flower you see its long stamens, the short stigma is hidden below.  A ‘pin-eyed’ primrose has a long stigma visible and its short stamens are concealed.  I will see if I can find a ‘pin-eye’ flower so you can compare the two.


Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys)


Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.)


Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)


An oak tree in a hedgerow. A dead branch has broken and is dangling from the tree.  You cannot see it in this photo but a single track road runs this side of the hedge.


The signpost at the end of the lane

We stood for a while and looked across the fields; we tried to walk a little further towards the village of St James but Richard soon knew he would be too tired if he went any further.  We turned for home.

For many months of the year our lane is covered with a thick layer of mud.  Our cars are perpetually filthy and walking is a messy business!

Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) on our pond.

I know it is spring once I start to see pairs of Mallards on our pond! We have also been visited by our Graylag geese friends and yet again we realise we have failed to clear the the willow and bramble scrub off the island they like to nest on.

I was pleased that my Cymbidium orchids flowered from Christmas until just a week ago.

They had produced seven spikes of flowers altogether, which is the best ever!

Here is a slideshow of the flowers in bloom in my garden during February.

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My music choice is ‘Laudate Dominum’ by Mozart and sung by Emma Kirkby.  I have been fortunate to have heard Emma Kirkby sing on two occasions, in recitals held at the church in my mother’s village.

Thanks for visiting!

Old News


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It is over a month since I last wrote a diary post.  We haven’t done very much in that time but the days are getting longer and there are signs of spring in the garden and hedgerows.


The central elements on our old toaster had stopped working so we have bought ourselves a new toaster and this new one manages to toast both sides of a slice of bread at the same time!  It has a ‘bagel button’ (though as I have never eaten a bagel I think I would prefer to call it a ‘teacake button’) which toasts one side and warms the other.  We can now re-live the old toaster experience, except in reverse.


Snowdrops in bud


Another excitement has been the emptying and repair of the septic tank.  Only those of you who do not have mains sewage can truly relate to this.  The tank was well overdue for emptying and we knew it needed repairing a year ago but we have been let down by our usual contractor and have had to find someone new.  The new contractor arrived and did what he had to do and was efficient and professional.  An added bonus, as far as we were concerned, was the wind direction on the day.


Hazel catkins in the hedge


We have decided to have all our internal doors replaced and a carpenter has visited and priced up the job for us.  He will be doing the work over three days next week.  Richard will then have to spend quite a lot of time painting the doors, as well as all the skirting boards and the banisters.  We hope to redecorate the hall, stairs and landing and get a new carpet some time in the next few months.


I’m not sure how many hazel nuts we will have on this tree this year. The female flowers have appeared before the male catkins have matured.


At the very end of January we had a morning prayer service at our church of St Michael and St Felix at Rumburgh.  The day before the service Richard and I called in at the church to make sure everything was tidy and to set the heating to come on well before the service.  It was a cold day but inside the church was even colder than out in the open!


I found the first rather bedraggled primroses of the year in a sheltered spot in the churchyard.


I also found my first snowdrops of the year


Rumburgh gravestone

This gravestone has a skull engraved on it.  Richard was asked to see if it was still in the graveyard recently as there had been a report that it might have gone missing.


The west door, which isn’t used anymore.


The west window

Work will start on March the 20th on the new tower screen in the church.  We have been saving for years and years to get the work done and at last it is about to happen.  Once the screen is in place the tower will be shut off from the body of the church and we hope it might be less draughty and warmer.


Black Spleenwort (Asplenium adiantum-nigrum) growing in the mortar on the wall of the church


Elinor has now left the City College but we hope this is only a temporary thing.  As I mentioned in my last diary post she wants to enrol on a one year Art and Design course for older students and has therefore filled out the application form.  We have been notified that the college has received the form and I hope we will hear that Elinor has an interview soon.  At the interview she will be expected to hand in a review of an exhibition she has been to see recently and with that in mind, we went to the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich and viewed an exhibition of 20th century Japanese photography.  Photography was not allowed in the exhibition hall but there is a large collection of world art on display in the main gallery, most of the exhibits donated by Lord and Lady Sainsbury.

Below are my favourites from the main gallery.


