Tuesday, 12 December 2017

On this day in 1917, Lieutenant Lancelot John Barrington Walters died

H.M.S. Partridge, Royal Navy
Died age 22
12th December 1917
Lancelot John Barrington Walters was born on January 19th 1895 at Castle Bromwich, Worcestershire, and was baptised in the local church on February 2nd. His parents were Charles Barrington and Selina Harriette Perotine Walters. Charles was rector of the church at the time and subsequently became vicar of Stoke Climsland, where he was the incumbent when his son was killed in 1917.
Baptism entry for Lancelot Walters
Lancelot joined the Royal Navy, entering as a naval cadet at the age of 13 in 1908. He trained at the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth and joined the Home Fleet as a midshipman in 1913. Throughout his training, one of his colleagues was His Royal Highness Albert Frederick Arthur George, who was subsequently crowned as George VI.

Entry in the 1915 Year Book for Dartmouth Royal Naval College.
In July 1917 Lancelot was posted, fatefully, from Greenwich to HMS Partridge, which was one of a number of ships, based at Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, being used to escort convoys to and from Norway. On 11th December 1917 the destroyer left port in company with the destroyer HMS Pellew and four armed trawlers, escorting a convoy of six merchant ships. At 11.45 am on 12th December the convoy was south west of Bjorne Fjord when enemy ships were sighted to the north. The convoy was ordered to scatter and the Partridge and the Pellew prepared to engage the enemy in the form of four destroyers. The Partridge was quickly hit, and with her main steam-pipe severed was rendered helpless and a sitting target.
The explosion which rendered HMS Partridge helpless. This photograph was taken from a German ship involved in the action.
After being hit by another torpedo her Captain gave orders for her to be abandoned. Despite this order, Lieutenant Walters, and his colleague Aubrey Grey, were determined to continue the fight. Manning a torpedo tube they fired one which hit an enemy destroyer but failed to explode. Soon afterwards Grey was wounded in the thigh. The two Lieutenants then made for a boat but this capsized casting both into the water. Grey, although wounded, then performed an unselfish act of bravery. He swam to help Walters who was exhausted, and although badly wounded himself in the leg, swam with him for more than a quarter of a mile and placed him on the only vacant place on a raft. Seeing that his own added weight would endanger the raft, he then swam away and was eventually picked up by a German destroyer in a very exhausted state. For this gallant act of life saving, Lieutenant Grey was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Silver Medal and was subsequently awarded the Society’s Stanhope Gold Medal in 1919 for his action. Sadly, despite Lieutenant Grey’s efforts, Lieutenant Walters died and his body was lost at sea and never recovered.

As well as being commemorated on the Stoke Climsland War Memorial and by a plaque near the church altar, Lieutenant Walters is also remembered on the Royal Navy Memorial at Portsmouth and by a stained glass window at St Catwg’s church in Cwmcarvan in Monmouthshire, a place with close family associations. 
Plaque in Stoke Climsland church to the memory of Lancelot Walters. 
Portsmouth Naval Memorial.



Monday, 11 December 2017

A muddy walk from Coad's Green

Reconnoitre: To perform a reconnaissance (of an area; an enemy position); to scout with the aim of gaining information.

And that was the intention behind the walk we did recently. Every now and again we lead a day for one of our groups and we like to try somewhere less frequently trodden by the boots of our friends. The object of the exercise was to see what the route is like, to sort out any problems and to gauge its suitability for the people we have in mind. Here's what we learnt on this particular recce:

* This is a walk for the drier months of the year. It's been a long time since we've sloshed through so much mud. And it was top class clingy claggy Cornish mud: the sort that gets everywhere.
*  With the numerous stiles we came across (maybe around 25?), we'll have to think carefully about the agility of any group we lead this way (sad to say, we are all getting older and we probably aren't too far from looking for Zimmer-negotiable routes).
*  Just because the map says there's a footpath there, it ain't necessarily so. Looking for one such probably added 1/2 mile to the walk. And there were a few other, shall we say, 'ambiguous' moments.
*  When working out a route for the GPS, the more data points I use, the more accurate the estimated distance will be. And that contributed to why a 'just over 6 miles' walk ended up being a 9 mile trek. Mea culpa.

