The parish church of Lezant in Cornwall, has links to St Briochus, an obscure Celtic saint who ended his journey along the River Tamar by finding a religious settlement there. The present church is a fine example of perpendicular architecture and was restored in 1869.
If you enter through the porch it has an ancient roof with floral and human bosses, one rather strange one has foliage growing from a human mouth, the pagan Green Man a symbol of fertility. Once inside we find that the roof has oak timber and wall plates also showing foliage.
The most interesting piece within this church is the Trefusis memorial plaque and tombs. One tomb is a stone figure of a woman, probably Thomas Trefusis wife, reclining on a cushion and one of their daughter with a little figure of death behind her. The memorial is carved in relief displaying three shields, that of the families of Tresithney and Coryton and of course Trefusis whose shield bearing its arms quartered with that of my ancestor's Myliton of Pengersick Castle.
The churches oldest possession is the massive 12th century octagonal Ventergen font, that was originally with carved heads on each corner. It has a carved leaf emblem on its side as you can see.
Methodist preacher John Wesley wrote of his first open air sermon
"I could scarce reconcile myself to this strange way of preaching in the fields, having been all my life till very lately so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church."
John Wesley would go on to preach outdoors many times, one particularity impressive location that was perfect for this was in the village of Gwennap in Cornwall, a Cornish village situated in the heart of the counties tin mining region.
A depression, known as Gwennap Pit, that was created by mining subsidence, is situated on the edge of the village, the woodland that once surrounded it have long since disappeared, a direct result of the demand for charcoal that was used in the smelting of the tin. By the time Wesley visited Gwennap the pit had weathered and was completely covered with grass, Wesley described it as a round, green hollow, gently shelving down. John Wesley would preach in the open at Gwennap Pit eighteen times after first visiting on the 5th September 1762. Of this visit Wesley stated
“The wind was so high at five that I could not stand in the usual place at Gwennap. But at a small distance was a hollow capable of containing many thousand people. I stood on one side of the amphitheatre toward the top, with people beneath and on all sides, and enlarged on those words from the Gospel for the day ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see’...... and hear the things which ye hear’.
John Wesley's Methodism was popular in Cornwall, it's simple teachings of comfort and hope and ultimate salvation appealed to miners and fisherman who faced danger every day of their lives, people would flock to Gwennap where they could be reassured by Wesley's words.
My great grandparents were the second couple to be married in the their local Wesleyan Church when it was completed in 1904, my parents would be married there two generations later.
Born on the 28th March in 1819 was English civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette.
Bazelgette was responsible for building London's new sewer system in response to the Great Stink of 1858.
In the image below you can see the engraving "The Silent Highwayman" featuring death as he rows on the Thames, taking the lives of those who made no effort towards the clean up of river.
By 1866, Bazalgette designs were implemented and most of London was connected to a sewer system where the filthy water, that caused cholera epidemics in the city, were diverted along new low level sewers. These sewers were built behind embankments on the riverfront taking the water to new treatment works. By 1870 both the Albert and the Victoria Embankments had been opened.
Born today in 1430 Margaret of Anjou, a pawn in her father's grand scheme, married at the age of fifteen to the ineffectual Henry VI, added fuel to the fire that was the Wars of the Roses. She was one scary lady
Robert Count of Mortain was one man among many who fought alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings, for this he was rewarded with the whole of Cornwall, what little he was not granted was divided between between minor nobles and the church.
Mortain controlled his West Country holdings from his mighty castle at Launceston. He also built Trematon Castle, but most of his time was spent in Normandy or fighting the Danes in Lincolnshire.
In his absence Cornwall came under the control of men like Reginald de Valletort, who held Trematon and Richard, Fitz Turold, Mortain's steward, who held Cardinham.
Here we can see Mortain himself sitting on the right of his half brother William the Conqueror, his castle of Launceston and what remains of the Fitz Turold's Cardinham manor of Penhallam.