Edgar Degas – Little Dancer Aged Fourteen


Edgar Degas – Little Dancer Aged Fourteen


A beautiful Benin bronze – the Head of an Oba; early 16th century


Henry Moore – Mother and Child


Whistling bottles from Equador – one in the shape of an owl and the other is a bird sitting on eggs or pods.  Both 1000 – 100 BC


Another couple of exhibits from Equador


Sketch for a Portrait of Lisa by Francis Bacon


Standing Jizo Bosatsu – Japan (1185-1333)


The top exhibit with the ram’s head is a backstrap from a sword or dagger hilt – India late 17th century The lower exhibit is an archer’s thumb-ring in the form of a bird – India 17th – 18th century


Left rear – Image of the Goddess Kaumari, India 17th century.   Right rear – Shiva as Chandrashekharamurti, South India c. AD 1100.   Front centre – Figure of Chamunda Devi, Nepal/Tibet 17th/18th century


Walking Hippopotamus – Egypt c. 1880 BC


The Sainsbury Centre.  One of the first major buildings designed by Sir Norman Foster, it was completed in 1978.


It is a steel clad building with one face almost entirely glazed.


By the late 80’s the collection had grown so much that Foster was asked to design an extension. He decided to build underground and this is one of the entrances to it.

The new basement has a curved glass frontage that emerges from the slope underneath the original building overlooking the man-made lake.  This new wing can only be seen from the lake but as it was very muddy there and beginning to go dark on a very gloomy day, I was unable to photograph it.


The University of East Anglia’s grounds looking towards the lake


Part of the university. There are many items of sculpture to be seen here.


Another Henry Moore sculpture

The University has an excellent creative writing department and many well known writers have studied here. Tracy Chevalier; Kazuo Ishiguro; Ian McEwan; Rose Tremain – to name but a few.

My music choice today is a song from Katie Melua.

Thanks for visiting!

Highlights Part 7 : Redgrave and Lopham Fen


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At the beginning of September, I visited Redgrave and Lopham Fen with my friend Heather whom I hadn’t seen for over a year.  It was a very muggy, clammy day so not ideal for walking any distance.


Redgrave and Lopham Fen – one of the many large ponds.

The sedge and reeds were very tall so we didn’t manage to see much open water and the pathways across the fen were quite narrow and enclosed at times.  We got very hot and sticky and our feet were black with the peaty soil we walked on.  However, we saw a few interesting plants and we managed to catch up with all our news!


Water at Redgrave and Lopham Fen

Redgrave and Lopham Fen is situated on the border between Suffolk and Norfolk and is owned and maintained by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.  It is where the River Waveney and the Little Ouse River have their beginning.  It is the largest remaining area of river valley fen in England.  Its diverse habitat make it a very important site; saw sedge beds, open water, heathland, scrub and woodland can all be found here.

It is one of only three sites in the UK where the Fen Raft Spider can be found, though we didn’t manage to see it on our walk.  Nineteen species of dragonfly, twenty-seven species of butterfly, twenty-six species of mammal, four species of amphibian, four species of reptile and ninety-six species of bird can be seen here.  The beginning of September isn’t a great time of year to go looking for wildlife but we were pleased with what we did manage to see.  It is a place I would like to return to one day.


Hips of the Dog Rose (Rosa canina)


Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

Surprisingly for a plant so widespread, this was the first time I had seen this flower since I was a little girl.


Purple Loosestrife


Purple Loosestrife and Water Mint (Mentha aquatica)


Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil (Lotus pendunculatus)


Bird’s-foot Trefoil seedheads with Fen Bedstraw (Galium uliginosum)

These seedheads really do look a bit like birds feet!

Bulrush (Typha latifolia) is also known as Great Reedmace.  Common Reed (Phragmites australis) stands in this country are a priority habitat because of their importance for wildlife as food and shelter.


Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis)

According to legend, the Devil was so angry with this plant because it was successful at curing all sorts of ailments that he bit off part of the root.  The plant may have a short root but it still has curative powers!  Nicholas Culpeper says the boiled root is good for snake-bite, swollen throats, wounds and the plague.


