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go back to the last page you were on Grave Matters in the Shires

Woodford, Adderbury, Bulkington and rain!

On the following day we travelled to Woodford, near Thrapston, in Northamptonshire. It was from here that my late husband's family emigrated to New Zealand in 1856. It was a disappointment to find the church locked and so we had to content ourselves with checking the graves.

The cemetery was delightful, with drifts of daffodils here and there. Many of the older stones had been set against the wall, and where they had been was just grass. It was a lovely scene, with the roofs of old buildings showing over the far boundary. Looking downhill the River Nene was visible, in a flooded state, flowing through the watermeadows. I was pleased to note that, as I have followed the history of this river, its effect on the siting of settlements, and attempts at river control.

It was immediately apparent that we were in an area with a much more durable stone. Most grave inscriptions were decipherable, with occasionally a little more effort needed. So we collected up some EATON and ABBOTT graves for our notebooks and took photographs.

But no WELLS that we could see!

We had spent an age there, so stopped briefly on the Village Green, to take some more photographs. Then we headed for Thrapston, for lunch. Although the church looked interesting we were tired, and had the drive home ahead of us, so had to forego that pleasure.

Ten days later Richard and I were to visit my schoolfriend in East Hagbourne, near Didcot, to have lunch with her. We set off extra early, pausing at Long Itchington to take a photograph of the barges on the canal. It was a very picturesque scene and due to many factors, including a gt-grandfather who was a lock-keeper, I have an interest and affection for the canals and the craft on them.

The rain increased in intensity, until when we reached Adderbury, it was a downpour. The parish church of St Mary's, was impressive despite the rain. It is reputed to be one of the finest churches in the county. I contented myself with a photograph of the Lych gate entrance, with a glimpse of the church beyond.

Richard felt that he'd seen enough churches and elected to sit and listen to the radio. So I went alone --- and what a feast to the eyes it proved to be.

A splendid interior, reflecting ample patronage.

Woodford Cemetery

Woodford cemetery. On this side of the church most of the gravestones had been removed and leaned up against one of the boundary walls. It was a very pretty view. On the other side of the church there were rows of gravestones, most fairly well preserved because of the hardier stone of the area.

Woodford Cemetery - looking out on the flooding River Nene

The cemetery slopes down towards the River Nene and as it had been rather wet and there was snow melt from the Northampton hinterland, the river was overflowing into the adjacent water-meadows.

Woodford War Memorial and Village Green

The centre of Woodford "old" village was on the crown of the hill, and the lanes descended towards the church and the river. Newer development sprawls away from this central point.

Interior of St Mary's, Adderbury

A side chapel, St Mary's Adderbury

I don't know whether this is a side chapel, but it does have an altar, which from my reading was hidden, and then rediscovered. This could date back to those troublesome Civil War days and/or the Roundhead constraints. Anyway it is to the side of the church---the south wall I believe. On the wall, you can see the engraved memorial plaque to the Bustard family, who lived and died in the 1500s.

It is clearly readable, but with no gaps between words, and "V" replacing the "U" ---it takes a bit of fathoming out! The ending is ------- "Blessed are the dead whiche dye in the Lorde for they do rest from theyr labors."

The Lychgate of St Mary's Adderbury

The Lychgate, St Mary's Adderbury

Everything about this church was impressive -- the entrance, the porch, the exterior and interior of the church and also the tombstones. They bespoke of wealthy patronage, and, even the heavy rain couldn't dim the picturesqueness of the Lychgate.

I clicked away, with delight, and was pleased to see a pile of pamphlets and an honesty box. You can learn so much from a good pamphlet! An inscription on a chapel wall showed its antiquity as it spelt out details of an ancient family. Well worth a photograph, and the zoom, in the new camera that had been a gift from another son, really "earned its keep".

A quick shot from the porch!

Impressive tombstones at Adderbury

The tombstones invited further inspection, but alas the weather was emulating a tropical monsoonal downpour! Obviously from their grandeur they were the last resting places of considerable citizens!

I peered outside, to see that if anything the rain was worse ----- of almost monsoonal intensity! So the marvellous graveyard, with some very impressive tombstones could not be inspected. I took a quick shot of them from the porch. Adderbury had been the scene of a family wedding at the time when the PARRITTs lived at Bodicote, and regulations only allowed marriages at the parish church.

Finally, my last church --- and maybe like my son you have had enough of them!

St. James, Bulkington

St James, Bulkington

----an attractive exterior, with the daffodils in flower. I had had great hopes of this cemetery, but the drizzle worsened and I had to abort my plans. A shame really, as a lot of the Goodyers are buried there.

My brother was at work and everyone except me was laid low with a bug. What a wonderful chance to go off and potter on my own! From Bedworth I walked to Bulkington.

Much of the route hadn't changed over the years and I enjoyed my walk. Near the end of my journey I passed properties that used to belong to family members --- interesting to see what had happened in the interim.

Climbing the long slope of the railway bridge I was dismayed to feel plops of rain! By the time I reached the village and the vicinity of the church, St James, it was a heavy drizzle. I paused to take a couple of photographs of the pretty scene of square towered church with many daffodils amongst the graves. Unfortunately the interior didn't live up to the exterior --- not in my estimation, anyway, being quite unremarkable.

I found the table tomb that I was looking for, near to the porch. It was that of George Eliot's aunt and her husband, who had appeared in one of her novels. Too wet for a photograph and the search amongst the graves for associated lines to my maternal family, was off.

I crossed the road and ran to a nearby cafe. I dripped in, looking as though I had swum there! It was plain homely fare, but with poached eggs, baked beans, chips and a pot of tea I soon thawed out and began to feel human again. I enquired about the bus and found that if I "looked sharp" I would just catch the hourly one. So, I did!

It wasn't the Midland Red one that I remembered, but a small one which skipped off the road to go through a new subdivision ----- constructed since my time there. When it got over the canal bridge in Bedworth, it again left the main road and skittled and scuttled down side streets. Inward giggles threatened as we went around a little traffic island the size of a large discus! Finally I saw recognisable landmarks once more and was dropped outside the almshouses. What an adventure! The sky had cleared, the sun came out so I put my film in for 1 hour processing and shopped until it was ready.

I was foiled in achieving some things I wanted to do, but I did end up richer in so many ways ---- with some notes, photographs ---- and above all, memories.

Later, back in New Zealand in a gift shop I saw small models of cottages. Amongst them was a little square towered church with its attendant gravestones. I couldn't resist it!

And guess what Richard got for Christmas?

Contributed by Muriel Wells
Email: pollyp(@)
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