Having said all that, the views (when we could see them through the showers and clouds) were a real treat. All in all, a great day to be out in the countryside. And  any exercise is good to get.
The route we took started in Coad's Green, just 4 miles from us, dropped down to Bathpool, followed the Inny for a mile or so and then returned via North Hill. The strange shape was due to my trying to extend the distance to something reasonable, but not as far as the 9 miles we eventually did.
Looking westwards towards Bodmin Moor with Sharpitor catching the sun.
Looking eastwards with, more typically, a cloud obscured sun.
An old barn with the side 'extension' used at one time for the horse-powered winding gear. Strictly speaking, the extension is the 'horse engine house' (or gin gang, wheelhouse or roundhouse) and dates from the early 1800s. It was built originally to enclose a horse mill attached to a threshing barn. They are usually circular but sometimes are square or octagonal. For lovers of obscure facts, I can tell you that these structures were never thatched as the activities within shook the thatching straw off the roof.
Just a little of the mud we encountered all the way around. Hooray for waterproof boots and impervious overtrousers.
Here's something odd. Coming up to the crest of a hill from the Lynher, the tower of St Torney's church at North Hill. Not that the church is odd, it's just that from this angle it seems a lot closer than it actually was.
Just over the hill, the whole of North Hill comes into view and it's about a mile away, not that you have guessed from the previous image.
The core of Battens Farm dates from the Elizabethan era but has had many later additions. The official listing citation describes the original door thus: Entrance to left of centre with granite 4-centred roll moulded arch with carved balls in spandrels and ball and stepped stops. 'ANOD. 1581.C.T. VYNCENT' carved on lintel. Obviously a high status dwelling in its time and it is still very impressive.
After a rather tasty bowl of wild mushroom soup with truffle oil at the Racehorse Inn (sitting outside in the rain because we were caked with mud and looked thoroughly disreputable), we headed to the church and came across this notice. Although I'm not privy to the details, I do know that the closure is not entirely due to the very small congregation that attends services here. Whatever the specific reasons in this case, it's a fate that is facing many rural churches, not just in Cornwall but across the UK.
The slate tomb of the above mentioned Mr Vincent, with his wife and 15 children kneeling at the feet of Death. The tomb dates from 1606 and is a lasting testament to the wealth and status of Mr Vincent.

The slightly later monument to Henry Spoure is dated 1688. Henry was only 10 when he died and the monument shows his parents kneeling facing each other, with his brother and sister looking down from the arches. The colourful figures are painted slate and are quite unusual.

St Torney's a very big church and is reknowned for the two monuments I've mentioned above. It is over 600 years old but most of it dates from the 14th and 15th centuries, with heavy restoration taking place by the Victorians. Unfortunately nothing appears to be known about St Torney and it has  been  suggested that he (or  she)  may have been one  of  the  Irish or Welsh missionaries who  came  to Cornwall between the  5th and  7th  centuries. Early  versions of the  name  have  it as Terney or in Latin form  as Terninus. As a result  St. Torney  is usually  identified with St.  Erney, who also  has  a church and village named after him about 10 miles away.
A rather unusual piece of stone walling; we very rarely see vertical courses in these parts.
Almost our final encounter with mud. This field was not the easiest to cross as the mud was a few inches deep and slipping and sliding was the only way to negotiate our way through. At about 8 miles in, we really would have appreciated something easier. Notwithstanding this cavil, it was good to see the seedlings doing so well and, yes, we did our best not to tread on any of them.

