'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menoffagainorrhoea; Away From The Hutch

Picking up on the short trip South, Tuesday was done, Wednesday dawned. Brekky at eight and out the door by nine. We had a plan. There is really so much to explore in the Cumbria and Solway region that we had to be focused; and the focus we gave ourselves was a circular route taking in several churches of varying age, but with the common threads of recycling of Hadrian's wall stones and connections to the last year of Edward 1's rule. Some played very significant roles during the border raids both to and from Scotland, and also the attempts of Prince Charlie (the Bonnie One) to reclaim rights over the land.

Oh the history. I'll leave you to follow your noses on most of it. Our day was lengthy and much was seen, so am breaking into two posts - morning and afternoon.

Driving out of Carlisle (Aitch at wheel, me on navigation) proved to be not quite as straightforward as my perusal of the map had suggested; turns out Google does not clearly mark dead ends. Then there are bits which might be confused as dead ends but are actually through roads... sigh... it didn't cost us more than ten minutes of delay and, on the bright side, we spotted a couple of things of interest to be investigated later.

Once on the trail proper, we quickly found ourselves in rural parts and it was not at all far to the first stop. All the villages were of the picture postcard variety, with old signposts and lanes galore. Beaumont was our initial contact with the Solway churches;

Should probably point out what may be obvious - these posts are going to be heavy on the images of religious buildings! Aitch being a churchwarden, is interested in looking at the notice boards, and as an archivist is keen on the record books and info; she's a great foil for me, who looks at the architecture and spends time at the altars. Between us we are good at garnering knowledge of places visited, being reminded of history learned, or amazed at what we've forgotten - and also learning new stuff.

St Mary's was strikingly simple, elegant and restful. Whilst it was invaders (Roman) who first hewed the rocks for a wall, it was also invaders (Norman) who built these places of refuge. It stands directly over remains of the wall. The name Beaumont means, quite literally, 'beautiful hill' and we were agreed that it lived up to this name.

Next on the list was Burgh-by-Sands; here, Edward 1 died. He was laid in state within St Michael's church for some time after. This was definitely the most 'fiercely' Norman of the buildings we saw and was clearly fortified. When we arrived, there was a service under way so we withdrew and wandered along the main street to see the recent sculptural installation of the ancient king. By the time we returned, the service had finished, but now there was a poetry group getting set up! An active and welcoming community. We were delighted to encounter one of the ladies within the main tower who gave us a potted history of the building and how it did, indeed, double up as a mini-fortress when those fearsome folks from over the border came raiding! There was even room for the livestock of the settlement. Sadly, many of the images made in the tower did not prove to be usable - (no flash on Fudge meant delayed imaging and lots of blurring) - but trust me, it was very interesting indeed. Had our time not been so tight, we would have loved to have taken up the invite to join the group... warmth and Love radiated.

As we left B-b-S, the drive took us into the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along the Solway firth. Weather and time meant not really stopping, but did manage this panoramic... (click to biggfy - and over the other side of the water is Scotland.)

We also happened upon Drumburgh Castle as we drove over a rise in the land.

"Tower House, now farmhouse. C13, licence to crenellate granted to Robert le Brun 24 August 1307. Alterations originally dated 1518 with initials and coat of arms of Thomas Lord Dacre over entrance; further alterations between 1678 and 1681 for John Aglionby and C19 additions. Extremely thick walls of squared and coursed red sandstone (from the nearby Roman Wall) on chamfered plinth, parapet over entrance with carved stone eagle finials; steeply pitched graduated greenslate roof with coped gables, brick chimney stacks."

That info is from Historic England site. You can read a lot more at that link if it interests... page down a ways though.

Next stop, Bowness-on-Solway for another St Michael's church. This place was extensively restored in the nineteenth century, but still contains many stones from the Roman period. The most notable part of this visit for me was the hand stitched kneelers; every one was individual, created by members of the church and each sponsored by others; labels were there to mark their provenance. It was a stunning sight.

The flooring was pretty impressive too.

We had a good look round the yard too; there was a smuggler's grave to see (well, a slate headstone with the name of a non-local, which is stated to be such!), an ancient sundial (well, a stone pillar fallen to 45' angle and brass dial upon it) and a hearse house - which turned out to be down the lane actually. Additionally, there was a stone coffin, age indeterminate, but rescued from use as a trough at a local farm. Am keeping that image for the Skeerython (that's a subtle reminder  *ahem*).

By now, we were getting ready for some lunch. We had been advised of there being a nice tearoom nearby - and indeed it was, both nice and nearby. It was in the old rectory. A B&B, with a tearoom as a sideline. We met Dodger - who wasn't at all sure about Jess - and ate very well indeed. Thus ended the morning part of the day.


  1. Oh YAM Aunty what an absolutely beautiful post. I felt like I was right there with you in Ren. The kneelers are exquisite, that is needlepoint right. I cannot imagine all the hours involved in each handmade with love piece. MOLMOL Dodger's expression was hilarious and Jess cool as a cucumber. Your lunch made our mouths water.
    Hugs madi and HiC

  2. Wow! What amazing photos! We would love exploring all these places. Europe is such a fun place to explore with all the rich history and tradition (unlike here where everything is relatively new). And those kneelers are quite beautiful!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  3. Hello, lovely images and churches. The kitties are cute too. Your lunch does look yummy! Have a happy week!

  4. Lovely old churches !
    I like that pic of the cat staring quizzically :)

  5. Since I'm on the West Coast of United States there not many churches by grave yards.
    Coffee is on

  6. Oh I would love to discover all this beautiful places with you... it's amazing what impressing churches and manors our ancestors could built... and oh how I wish this old stones could talk...

  7. Thank you for sharing your travels. I love seeing all the places you visit.

  8. The craftsmanship of the kneelers is beautiful. Beautiful little churches. And I want to taste the goodies. namaste, janice xx

  9. I always enjoy tagging along with you and seeing all the historical beauty you show us!

  10. Only just catching up with your blogs tonight. Interesting about the castle, glad we stopped. It was a lovely couple of days an am enjoying reliving it again. Hilary xx


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