A meadow full of Devil’s-bit Scabious


Broad Buckler Fern (Dryopteris dilatata)

Broad Buckler Fern has 3-times pinnate leaves.  Pinnate leaves are made up of leaflets, often in pairs, attached to a central stem and often with a terminal leaflet.  2-times pinnate leaves = the leaflets have their own leaflets.  3-times pinnate leaves = the leaflets of the leaflets have leaflets!  Broad Buckler Fern has a long stalk which only has leaf branches for half its length.


Probably Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrinum)


Blackberries on Bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.)  There is an out-of-focus Speckled Wood butterfly sitting on a leaf just to the right of the top red berry


Haws of a Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)


This might be Lesser Water Parsnip (Berula erecta)


I believe this is probably Amphibious Bistort (Persicaria amphibia)

It took me a while to identify this plant, mainly because it is extremely variable.  It has two main forms – an aquatic form, which is described and illustrated in most ID guides, and a terrestrial form, which isn’t often described and hardly ever illustrated.  The plant I saw is the terrestrial form.


This mole-hill shows how black the soil is


Common Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)


Guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus) with clusters of red berries

Heather kindly bought me a gift of two hardy cyclamen plants as our meeting was close to my birthday.  I took a photo of them at the end of October where I had planted them in my garden.


White and purple hardy cyclamen.  I am hoping they will spread out under the shrubs I have in this border and prevent the moss from returning as soon as my back is turned!

Thanks for visiting!


Highlights Part 6: Shingle Street


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After we left the Suffolk Punch Trust we drove a couple of miles to Shingle Street on the coast.


Shingle Street beach

I wanted to visit this beach to look at the plants and flowers that live on the shingle.  I had heard that it was a desolate spot but when we were there the place was teeming with kite-surfers!


Kite-surfing on a windy day


Kite-surfers on the beach


More kite-surfers. Here you can see the spit of shingle which curls round forming a calm lagoon.


The lagoon


The houses at Shingle Street


The Coastguard House


Shingle Street  Part of the beach was fenced off to protect nesting birds, little terns and ringed plovers, and to protect this beach from damage by trampling.


Shingle Street


Looking south towards the Martello Tower


Looking north towards Orfordness lighthouse….


The village of Hollesley


Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare)

The name ‘Bugloss’ derives from the Greek for ‘ox-tongued’ – the plant is quite rough and bristly to the touch.  Parts of the plant are also thought to look like a snake – the fruits, which are said to resemble an adder’s head, used to be used to cure snake bites even though the plant is poisonous!



Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium verum)

According to my field guide, the flowers are honey-scented when fresh and smell of new-mown hay when dry.  In days gone by, it was said to discourage fleas and so was added to straw mattresses especially for the beds of women about to give birth.


Sea Beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima )


Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare). Not an uncommon plant but I find it beautiful – and spiny!


Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris)


Sea Kale (Crambe maritima)


Yellow Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum)


Yellow Horned Poppy (with a few pollen beetles!)  


Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium)


Sea Pea (Lathyrus japonicus)

I was very pleased to see this plant still in flower!  Usually I find it too late to admire the bright pink flowers.  It is a nationally scarce plant but where it is happy it grows well and plentifully.  My field guide tells me that the seed pods resemble garden pea-pods and were eaten (apparently) in Suffolk in times of famine (e.g. 1555).  The pods are toxic in large quantities.


Sea pea


Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola) These plants can grow as tall as 200 cm/ 6.5 ft.  Prickly lettuce is a non-native and was first recorded here in 1632.


A Ladybird on Prickly Lettuce


I think this is a type of Mouse-ear, probably Common Mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum)

This visit to the Shingle Street beach was a very pleasant end to an enjoyable day.

Thanks for visiting!

Harrap’s Wild Flowers: Simon Harrap

Highlights Part 5: The Suffolk Punch Trust


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Last summer we visited the Suffolk Punch Trust at Hollesley.  Richard had been in touch with his cousin who had enquired about Suffolk Punch horses and wondered if we could go and find some.  We obliged.