Monday, 4 December 2017

A Yorkshire Miscellany: October 2017: Part 2: Some reflections

I've seen a few stained glass windows (and I do not differentiate between stained or painted glass) in my time and I never cease to be impressed by the artistry, skill and symbolism that they embody. My favourite era?  Mmmm, that's difficult to answer as they all have something to commend them. But if I had to choose, I'd go for the imaginative, the colourful, the ancient or the modern. Oh, that seems to cover most of them. Here are a few that we came across oop North last month, with a few plain windows included for good measure.
The east window (the one behind the altar) in Holy Trinity church in Gilling East. Apparently it's a fine example of a Victorian reticulated design. But you knew that already, didn't you?
A window in the Elizabethan Great Hall of Helmsley Castle, looking out on the deer park of Duncombe House, a scene that will not have changed for centuries.
A rather older window from the lower levels of the Great Hall. It wasn't so much the shadows that caught my eye but the graffiti on the right hand wall. Initials from long ago: I wonder what stories lay behind them?
More graffiti on the walls of this one as well. Possibly the tales here would be more interesting as this room doubled up as a dungeon at one time.
And now to Shibden Hall, just outside of Halifax, with it's fine display of original stained glass from the 15th Century. Here's one detail of a grotesque carrying a fish. Is it a work of the artist's imagination or their depiction of how they saw something that had been described to them? I'm reminded of a painting I've seen in a building of a similar vintage, North Mymms Park, just off the M25. That painting is of an elephant, which the artist had not seen and for which he was working from written descriptions. His portrayal was reasonably accurate, with the major exceptions that he's given his elephant webbed feet and a pair of wings!
This one is thought to be of a demon playing some pipes. It looks as if his genitals have been mutilated over time or, perhaps, just rubbed out by repeated touchings over the years? You know the sort of thing I mean: "Oh look, Sid, it's got a willy. Here it is".
And here they are in situ. It's amazing to think that they have survived 500+ years without being broken.
Here's one I particularly like. Our host for our Yorkshire break was, until recently, deputy mayor of Calderdale Unitary Authority. Pulling a few strings, he arranged for a very interesting private guided tour of the Council Chamber and Mayoral Parlour in the Halifax Town Hall. This is the stained glass of the canopy over the Council Chamber. Who would have thought that when my friend and I first met at Bassaleg Grammar School way back in September 1959, we'd end up in Halifax Town Hall together in 2017? A lot of water has flown under our bridges since then.
All Saints Church in the very pleasant market town of Helmsley. It was rebuilt in 1849 extensively and it contains little of its Saxon origins. It is notable for 19th-century wall paintings of St Oswald and this magnificent window depicting scenes from the life of St Columba.
A lovely church but a lousy guide with no mention of what this window in the porch was. The porch, I think, is a Victorian addition so it's a relatively modern piece of work. What attracted me was the light behind illuminating the quite muted colours.
An even more modern example of the window maker's art. And, again, no mention of it in the church guide or, for that matter, on the internet. This was in the porch but partially obscured by a recently installed automatically-opening door. Confession time: I think I might have pushed the door off one of its runners as I tried to hold it back to get a full shot of the window. In the event, I failed to get the shot I wanted but succeeded in knackering the door (just for a while, a robust application of a shoulder pushed it back into place).
The window tells a story. But what? And of whom? Obviously the window is dedicated to the memory of this kneeling man. it would be nice to remember him by name. Who is he? And how did he live his life?

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Andalucian pot pourri: Part 3:Meandering around Mijas

It's been a couple of months since we were in Andalucia and these are a few photographs I put into a draft post at the time. What happens on an all-too-regular basis is that I go away somewhere, draft a post with good intentions and then, when I get back home, I move onto the next thing and the post gathers dust, until it's so out-of-date that I delete it. Not this one, though, because it brings back memories of warmer climes as Cornwall moves into a damp Winter.
Our visit coincided with the annual Mijas Fair. A week long celebration, in honour of the patron saint of the town, The Virgin of the Rock. Lots of decorations were up and provided an excuse (as if I ever need an excuse!) for mucho snappio (impeccable Spanish, eh?).
Snappio #2
Snappio #3
Snappio #4

A warm evening strolling around the back streets of Mijas. Very pleasant.

