Another hot, bright day dawned early, so we meandered over towards Stowe landscape gardens near Buckingham. Not so much to see the gardens themselves as a particular church in the grounds there. However, as usually happens, we were waylaid by a vague memory from long ago of a hamlet down a dirt track… and a possible old church in the middle of nowhere.
These little churches, tucked away far from the beaten track are often delightful and hold, unscathed by time, many small and simple treasures in their well-loved interiors. So we were hopeful. Parking the car we were treated to a fabulous display of sheer joyousness by a red kite, wheeling and swooping against an azure sky, seemingly just because it could.
But the church in this tiny hamlet was not quite what we expected. We stumbled across the Cathedral of the Fields. A delicate tracery of stone lines the porch, tall columns the interior and a choir of carved and painted angels still look down from their lofty perch into the chancel as they have for centuries. It was, inevitably, a while before we set off again.
The first sight of Stowe is a huge triumphal arch on top of a hill. The carriage drive runs between the piers of the arch, but we took a different route, driving round the magnificent house to reach the little church. The gardens are spectacular, filled with temples and statuary, columns and contrived vistas at every turn. It is the type of place you could wander for hours, but by this time we were hot and thirsty… and had seen a sign for a village pub that promised lunch.
Parts of the inn date back to the 16th century. The place is covered in flowers and the food superb.. though after meeting one of the residents in the doorway I felt a little guilty about the Chicken Caesar…
The village pubs hold as much history as the churches and, in some ways, have their own special place in the history of the people. Long ago it was the inns and farriers that served the highways here folk come together to share time, tales and laughter as they have always done.
We were here a while too….
Later we wandered back the long way, finding some treasures en route and a blue heron in a field.. the second in as many weeks. Not that I was quick enough this time with the camera, but it was lovely to watch.
Tonight as the heat subsides and the evening becomes pleasant, there may be a wander to the village pub here too. Why not? It seems a perfect way to end another lovely summer’s day.
HEART OF ALBION
Stuart France & Sue Vincent
Unwittingly drawn into the mysterious and magical landscape of The Initiate, Don and Wen pondered the visual language of symbols, stumbling across revelations and realisations that would alter their perception of the age-old stories they thought they knew… tales that entwine across the tapestry of time.
A hilltop steeped in tragedy, a child whose eyes see too much… a Word-Weaver’s birth into darkness… strange forms shimmering on the edge of vision. They learned to walk the Living Land, listening to the whispers of Earth memory and the ghosts of the most ancient past. And from those tales, another line of communication opens as they explore the folklore, legends and traditional tales handed down, from heart to heart, over the millennia.
As the two friends travel between the sacred sites of Albion, they discover stories that tell how the leys were made, the true origins of the hill-forts and the reason why Father Fish had breakfast in Slug Town.
Striding across this landscape of myth are the giants. From Cerne Abbas to the top of the Beanstalk, from Camelot to the Castle of Maidens, how and why is their presence stamped on the Living Lore of the land by their seven-league boots?
Join Don and Wen as the adventure continues, un-ravelling its mysteries and the magical relationship between Albion and its people.