The Suffolk Punch Trust is a charity that works to protect the critically endangered Suffolk Punch horse by its breeding programme, by making people aware of the horse and its history and by training men and women to work with them.  Suffolk Punches have been on this site since 1880 when the then owner of the farm began to breed them here.  In 1886, the Colonial College was formed where young gentlemen were trained in farming methods but by 1906 the site was owned by London County Council who used the site to create work for the unemployed.  In 1938 the Prison Service took over the farm where they rehabilitated young offenders.  When I first came to live in Suffolk in the 1980’s the ‘Colony’ was featured fairly regularly on local news programmes because of the very successful stud the Prison Service with their young offenders had developed.  Sadly, the Prison Service found it had to sell the farm in 2002 and many of the workers there were sad to leave the horses.  This was when the Trust was formed and the good work that was begun so many years ago has been continued.


Suffolk Punch Trust land with paddocks.

The Suffolk Punch is  a heavy draught horse specially bred for agricultural work on the land rather than as cart horses on the road.  They are massive horses with very powerful, muscular necks but are shorter in height than most other draught horses.  They were used on and near the battlefields during the First World War because of their strength and because they were accustomed to working on thick, clay soil.  With the introduction of the motor tractor the horses were no longer needed and many were slaughtered.


All Suffolk Punches are chestnut horses though traditionally it is spelt ‘chesnut’ without the middle ‘t’


We looked at the horses resting in their stables


This one was very friendly

The Trust also looks after other horses…

…such as these Shetland ponies and also horses just out of racing, that are rested here by the charity ‘Retraining of Racehorses’.  They then go on elsewhere to be trained for a second career.

The Trust also looks after other rare breeds of native Suffolk farm animals such as the Large Black Pig, Red Poll Cattle, Suffolk Sheep, Ixworth Chickens and Bantam Silver Appleyard Ducks.


A selection of old carts

They have a Suffolk Heritage Garden stocked with plants, shrubs and trees that originated in or are associated with Suffolk.  We didn’t get to see this unfortunately.


We then made our way to a large barn where we were shown how Punches are trained to pull a plough.

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Richard videoed this as well.

There is a saying about the Suffolk Punch –

A Suffolk Punch should have a face like an angel, a belly like a barrel and a backside like a farmer’s daughter

Well, it’s obvious a woman never thought that one up!

We walked around some of the paddocks and met many of the residents.


A very hairy black and white pig


A Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)


Richard and friends


Elinor loved this horse!


Black Horehound (Ballota nigra)


Suffolk Punches


A beautiful stallion

We visited the museum.


All sorts of things that would have been found on farms, in dairies, in villages, in stables and smithies.


I was pleased to see an example of an old farming smock covered with exquisite smocking!


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We found it a very enjoyable and interesting place.

Thanks for visiting!

Highlights Part 4


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We had stormy weather like this all through last summer!


Many beautiful cloudscapes


Cloudy sunsets….


…and a lot of misty evenings!




Richard grew Gazanias in pots last summer. They did very well especially towards the end of summer when the weather improved.


I discovered this rather chewed iris on the bank of the big pond in our garden. We don’t have any other irises like this. I wonder where it came from?


Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas)

I saw this damselfly on a lilypad on the big pond.  I zoomed my camera as far as it would go and then cropped the shot which explains the poor quality of the photo.  I needed to ID this damselfly which is a new one for our garden.

In 2014 I discovered a Bee Orchid in our garden and was very excited.  I looked for it again in 2015 but it didn’t re-appear.  Last summer I looked again at the place where I had found the orchid and was again disappointed.  However, a few days later I found four bee orchid plants about 2 metres away from the original plant.  I have already seen a few leaf rosettes this winter so I know that the orchids have survived.

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid


This may be a Southern Cuckoo Bumblebee (Bombus vestalis) on white Allium


A Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis)


Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

When we moved into our house we discovered one of these orchids growing close to the house.  I moved it to a safer place and since then it has done well and the plant has spread all over the garden.  I often find seedlings in a tub or flower pot where they seem very happy and grow enormous like the one in the photo.


Hoverfly Syrphus ribesii on Escallonia ‘Apple Blossom’


Five-spot Burnet moth (Zygaena trifolii) on White Clover (Trifolium repens)


Five-spot Burnet on White Clover


House-leek in flower


Large Skipper butterfly (Ochlodes sylvanus) on Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’.


Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)


Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)


Hoverfly Volucella pellucens


The same hoverfly next to a tiny micro-moth


Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum)

I have now caught up with all the photos taken in and near my garden last year.  I have photographs from a few outings we did that I would like to share with you and then I can concentrate on this year!

