Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tolethorpe Hall and Shakespeare's Henry V

The grounds are open from 5pm, so that people can take a picnic, or buy one to eat before the performance. The surroundings are beautiful, so we decided to do just that. 
It was a wee bit chill, but very pleasant, and less rushed than eating early at home.
Good show too - Henry V.

After the play, at about 10.45, the sky was clear and starlit, and an orangey crescent moon looked huge behind the trees as we drove home.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Helpston - John Clare Festival

We picked up a flyer for the John Clare Festival, held in Helpston each year on the date nearest the date of birth of the "Peasant Poet".  We only went over for one of the festival events. Was the Chris Harrison performing at the concert in the church someone we used to know? No, he wasn't, but the concert was well worth attending.  
Chris Harrison was singing his settings of poems written by his great-great-grandfather, the self-educated and once well-known "Pitman Poet" from the Northumbrian coalfields, Joseph Skipsey. 
A generation younger than John Clare, Skipsey's family had moved from work on the land to work in the pits, and his life and work reflected and continued some of Clare's concerns.

When I see the picture below, I wonder how I managed to miss this as I wandered round the churchyard before the concert! This is John Clare's grave, complete with its new headstone. The inscriptions are illegible on the tombstone.

Sacred to the memory of 
John Clare
The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet
born July 13 1793 died May 20 1864

Here rest the Hopes and Ashes of John Clare

 A poet is born not made. 

The baskets of flowers are "Midsummer Cushions" made by local schoolchildren each year, reviving an old custom John Clare mentioned:
“It is a very old custom among villagers in summer time to stick a piece of greensward full of field flowers and place it as an ornament in their cottages which ornaments are called Midsummer cushions.”

 The concert took place in St Botolph's church - light and airy with white walls inside, and the door wide open on this summer evening. The entrance path is fringed with bushes of lavender, alive with bees.
Afterwards, we strolled up to the John Clare Cottage, now a museum and cafe.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Belton House

Exploring and making use of the National Trust membership! Belton House was well worth the visit - lovely house and grounds.
The stables block and the archway to the house itself.
Who is this lurking in the ivy?
Monarch of all I survey?

A splendid ceiling in one of the rooms
Stairway and hall with gilt patterns and a portrait by Leighton.
One of several stone urns in the formal gardens
Statue in the formal gardens
Belton church where there are the remains of many of the Cust family who owned Belton House
The lion exedra - so we're told

Small statue in the Orangery glimpsed through the window
and another

Flowers and small tortoiseshell butterfly in the walled garden
Pillar in Belton Church
and the font.
The boathouse and small lake
A modest, or a cheeky statue near the maze.