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St Augustine’s Way from Ramsgate to Canterbury.

The Way of St Augustine aka St Augustine’s Way – I first learned about this particular walk on one of my many Camino 2017 practice walks between Broadstairs and Cliffsend last year. Frankly I’d never heard of St Augustine before then but by all accounts he was quite an adventurous fella. I did some research and decided to do the walk.

way of st augustine

St Augustine

I’d made a list of walks I wanted to do in the UK so added this as it was quite short at 19 miles from Ramsgate to Canterbury and seemed eminently achievable.

As it turned out I actually walked 28 miles (?) and the hours are only my walking hours, not rest periods during the day. I was able to tag the walk on after my Southwark to Canterbury finale that ended on 29th July.

Day 1 : Walked 24.03 kms (15.02 miles) – 8 hours and 24 minutes
Day 2 : Walked 20.93 kms (13.08 miles) – 8 hours and 04 minutes

way of st augustine

Broadstairs to Ramsgate

 

The Way of St Augustine; my journey from Ramsgate to Canterbury started really from Broadstairs, at which time I walked from Viking Bay to St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate.  I’d had some really amazing help from Hunter and John of Friends of St Augustine, who prepared maps for me and answered my questions about the route and where to stay etc.

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The St Augustine Trail

I’d decided to attend the Sunday morning service at the shrine and so at 07:11 on July 30th I set off with Pepe; my fully loaded backpack, heading for Ramsgate. The service started at 08:30 and I figured I had loads of time since it usually took me just on 45 minutes to walk the distance…Hah!! I hadn’t factored in the weight of the backpack slowing me down and forgot that I still had to climb the hill on the opposite side of Ramsgate Harbour and walk to the shrine…as a result I slipped into the church with 2 minutes to spare and sweating profusely from rushing to get there on time.

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St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate

way of st augustine

Shrine of St Augustine

After the service I took some photos (of course) and then joined the parishioners for tea and biscuits and a wee chat, and at 09:44, following the map that John had kindly printed for me I set off from The Shrine heading for the 2nd of what was to be many stops; St Augustine’s Cross.

I passed through familiar territory walking along the clifftops at Ramsgate and stopped for a swing in the park…how can I not? It’s my favourite 😉

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stopping for a swing 🙂

From there it’s a short walk to Pegwell Bay

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Pegwell Bay – I wonder how it looked in AD 597

and taking the clifftop walk I soon passed the Viking Ship and Cliffs End village signboard,

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Viking Ship at Cliffsend

then a right turn and within no time at all I found the cross….I can’t believe I didn’t know it was there!! Managed by English Heritage, it’s free to visit.

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St Augustine’s Cross

After taking some photos and getting my bearings on the map, I found myself walking along secluded lanes and farmlands. One field in particular was really amazing…sunflowers as far as the eye could see.

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sunflowers; a touch of sunshine on a cloudy day

I had got a wee bit lost just before this as the map didn’t show the massive arterial roadway that crossed over the railway and so I missed the turn under the bridge…but thankfully some fella was walking towards me so I didn’t go too far off course. He directed me back to the bridge and mentioned that he had done this many times before!! hmmm. I also missed the crossing of the railway line, but after finding myself in a cul-de-sac of trees, I again retraced my steps and hopped across quick as a flash…I loathe railway crossings.

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the railway crossing I missed…

I got to chat to a lovely elderly gentleman at this point and he was quite impressed at my endeavour. Actually most people looked at me like I was quite insane when I told them what I was doing. LOL Nonetheless I was on the right track and soon I could see the spire of St Mary’s in Minster. I found the abbey quite easily. Oh my word. What a delightful surprise.

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Minster Abbey

Quite different to what I was expecting, but just amazing. I summonsed one of the Nuns who live and work there, and she kindly stamped my Pilgrim’s Passport for me 🙂 Of course I took loads of photos and then visited St. Mary The Virgin Church.

St. Mary’s Church, founded in 670AD is known as the ‘Cathedral on the marshes’ and is the mother-church of western Thanet. Fantastic place with oodles of history. Sadly there was no stamp for my passport.

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St Mary’s – cathedral on the marshes

Quite hungry by then I stopped off at The Bell Inn for Sunday Roast 🙂 A hearty meal very much appreciated.

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The Bell Inn, Minster

The Bell Inn was built during the reign of Elizabeth I in the year 1576 and is apparently a pub with ghosts……The earliest recorded occupant of the property is one Thomas Calfe who is mentioned in a sale document of 1611. In 1715 the rector of the parish held the first tithe supper at The Bell and in 1718 with his help and persuasion a 7 day licence was granted on condition that no liquor be administered between the hours of divine service. The penalty for doing so was a day in the stocks, a heavy fine or in some cases a flogging. In 1864, The Bell was lit by gaslight for the first time.

