Stoney Middleton Well Dressing and Fete
After picking mum up from my sister’s caravan in Bradwell on Saturday morning we drove over to Stoney Middleton a few miles away for our first event. Not surprisingly most people just pass by this village along the main road but if you take the time to turn off and drop down into the rather cramped village centre (called the Nook locally) there are all sorts of wonderful nooks and crannies to explore.
Colourful bunting was strung between houses and trees and there were plenty of stalls to buy plants and crotchet blankets, books and bric a brac, but first of all we headed for St Martin’s Church which has a very central place in the village.
I have been to this church on two previous occasions in the past but it is always worth another visit. It is quite unique in that it has a nave of octagonal shape. It was built in 1415 by Joan Eyre of Padley to commemorate the safe return of her husband Robert from the Battle of Agincourt. The tower is original but in 1757 the nave was destroyed by fire and rebuilt 2 years later in its present octagonal form.
The pews are positioned around the central and magnificent tiled floor which is directly below the eight sky lights above in the domed roof. It is very light and bright and the arrangement has a very cosy and intimate feel almost resembling a Quaker Meeting House and I imagine perfect for small weddings . As you can see below the placement of the stone pillars not only blocks the view of the person seated behind it but also cuts one of the pews into two unequal sections that leaves a singular seat near the aisle which I thought rather cute.
The village has a wealth of tiny higgledy piggledy cottages with beautiful gardens in full bloom.
Many have delightful little features like the carved number on the gate of this one.
There is water everywhere in Stoney Middleton – running alongside the road and under bridges like a mini canal or wending its way down little purpose-built gulleys at the edge of the lane – the children just love it, splashing about and jumping in – the duck races taking place later – there are no railings so you do have to mind your step. I hung onto mum for dear life so that she did not end up in the stream.
This year’s main well dressing depicted the little known Boot and Shoe Operative’s strike of 1818 which lasted 2 years and by the end of it they set up their own factory.
The Children had chosen equality as the theme for their well.
Although there was no information for this one we think it may be a picture of a suffragette to mark the 100 years when the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918 to allow women over 30 the vote.
Just along from this well dressing is the recently restored building known locally as the ‘Roman Baths’ and now open to view inside. The spring water is said to have healing properties and thought to have been first used in Roman times with the surrounding structure built around it much later. The two parts of the building represent the ladies on the left and the mens on the right.
The bath is 3m by 4m and about 1.5 metres deep and accessed by the stone steps to one side. The warm spring water bubbles up from the grate set into the marble floor and presumably you would immerse yourself in the water and keep warm with the aid of the fire in the corner.
The water then drains into a similar bath set lower than the ladies side and divided by a full height wall – so the ladies would have the benefit of the cleaner water!
Chelmorton Summer Festival
After lunch we drove down to Chelmorton which is about 4 miles south of Buxton and is a long linear village – the highest in Derbyshire, some 1,209 ft above sea level, with the church, St John the Baptist, in prominent position at the very top of the hill with the Church Inn pub opposite (you need it after the climb).
This is where we began our visit as we wanted to see the exhibition of Christening gowns inside the church and it is far easier for mum to walk downhill. We were not disappointed – we saw examples of some of the most delicately stitched gowns and capes across the decades up to present day. My mum loves having a good ‘memory walk’ so this more than suited her.
Both my girls and my granddaughter were christened in our family heirloom (see post on my previous blog click here to view).
On leaving the church we headed downhill admiring the Scarecrows as we went and almost falling over one laid prone on the grass verge.
The tap was one of those ingenious devices where the water was actually running from the tap which appears to be floating in mid-air (though logic tells you it can’t be) and the foam was beginning to fall outside of the bath tub. I was quite tempted to jump into the foam in the same way you are when you see a puddle or a mound of crisp fallen autumn leaves!
Mum chose to have a picture taken besides Humpty Dumpty (mum is on the right!).
The village is known by locals as Chelly – it was built on the banks of the stream known as Illy Willy Water and below is the Chelly Pound where any stray livestock from the fields were placed until collected. The Pound now has an additional modern-day sign which reads ‘No Fly Tipping’ which says a lot about today’s standards!
The village is also home to the famous stone built telephone box which has now become a mini library…
…and had been decorated for the Festival by the Yarn bombers in the village – obviously prolific knitters.
I particularly liked the pretty garden flowers and the Bee in the tree.
Of course one of the most important signs – the Tea Tent – for a most welcome cuppa, a sit down and a biscuit.
Before we left I had to take this snap – it is of Restoration House perhaps in need of a bit of urgent restoration itself!
We let mum off the long walk back up the hill to collect the car and waited for DH to pick us up.
We had a lovely day and then on the Sunday it was another drive up to Yarm to take my mum home, we had lunch in Thirsk but skipped the nearby Open Garden as it was far too hot for mum and me to be without shade.
I had my birthday day off from work today and I will have only four working days to do from tomorrow – the end is coming ever closer.