Here is my music selection – Chris Rea’s ‘Heaven’ – one of my most favourite songs!

Thanks for visiting!



January Chill


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Before I resume my Highlights posts from last year I thought I’d better write something about this new year.


Frosty path next to our big pond

There have been lots of frosts this month; probably more frosty mornings than non-frosty which makes a pleasant change.  The last two winters have been quite mild with frost being a rarity.  We have had some rain, even a day of snow (it didn’t hang around for long) and a fair amount of fog.  The  best days have been the sunny ones; a sparkly start to the day and then blue sky until sunset.  Freezing nights with countless stars and a moon latticed by the bare branches of trees.  Today the temperature stayed at -2 centigrade and a very cold wind and thick cloud made it unpleasant to be outside.


Full moon


Full moon

My life has carried on as usual – driving Elinor to college in Norwich, taking Mum shopping, to her hospital appointments and to church once a fortnight and when I am at home, basic household chores.  I have been very tired this month so haven’t done more than necessary!  I went to see my Rheumatoid Arthritis clinician at the hospital for a routine appointment and she seems to be pleased with how I am coping and doesn’t think I need any change in my drug regime.  Richard is feeling much better, though still has some problems with his leg and back.  He is driving again and we have resumed our sharing of the driving and shopping duties.


Birch tree in the breeze

I mentioned at the end of last year that Elinor had decided to try acupuncture to see if it helped to reduce her anxiety and its symptoms.  She had three appointments before Christmas and has had three more this month.  She would have gone this week but it was cancelled as the practitioner has ‘flu.  Elinor is continuing with it, despite it being quite uncomfortable at times, because it has made a difference.  The first session caused her to feel calm for the first time in her life and the effects lasted for nearly 24 hours!  Not all her sessions have been as effective but since Christmas we have all noticed that she has been able to make decisions more easily and has had the courage to do a few things that for some time have been beyond her capabilities.


Dunston Hall

The venue for her treatment is Dunston Hall, just south of Norwich, which is a mock Elizabethan building constructed between 1859 and 1878 but is now a hotel with spa, beauty and therapy treatment rooms, a gym, a pool and outside, a golf course, driving range and football pitch.  The acupuncture reception area and treatment rooms are ‘below stairs’ and I have become used to sitting on a sofa listening to ‘ambient’ music, attempting to read a book and trying to keep awake while waiting for Elinor.


Dunston Hall

She had her 20th birthday on Saturday and we went out for a meal together that evening.  She felt a little unhappy to think that her whole teenage years were given up to anxiety and, because she has no friends, she had to celebrate her birthday with her Mum and Dad.  Richard and I felt so sorry for her and wished there was something else we could do to help her.

The following day was quite eventful because she announced that she had decided that the college course she has been studying since September was not one she was happy with and was considering giving it up!  We spent the day discussing this statement and even though it does sound like a negative step I am amazed that she has been able to come to this conclusion.  She has been studying Graphic Art because she is interested in illustration work and had been told this course was the best one for her.  She has struggled with it and has not been able to attend many of the classes.  I have suspected for some time that she found it unsatisfactory but until this weekend she has said she thought it fine and was going to continue with it.  She has been told of a one-year-long Art and Design course at the college for students who are 19 years old and older and this is what she intends to apply for.  This week she has been talking to her tutors and support staff and has explained the situation to them.  Her final day is tomorrow when she will try to apply for the new course and discover if there are any short courses she can attend in the meantime.


A bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) in my winter-flowering honeysuckle. I opened the kitchen blinds this morning and saw two bullfinches in the honeysuckle. I found my camera and because I didn’t want to disturb the birds too much I crouched down by the window and took this poor photo while peeping over the window sill. I now know why I haven’t had many flowers on the shrub this winter!

We had a beautiful day here on Monday and wanted to go to the coast for a walk to enjoy the cold but still and clear day and also to recover from our surprise the day before.  Because of other duties we had, we didn’t set out until 3.30 pm and it was nearly sunset when we got there.


A still afternoon in Southwold


Fortunately Southwold wasn’t damaged by the surge tides and flooding a couple of weeks ago.