After a rest (I took my shoes and socks off and revelled in the cool wet grass) and the delicious meal, I hoiked Pepe onto my back and made my way back to the abbey. While at the shrine in Ramsgate earlier I had noticed that there was a Gregorian chant event at the abbey in the afternoon, so I decided to pop in. Getting there a tad late (45 minutes) I slipped quietly through the door…LOL – I only entered right next to the speaker and with a huge backpack…quietly I was not!! However, it seems I had stumbled into what was a semi-private event and there was a fee to be paid?? eeee. Oh well… But the organiser chap kindly let me off since I had got there very late and wasn’t staying for the 6:30 event at the church…which was the chanting part of the event. Duhhhh. So I just stayed as long as it was polite to do so, had a cup of tea and a delicious slice of chocolate cake baked by the nuns, left a hefty donation in lieu of my entrance fee and at 5:30 I set off once again. Destination Plucks Gutter. Seriously? Plucks Gutter??  I thought I’d have a quick squizz at wikipedia and here is their description: “The hamlet is named after a Dutch Drainage Engineer called Ploeg, whose grave is in All Saints Church, West Stourmouth. Ploeg, being the Dutch for a plough, the hamlet takes its origins from the Dutch Protestant tradition of draining marshland by creating a ploughed ditch”. I’m really not sure how that converts to Plucks Gutter…but there it is!! Although just a hamlet it has an interesting history with links to King Alfred and the Vikings, smugglers and of course was part of what was then the Isle of Thanet on the Wantsum Channel (now built over).

Most of the Way of St Augustine walk was through farmland and along streams and what was once Saxon Shore, although I warrant that Augustine would find things very different to his time!

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channels of water and fields of crops

Whenever the going got tough, I reminded myself that they didn’t have it any easier…I think! The land has been pushed back so far since then that you can’t even see the shoreline from that point, so maybe they walked along the beach whilst I was dragging myself through a jungle LOL

Traipsing across farmlands and recently cut fields that left horrible spiky stalks that crunched underfoot I was in danger of being pierced at the ankles!!

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spiky stalks…horrible to walk in this

Barring my first misdirection, I had so far managed to follow the map quite easily with the help of some signs attached to either gate posts or barriers etc…but somewhere, in the middle of nowhere I lost the trail.

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signs…..here there and everywhere…and anywhere

The map indicated to head inland at one point which I did and followed a narrow channel (there were a LOT of channels and streams in this area; salt-marsh works and farmland as far as the eye could see) but the crops were so high and so thick that I simply could not find ‘The Way’. I tried walking along a particular pathway, but that was making me double back and there was no way to cross the channel which appeared to go on for miles…that I could see anyway. Eventually after walking back and forth a few times and carefully looking for the pathway, I gave up and walked back to the river. I could see from the map that it lead towards Plucks Gutter so figured I would walk along the riverbank till I reached the bridge. Hah!!Great plan….or so it seemed.

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sigh

Firstly the riverbank was exceptionally narrow and I walked (dragged myself) along long grass with just a few inches between me and the river. Mindful of the weight of the backpack, I was having nightmare visions of falling in and not being able to surface due to the weight of the pack…but thankfully I had my walking poles. They really came into their own at this point and saved me from many a stumble on uneven ground and a possible tumble into the river. Eventually my luck ran out and the grassy riverbank ran into thickets of weeds and nettles as tall as me!! I was confounded as to what I should do. It was getting later and the sun was setting. Fortunately said sun was ahead of me so pulling on my ‘big girl panties’ I plunged into the fields of corn! Never mind ‘Children of the Corn’ – I am ‘Woman of the Corn’ hahahaha

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Woman of the Corn…no snakes!!

The stalks were taller than me and for at least 30 minutes of plunging and shoving my way through, I could not see anything other than green corn stalks and a faint glimmer of the sun. Walking through these stalks was eerie and a tad unnerving. I was reminded of when I was about 7 or 8 following my grandfather through a small field of corn that he had grown on their property in South Africa. I was casually strolling along behind him when I looked up and right there before me, with head poised to strike was a thin green snake! Fuck! I can tell you that never have I been so terrified. I screamed, the snake snaked and my grandfather came up with a stick and whacked it into kingdom come…or gone! As the case may be. So yeah, walking through this particular field was rather unpleasant. Fortunately I didn’t see any snakes…but perhaps they saw me and scarpered. I was kinda hoping that like Ireland, this particular field didn’t have snakes!