What a lovely succulent. How pleased I'd be if I could grow something like this in my greenhouse. Anyone know what it's called?
I wish I could say that I remember what this is, but I can't. I was obviously attracted by the pattern but was it a gate? Window shutters? Lost in the mists of time.
I think the Hibiscus is a great flower to photograph. The green sepals and bracts, showy petals, deep red pistils surrounded by bright yellow stamens make a great study in contrast. You may not enjoy the botany, but I’m sure you’ll agree that nature offers a marvellous spectacle for those who take the time to look - and admire.
A better look at the naughty bits of the flower: pistils (male) and stamens (female).
The small Folk Museum in Mijas is a little gem, giving interesting insights into times BT (Before Tourism). I particularly liked this olive oil delivery bike. Apparently, daily deliveries of small quantities was the norm.
The local market at Fuengirola, possibly the least inspiring we've ever been to anywhere. Lots of tat and very few stalls selling local produce.
The beach at Fuengirola, with lots of people and lots of high rise blocks. Fine for some but not for us. We beat a hasty retreat back to the hills and our own pool...
....where we could swim accompanied by some local wildlife. In the background is a small gecko which seemed to have formed an attachment to an outlet pipe. And in the foreground is a small ant carrying away a much larger one. The physics of this are incredible when the comparative sizes are taken into account.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Horrabridge to Sampford Spiney and back.

We've done most of this walk before and it was one that was a pleasure to repeat. It took us over the border into Devon (shock, horror!) and gave us just a touch of Dartmoor plus fields, green lanes, muddy footpaths and views. A still, clear day and a delight to be out and about.
We started and ended in Horrabridge, just outside of Tavistock. We headed north east to Sampford Spiney and then returned near the river that gives the Walkham Valley its name. Around 6 1/2 miles and a good stretch of the legs. Sampford Spiney? Odd name. Where did that come from? Let me tell you. The first documented record of the settlement appears in the Domesday Book when it appears as Sanford. Simply meaning in modern terms; ‘the sandy ford’ which was on the nearby River Walkham.  The second element was added later on, being Spinne which referred to Gerard Spineto who held the manor, Over time the spelling slowly changed to that of Sampford Spiney. Obvious, innit?
Just a couple of bare trees in the autumnal sunshine.
The over-arching branches along green lanes, like this one, always form attractive verdant tunnels. Leafy in season and skeletal in winter.
.The church of St Mary at Sampford Spiney. In front is what used to be the Poor House and which was also used, variously, as the church rooms, the community hall and the primary school. The school closed in the 1920's, when it was deemed that the local children should walk the 5 mile round trip Walkhampton School each day. It was eventually sold and is now a private dwelling.
The tower of Sampford Spiney church with the corner pinnacles that are so characteristic of churches in this part of the world.
Here's a test of your eyesight. One of our group is a specialist in old churches and he was able to point out something unusual about these pinnacles. In most churches, the various pieces of the columns are held together by dowels. But in this case, they are bound together with external metal straps, which you should be able to make out. It's little facts like these that give a greater understanding of what you are looking at. Well, that's what they do for me. Others might think "so what?".
In the nave is a stone marking the vault of the Manadon families which, according to the inscription, measures fourteen feet by nine feet. I've never seen anything like this before and wonder why it was considered to be so noteworthy. Perhaps someone ought to tell the Manadons that size doesn't matter.
The small community of Sampford Spiney has a reputation of being very generous towards and hugely supportive of its church. The church itself is thought to have been originally built as a chapel to the local manor house and was first mentioned in 1257. Until the Reformation it belonged to Plympton Priory and services were performed by a monk sent out by the Abbot.

Until recently, there were some substantial stepping stones across this, the Black Brook. They were washed away in a recent storm and a little paddling was necessary to get across today. Walker's Tip: be very wary of standing on wet, moss-covered stone.
Just a roadside bank with, if you look very closely, the flat leaves of navelwort glistening in the sunlight. Rather attractive to my eye. I think I've mentioned on previous occasions that navelwort is called 'pig's bum'? And it does.
I've no idea what the H stands for but we were near Huckworthy. Perhaps it was something to do with that?
The Parlby Arms, which closed in the 1930s, was a typical roadside drinking house serving those travelling along the road from Walkhampton to Tavistock. And Parlby? A one-time vicar of the Parish.
The bridge at Huckworthy, a cluster of some 11 houses on the Walkham. It's present day tranquillity belies the fact that once-upon-a-time when the silver and cobalt mines in the vicinity were in full swing, it would have been quite a buzzy place.