Herring gull (Larus argentatus)


The North Sea


Southwold lighthouse


The sea merges into the sky

My choice of music today is ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ by The Pretenders.

Thanks for visiting!


St John Maddermarket


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This is one of my occasional posts about Norwich.

Last summer, as I wandered about in Norwich while Elinor was at college, I saw that the church of St John Maddermarket was open and so took the opportunity to look inside.


This lane is Pottergate and the church of St John Maddermarket is on the right of the photo. The black and white building next to the church is The Belgian Monk pub

St John Maddermarket, dedicated to St John the Baptist, closed for Anglican worship on 31st December 1981 and for the following eight years was used by the Greek Orthodox Church.  It is now cared for by The Churches’ Conservation Trust.  Madder flowers were used to make red dye for the flourishing cloth industry in medieval Norwich but there is no evidence to prove that there ever was a maddermarket  in the city.


St John’s church, the Belgian Monk pub and St John’s Alley in-between them.


St John Maddermarket


The processional way (St John’s Alley) goes through the base of the tower. The pub is on the left of the photo and the Maddermarket theatre can be seen at the far end of the passageway.

In writing this post I realised that I needed a few more photos to illustrate some of the things I wanted to say about this church.  I called in at the church again on Tuesday 17th January and took most of the pictures I wanted.


The processional arch under the tower has a rib vault with carved bosses 


The Maddermarket Theatre was founded in 1921 by Walter Nugent Monck who, during that decade was one of the first people to re-create a Shakespearean stage.

There is a memorial in St John’s church to Walter Monck 1878-1958 (one photo I forgot to take!)


St John Maddermarket

Note the raised burial ground.  In the 16th and 17th centuries there were many complaints about graveyards like this one.  Because of the confined space allowed for burial there were often too many bodies with too little earth to cover them!  This graveyard contains the Crabtree headstone which has a pre-Christian symbol of the Ouroboros carved on it.  An Ouroboros is a serpent eating its own tail.


The Crabtree headstone with the Ouroboros at the top on the left. There are other strange markings on this headstone which I think are Masonic.  Why the headstone for Mary and Mary Ann Crabtree should have these markings on it, I have no idea!  I couldn’t see all of it as the churchyard is permanently locked and this is the view I got over the wall.


Wall of St John’s churchyard

William Shakespeare’s friend William Kempe, the comic actor, had an argument with Shakespeare and in trying to upstage him wagered that he could morris-dance all the way from London to Norwich (about 100 miles) in nine days.  He managed to do it (though with a few days rest in-between the days of dancing) and on his arrival he jumped the wall of St John’s churchyard.   He wrote about it in his book ‘A Nine Daies Wonder’.


Entrance to the church through the south porch. The door to the north porch was open so a view of the lane beyond the church can be seen


Inside the church, looking out through the south porch door


Looking towards the altar from the back of the church

The eye is drawn to the imposing Georgian baldachin (canopy) over the high altar which is supported on columns.  I’m not at all sure I like it there very much; it seems too big and heavy for the church it is in.  William Busby who was Rector of this church from 1898-1923, assembled a large collection of church furnishings and this canopy was part of the collection.  It was made for another Norwich church (St Miles, Coslany) and brought to St John’s in 1917.  It obscures the Gothic revival reredos (decoration behind the altar) which had been installed in 1863, and part of the east window.  The east window itself (i.e. not the glass) dates from about 1325 and is older than the rest of the church.  It was possibly taken from a former chancel.


A closer view of the baldachin and high altar


Here you can see how ornate the carving on the baldachin is.


This is the ledger stone in memory of ‘Dame Rebecca the deservedly beloved consort of S. Benj. Wrench Knt. Dr. of Physick, of whose singular virtues in every relation of life, the remembrance of surviving freinds (sic) is the amplest testimony and the best monument.  After thirty-six years happily spent in the conjugal state she departed this life the 4th day of March 1727 in the 59th year of her age’.


The nave roof is basically medieval but was heavily restored in 1876 after it was damaged in a gas explosion. It probably has a hammer-beam roof but ribbed plaster coving hides the hammer-beams.  There are angels at the edge of the coving.


The ribbed coving and an angel holding a shield. The stop at the bottom of the photo also has an angel.