After what seemed like forever, with all sorts of greenery tangled in my hair and poking through my clothes, I stumbled out of the field and voila the bridge was ahead of me 🙂 Hurrah!! Only problem was that I ended up in a boatyard of some sort so had to find my way through a maze and then do some serious climbing of fences and gates. Forget the signs that say ‘Keep Out’ …mate, I’m leaving, no worries.

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Plucks Gutter and the River Stour

I have also learned that I can climb a gate with a fully loaded backpack in situ!! Something I had to do quite frequently on this walk. LOL

Once I reached the bridge over the River Stour it was so much easier; tarmac! Yayyy. I was in Plucks Gutter…but thankfully not in a gutter. I stopped to read the history board outside the Dog and Duck Inn; fascinating stuff!! Then my feet hit the mac and I was off…only a few more minutes of walking to be done and I would be able to have a cuppa and put my feet up, but first I had to navigate this road. It was however quite scary since the road, if you can call it that, was narrow and had no sidewalk or place for pedestrians. Once again I sucked in my breath and set off….The Sun Inn according to the map at the pub was within a 25 minute walk.

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You are here….Plucks Gutter and Stourmouth

And what a treat Stourmouth proved to be, lots of lovely quaint houses greeted me…although frankly I was too tired right then to be more than a little impressed. Suddenly as I rounded a corner there it was….. The Rising Sun Inn – my accommodation for the night. And once again, exhausted and dusty, but not wet (thankfully), I stumbled across the portal and traipsed across the reception area. A lovely young lass showed me to my room, and brought me a much needed cup of tea. The landlady soon came by to say hello whereupon I ordered a platter of sandwiches and crisps – delicious. The room at the Inn was absolutely fantastic. A gorgeous big bed and an ensuite shower.

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The Rising Sun, Stourmouth

Within no time at all I had my shoes off, my very dirty hiking pants hanging up to air, and with my feet up on the comfy couch I settled in for a bit of telly. 🙂 Exploring would have to wait for the morrow…for now, I wasn’t going anywhere except into the shower and then bed!! It seemed perfectly apt for me to be staying at The Rising Sun since one of my ultimate favourite songs is ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (The Animals). I still have the 7-single 😉

A spot of history: “Originally a bakery owned and worked by the Monks of the Diocese of Canterbury, the first part of the building was erected in 1372 during the reign of Edward III. Continuing as a bakery and passing through a number of different owners, the building eventually came into the hands of Edgar Rake; baker and brewer in 1682!! Said gentleman applied for an ale and cider licence that was granted on April 4th, 1695. He carried out some building work in 1708 & 1709 but died before this more modern structure was completed. One Jeremiah Bedley; baker and beer seller took over the premises in 1709 and granted a licence to sell liquor and named the premises “The Rising Sun”….probably coz his patrons saw the sun rising after a heavy night!! LOL From 1709 onwards till 1865 all the Inn Keepers of The Rising Sun were bakers, working the old bakery and running the Inn, except for Thomas Lucke who in 1776 was described as a ‘beer seller, baker and ferryman’. The inn was for many years also known as the Ferryman’s Inn as the men who worked the ferries across the mile-wide estuary to the “Crown” (Cherry Brandy House) at Sarre, met here.”

I was hoping to see the rising of the sun on the Way of St Augustine walk and so to spend the night at a 14th century inn called The Rising Sun is superbly brilliant.

And so to bed…perchance to dream. I slept really well that night….the bed was amazing.

Day 2 The Way of St Augustine

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I have just spent the last 12 days at a job in a suburb of Preston, Lancashire and although I haven’t been able to explore the city (we’re just too far away), I have been able to explore Preston Cemetery 🙂 Although Preston Cemetery was established in and opened in 1855, the earliest year of a recorded death was 1781. I did search all over for this particular grave but was unsuccessful.

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery

The cemetery is a 5-8 minute walk away from the house and en-route to the store where we collect the newspaper, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to visit during my breaks…which have been a tad tricky to arrange, but I’ve deliberately made a plan to get out, even if just for a hour….or on my way to the store 😉

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Preston Cemetery, Lancashire. the newer section at 09:36 in the morning

I initially thought that the section I walked past was it…but one day as I explored farther afield, and wondered at the fact that most of the memorials appeared to be fairly new, I discovered the older, original section….now we’re talking.