"In the year 1666 he retired again from Cambridge to his mother in Lincolnshire and while he was musing in a garden it came into his thought that the power of gravity (which brought an apple from a tree to the ground) was not limited to a certain distance from earth, but that this power must extend much further than was usually thought. Why not as high as the Moon thought he to himself & that if so, that must influence her motion & perhaps retain her in her orbit, whereupon he fell a-calculating what would be the effect of that superposition..."
( Keesing, R.G., The History of Newton's apple tree, Contemporary Physics, 39, 377-91, 1998)
Today in 1727, Lincolnshire born Sir Isaac Newton, most famous for his theories on gravitation, died in London.
On 20th March 1549, Thomas Seymour was executed on Tower Hill. Seymour did not clear his way to heaven by confessing to his sins - a power grab and the unlawful entry into the young kings chambers, with, it was thought, malice aforethought.
Bishop Hugh Latimer stated at Seymour's execution:
"Whether he be saved or no, I leave it to God, but surely he was a wicked man, and the realm is well rid of him."
King Richard III, the last English monarch to die in battle and the last to bear the name of Plantagenet was laid to rest on the 26th March in 2015.
Richard's mortal remains now rest in Leicester Cathedral under a newly carved tomb that is a far cry from the grave in which he spent the previous five hundred and thirty years.
The choice of cathedral had caused much controversy, many people were of the opinion that Richard should be re interred in a much grander cathedral, and most favoured York Minster. This resulted in the City of Leicester and the cathedral itself being subjected to name calling and abuse, which I found disgraceful.
To my mind, disregarding the facts that Richard died on a battlefield in Leicestershire and was buried in Leicester itself, it did not matter if Leicester Cathedral was not as grand as York, it is a house of God, and that should have been respected.
Leicester Cathedral should be proud of what they achieved, not only of the service which was respectful to all, but of the effort they made to mark the occasion. Flowers were in abundance, there were white roses, and yellow planta genista from which the Plantagenet dynasty gets its name. There were military and royal guests, historians, celebrities and members of the public, not me though, my name was not pulled from the hat. I watched it on the television in the comfort of my front room.
No matter that, for my husband and I spent three days during the week long re interment celebrations in Leicester. We started with a drive along the route the cortege would take, visiting Stoke Golding and Crown Hill, the place at which Henry VII received Richard's crown, at Dadlington where many of those killed at Bosworth were buried and Sutton Cheney church where Richard is said to prayed the night before the battle. We attended the Bosworth Field ceremony where the kings coffin passed directly in front of me. Finally, we queued among thousands of friendly people all waiting patiently to view Richards coffin in repose.
It is wonderful to think that I was part of history in the making.
In the March of 1199 King Richard I had arrived at Chalus Chabrol Castle. It was on this day, while Richard was walking the castle's perimeter that he was struck by a crossbow bolt in the left shoulder just below his neck.
An attempt was made to remove the bolt but the doctor -
"extracted the wood only, while the iron remained in the flesh, but after this butcher had carelessly mangled the
king's arm in every part, he at last extracted the arrow."
Richard's wound soon became gangrenous and he died on at the beginning of the following month.
Most of us will know that Mont Saint Michel is a medieval village that becomes an island at high tide. Meandering through its streets, reaching its summit and strolling around the Abbey is a delight and worth the walk. We did just this in 2007 as you can see from my photograph.
At the time, as I gazed out over the abbey's walls and down onto the lands that surround it, I did not realise what I was looking at was, in fact, salt meadows.
These salt marshes are grassy pastures that are used as grazing areas for sheep. The lush green grasses are halophyte grasses that have a high salinity and iodine content.
Sheep have been reared in the bay of Mont Saint Michel since the 11th century, and during that time the abbey monks had the right to pick the best ewe from every farm. The meat from the sheep, or Agneau de pre-sale (Salt Meadow Lamb) have a distinct taste that is considered a delicacy, that is mainly served at Easter time.
History is so interesting isn't it? Do you love the story of King Alfred's unsuccessful afternoon in the kitchen or King Cnut unsuccessful attempt not to get his feet wet? Maybe you're interested in when the Normans landing on our shores or the stories of an era closer to our time?
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Thomas Vaughan: An Introduction
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