This angel has traces of gold paint still upon it. Just imagine how bright the church must have been when new!


Another angel with traces of paint on it.


The lectern was made in the 18th century. It revolves.


Here is the pulpit, made in 1863. The banner inviting us to climb up and read aloud is for the benefit of the many school visits they have.

The pulpit has a sounding board above it which may be 17th century.


The sounding board hanging above the pulpit. It helped the preacher’s voice carry round the church.


The Lady Chapel


The roof of the Lady Chapel in the south aisle is painted


A detail from the painted ceiling.


Another ledger stone. “Beneath are deposited the remains of Mary, wife of Thos. Rawlins architect. A woman of strict virtue. Borne down with a long series of affliction. Resign’d her soul to Him that gave it. On the 31st of August 1785 aged 65 years. Also the above Thos. Rawlins who died March 18th 1789 in the 63rd year of his age”.


A wall monument to Alderman Thomas Sotherton and his wife Frances with their children kneeling behind them.


Another Sotherton family monument, this time for Nicolas and Agnes Sotherton.  They had six sons and five daughters.  Nicolas was a grocer who amassed a great fortune and owned much property in the city.  He died in 1540.


Monument to Christopher Layer (died 1600) and his wife Barbara (died 1604). There are personifications of Pax, Vanitas, Gloria and Labor on the uprights at the side of the monument.  See here for a full description


Three wall monuments and the beautiful clerestory windows above


This is the centre monument from the photo above. It is to The Virtuous Lady Margaret Duchess of Norfolk 


There’s quite a crowd of wives in this grave!  Margaret, Rebekah 1 and Rebekah 2; the first, second and third wives of William Barnham, as well as his daughter Elizabeth!


The North Chapel dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament with its wood panelling

Because of the gas explosion in the 19th century most of the stained glass in the church is from the 19th and 20th centuries.  The window pictured above on the right has many fragments of the medieval glass that were rescued after the accident.  Fortunately, no-one was killed or even badly injured in the explosion despite it happening during choir practice.


A closer view of the pieces of old glass.


The font at the back of the church dates from the 1860’s.


This beautifully made gallery was erected in 1912 and has made the west bay at the rear of the church into a narthax (antechamber)

The north and south porches, which are inside the body of the church, are at either end of this narthax.  The craftsman responsible for the gallery lived just a few yards from the church and made it in the Jacobean style.  (The Jacobean era was named after King James I and covered the first quarter of the 17th century – 1600-1625).  The choir sang from the gallery.


Stairs up to the gallery.  On the left is one of the brasses from the church which were removed from the floor during one of the many re-organisations of the church.

Apparently, there is also a room above one of the porches (I think) which has information on all the servicemen in the parish who lost their lives in the First World War.


A monumental brass that is still in situ in the centre aisle.  I believe this is to Ralph Segrym (d. 1472) MP 1449, Mayor 1451 and his wife. 


A monumental brass in the north chapel to John Todenham (c.1450) in civilian dress with inscription and scroll  


The wonderful rib-vault in the north porch

The north porch has much thicker walls than the rest of the church and many people think this is because it might be all that remains of the Anglo Saxon church which stood on the site before the current church was built.  The doorway is much more ornate than the south porch door.  (Another missed photo!)


Photograph of a panel depicting St Agatha and St William of Norwich


Photograph of a panel depicting St Leonard and St Catherine

Both these panels came from St John Maddermarket and are now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum

These panels were commissioned by Ralph Segrym whose memorial brass I have commented on above.  If you are interested in clicking on the links to the panels, I recommend you subsequently click on the ‘Further Information’ button.

All photographs are mine.

Information gleaned from a conversation with a Churches Conservation Trust officer at the church and also from the following books:

The Medieval Churches of the City of Norwich – Nicholas Groves

The Little Book of Norwich – Neil R Storey

Norwich – Stephen Browning

Churches Conservation Trust Church Tour leaflet


Thanks for visiting!

Highlights Part 3 Strumpshaw Fen


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It was our 22nd wedding anniversary in June and instead of buying each other gifts we usually plan a day out that we will both enjoy.  We chose to visit Strumpshaw Fen  which is situated in the Broads.