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Preston Cemetery, Lancashire – the old section

Oh my gosh, it’s amazing. the Victorians really went all out on their extravagant memorials, some of which are quite simply outlandish…huge and ostentatious; urns, wreaths, broken columns, upside-down torches, obelisks, grieving women

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albeit a later burial; a grieving woman – Preston Cemetery, Lancashire

– many monuments in Victorian cemeteries are pagan rather than Christian, or classical (Roman) or Egyptian.

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Victorian funerary symbols

Victorian graves tended to be much more elaborate than modern graves. It was expected that a middle-class family would spend as much as it could afford on a monument appropriate to the deceased’s (and the family’s) social status. Monuments were usually symbolic – either religious (crosses, angels, the letters IHS, a monogram for Jesus Savior of Man in Greek), symbols of profession (whip and horseshoes for a coach driver, swords for a general, palette for a painter), or symbols of death.

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A wreath decorates the gates of Preston Cemetery

I’ve taken a load of photos of some of the memorials, but you can be sure there is a surfeit of extraordinary plots and memorials to be seen. Many of the memorials are unsurprisingly, but very sadly for babies and children of all ages, from the tiniest infant through to children of 10 and upwards into teens.

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memorials on the newer side

These early deaths are not limited to the Victorians, one memorial I saw was for two babies from the same family who died a few days apart at 3 months and 3.5 months, along with a number of other family members, different times, all young. Oh the tragedy.

preston-cemetery-3

this appears to be a family plot…so many all with the same name; some mere infants

In all my years of exploring cemeteries around the UK, I have never seen so many memorials for infants 😦

Although cemeteries have an air of sadness and desolation about them, they are fascinating places to visit with so many stories of lives lived, some long, many short, others in service to King and Country. Preston Cemetery is also the location for Commonwealth War Graves……too young!!

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Commonwealth War Graves – WW1

These cemeteries are also places of incredible beauty.

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery, Lancashire

I love the many graveyards and cemeteries I find on my travels around the UK, Preston has certainly been one of my favourites.

preston cemetery lancashire

life and death; autumn beauty in a Victorian cemetery

A couple of interesting, albeit gruesome articles about death, dying and cemeteries in Victorian England and London.

http://listverse.com/2015/06/21/10-odd-and-eerie-tales-of-londons-victorian-cemeteries/

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jan/22/death-city-grisly-secrets-victorian-london-dead

 

 

 

 

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After living in the UK for nigh on 15 years and Broadstairs for 18 months, I have finally visited Dover Castle. I acquired a membership card for English Heritage last year and making the most of the many venues I can visit.IMAG0753 - dover castle

I made a recording of the trip, however, due to it being an extremely windy day and especially right on the top of the hill, it was too windy to do much exterior recording, but I managed a little bit and also some of the interior…although for some reason I found myself whispering LOL. I’m really not sure why, but the interior just leant itself to talking quietly. Scroll down to see the video….20160206_143454 - dover castle

Dover Castle – the Great Tower at Dover Castle was
built to entertain Europe’s most powerful pilgrims on
their was to Thomas Becket’s shrine at Canterbury
Cathedral.20160206_140417 - dover castle

The keep was built between 1181-1188 by Henry II.
The building of the great medieval stone castle atop
the White Cliffs started in the 1160’s. At the castle’s
heart stands the Great Tower, a place designed for
royal ceremony and a symbol of kingly power guarding
the gateway to the realm.

Dover Castle was garrisoned uninterruptedly until 1958.

English Heritage have done a fantastic job of restoring and recreating the Great Tower as it may have been in Henry’s day. The Great Hall and the bedroom are astounding. It must have been super cool to live there in medieval times, albeit very dark and cold.

Besides the great tower I also visited the ramparts, the medieval tunnels…amazing, the Princess of Wales Museum and the Saxon Church and Roman lighthouse.

Dover Castle is wayyyyyy bigger than I thought and it’s a brilliant place to explore. I am definitely going to visit again….hopefully on a less windy day.  The views are astounding and the moat is awesome.20160206_150632 - dover castle There is no way anyone would have been able to attack very easily.20160206_151043 - dover castle

I superb day out. I can highly recommend a visit and do set aside at least 5-6 hours to explore the various tunnels and within the great tower.20160206_150031 - dover castle

Dover Castle, the key to England for over mine centuries, this mighty fortress of Dover Castle displays at it’s core a dazzling evocation of a medieval royal palace.  There are also secret wartime tunnels to explore.

I made a bit of a video of my visit…please excuse the whispering at some points LOL I’m really not sure why I felt the need to whisper, but the environment leant itself to speaking softly. There’s also quite a bit of wind noise…sorry 😉

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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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