Pond at Strumpshaw Fen

We had hoped to see all sorts of birds here and I had set my heart on finding a Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon), as the Broads is the only place in the British Isles where they can be found.



As was the case with many of our ventures last year, we didn’t have as successful a visit as we had hoped because the weather was miserable.  It was cold, wet and windy – not a day for viewing rare butterflies or the Norfolk Hawker dragonfly or any of the birds we had hoped to see.   However, we persevered with our walk round the reserve and saw a few things of interest.


A broad


Small fry – baby fish in the broad


Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) in flower


A waterway in the fen


Yellow Water-lily (Nuphar lutea)

The flowers are much smaller than White Waterlily flowers being only 6 cm/2.5 ins across and are alcohol-scented apparently!


Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) with cygnets


Common Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) You can just see the pink flower-heads!


The River Yare


This might be Milk-parsley (Peucedanum palustre) the food plant of the Swallowtail caterpillar.

It might also be Hemlock! (Conium maculatum) They are both described as hairless biennials with purple-blotched stems.  Hemlock’s stems are hollow and purple-blotched and Milk-parsley has ridged stems that are often blotched purple!


Ridged purple-blotched stems?  I can’t decide!


More purple-blotched stems.


Hop (Humulus lupulus)


Dame’s-violet (Hesperis matronalis)


Guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus)


Common Meadow-rue (Thalictrum flavum)


Southern Marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa)


Ragged-robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)


Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre)


A meadow full of Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus)

The flower-heads of this grass are red-tipped and gave the meadow a pink glow!

Part of our walk was along Tinker’s Lane


Tinker’s Lane – looking back the way we’d come


Tinker’s Lane – looking ahead. Elinor is the figure in the far distance


Green Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens)


Not a good photo of Common Twayblade (Neottia ovata) Though ‘common’ I had never seen this orchid before and was very pleased.


Common Twayblade


a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) that refused to look my way!


Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

We enjoyed our walk round the fen and were pleased with the amount of interesting plants we had seen.  I would like to return there this summer if possible to see the butterflies, dragonflies and birds we had intended seeing last year!

Thanks for visiting!


Plough Blessing Service 2017


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Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while will recognise the title of this one.  Every year my church of St Felix and St Michael at Rumburgh holds a special Plough Blessing service on the first Sunday after Epiphany.   Epiphany is on the 6th of January and celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus.  The first Sunday after Epiphany is Plough Sunday and the following day is Plough Monday when traditionally, work on the land is recommenced after the Christmas break.  These days there is no real break for Christmas and farm workers do not suffer from the terrible poverty they did in former times though they are still not very highly-paid.  Here is a link to the ‘Old Glory’ site of our local Molly Men.  Please take time to look at all their pages if you can.


The decorated plough in the nave of the church


The decorated plough

I enjoy this short service each year.  In it, we look forward to spring, summer and harvest and pray that not only will there be enough warmth and rain to grow the crops but that we will not take anything for granted and will thank God for his care of us.  We don’t just pray for ourselves but for all farmers throughout the world.  Each component of the plough is blessed – the beam, the mouldboard, the slade, the sidecap, the share and the coulters.

I love the words from the prayer of gratitude.

From God comes every good and perfect gift:  

The rich soil, the smell of the fresh-turned earth.

The keenness of a winter’s frost and our breath steaming.

The hum of the tractor, the gleam of a cutting edge.

The beauty of a clean-cut furrow, the sweep of a well-ploughed field.

The hymn at the end of the service is ‘We Plough the Fields, and Scatter…’

During Harvest-tide we get a little tired of singing this hymn as all the churches in our benefice have their own harvest service and the hymn is very popular, especially with the farming families.  However, singing it at this time of year, so gloomy and cold as it is, gives hope and cheer so we all sing with gusto!


The plough and some of the costumes of the Molly Men.

The plough is left in the church over-night and is ready to be processed down the lane to the pub the next evening on Plough Monday.  There are no street lights here and the nights are black at this time of the year.  Flaming torches are carried to light the way.  This year they won’t be accompanied by the church bells which will be silent out of respect to one of the ringers who died suddenly a few days ago.

Here is a film made in 2010 of the procession of Old Glory with the plough from the church to the Rumburgh ‘Buck’ pub.

Thanks for visiting!