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Living with history

Discussion in 'Personal' started by lindenlea, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    We all do don't we but sometimes it just becomes more noticeable. We went out this am to try out a walk for our group and it took us past a motte and bailey castle site. It was very well preserved and just looked so ancient. It was apparently constructed for the Norman lord but was probably built on the site of an ancient holy place. We had already walked down the Oxford canal constructed in the C18th and then returned home to our lovely town with its medieval castle. Sometimes it's hard to fathom what's around us. All those lives.
  2. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I call it "seeing the landscape in four dimensions" and I love it.

    I'm spending the next two days outdoors searching for various holes in the ground that people have either used or dug in the past, and recording them. All good fun. :)
  3. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Within a 10 minute drive from us is a really lovely place where you can go for a pleasant Sunday afternoon walk with the kids and/or the dog.

    But the site contains an iron age hill fort and a massive ring ditch and also a roman road.
    primarycat and lindenlea like this.
  4. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    One of my favourite walks is 10 minutes down the road and along to the river. The first field by the river is flood plain and not cultivated, just cut for hay once a year, some of it is used for grazing. Our local village church is over 1,000 years old and visible from all along the river.

    It's a scene I imagine hasn't changed for hundreds of years, the field boundaries and hedgerows may change every few centuries or so, but maybe not even that. So when I'm down there with the dog I sometimes imagine it would be exactly the same in any century I care to name.

    About 2 miles as the crow flies on the other side of the river is a small village that was abandoned after a few hundred years in the mid 1700's (if I remember rightly) when local toll roads were changed and no-one went through it any more. There's little to see, some large stones on the ground, but enough to identify it. I think of the generations of families that must have lived there before people moved away until there was no-one left any more.

    The church has been modified over the years, I get something of a thrill (when no-one else is about) putting my hand on the part that dates back to the doomsday book and the new part added in the 1400's, imagining those who made it and how it was used in the past. It started life as a small monastery apparently.
    lindenlea, primarycat and Bedlam3 like this.
  5. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    Near where I live there is a very old graveyard you wouldn't know it was there unless you knew about it. It's mostly all overgrown with brambles and stuff but you can just get in the gate and if you have good shoes or boots on you can walk around. I find it so interesting reading the headstones. Most were young when they died and some are of a number of siblings who all died in childhood. It makes me think what it must have been like all those years ago before antibiotics. In spring there are so many bluebells and it's lovely to sit there a while although sometimes a bit spooky as some of the grave lids are broken and have slid partly off.
    primarycat and Mangleworzle like this.
  6. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    I always think Edmund Blunden’s poem “Forefathers” sums it up perfectly.

    Here they went with smock and crook,
    Toiled in the sun, lolled in the shade,
    Here they mudded out the brook
    And here their hatchet cleared the glade:
    Harvest-supper woke their wit,
    Huntsmen's moon their wooings lit.

    From this church they led their brides,
    From this church themselves were led
    Shoulder-high; on these waysides
    Sat to take their beer and bread.
    Names are gone - what men they were
    These their cottages declare.

    Names are vanished, save the few
    In the old brown Bible scrawled;
    These were men of pith and thew,
    Whom the city never called;
    Scarce could read or hold a quill,
    Built the barn, the forge, the mill.

    On the green they watched their sons
    Playing till too dark to see,
    As their fathers watched them once,
    As my father once watched me;
    While the bat and beetle flew
    On the warm air webbed with dew.

    Unrecorded, unrenowned,
    Men from whom my ways begin,
    Here I know you by your ground
    But I know you not within -
    There is silence, there survives
    Not a moment of your lives.

    Like the bee that now is blown
    Honey-heavy on my hand,
    From his toppling tansy-throne
    In the green tempestuous land -
    I'm in clover now, nor know
    Who made honey long ago
    lindenlea, Norsemaid, lanokia and 2 others like this.
  7. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    sometimes I stand still and turn to the sky and listen, and try to catch a glimpse of what future generations are going to feel towards us when we are history.

    Interest and some affection, I hope

    Anger or sympathy, I hope not.
    lindenlea likes this.
  8. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    This might be outing but here goes. The school Hall where I invigilate has an Honours board going back generations. One of the earliest is a girl who got a university scholarship in 1915. I would really like to know more about her, who she was and how it changed her life. I have Googled her name but come up with nothing. I wonder about her every time I am there.
    lindenlea and lanokia like this.
  9. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    An interesting thread, and something we can (& perhaps all should) do wherever we live*.

    Many years ago I read a book published before I was born which impressed me when I read it, and I still remember now. Many of you will probably know it, but for those who don't, can I recommend: W.G. Hoskins - 'The Making of the English Landscape'?

    *Having recently moved from a house that was over 200 years old (& listed), in an historic area to a brand new house on a new estate in a different town, I am looking forward to learning more about this area, which has significant links to WW2.
    chelsea2 and lindenlea like this.
  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Things like this are fascinating - does the school have an 'Old Girls' association, or an archive/archivist you can ask?

    I recently discovered that the (public) school attended by three of my Uncles in the 1920s (only one of whom I actually knew well) has its school magazine on line...so I was able to track their appearances in it, and learn about their sporting efforts, promotions in the Cadet force etc. I also saw the names of many other boys there, even some photos, and wondered what became of them (many probably served, and some dies, in WW2).
    lindenlea likes this.
  11. Ivartheboneless

    Ivartheboneless Star commenter

    Apart from in large Urban conurbations the landscape of Britain is covered in historical sites. Some of the best most accessible places to visit round me are actually old mine sites that have been landscaped or at least allowed to grow secondary vegetation cover. Some of these places are both tranquil and well used by visitors and it is difficult to believe that they have only gone out of industrial use in the last 75 years or so. Then of course there are the medieval castles, well known, and not so well known, and many hills have the remains of "hill forts" along them. There are remnants of human activity going back over 5000 years.
    lindenlea likes this.
  12. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    I don't know, as an invigilator I'm in and out and don't hang around. My daughter is, indeed, an 'old girl' and there is a Facebook group but I think that's all. My grandsons are there now. The oldest part of the school is over 400years old and there is a collection of papers and old photos etc. in there, it's all very interesting.
    FrankWolley likes this.
  13. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    When I moved to this area 30 years ago I could see green hills from the school playground that were in the process of being dug up with huge machinery. I asked why and was told (after they stopped laughing) that these were spoil heaps from the pits. They were being dug up to retrieve coal that had been missed and the area was eventually made into a country park which is well used. It's funny to think there are now adults who have grown up in the area who have no memory of this at all.
    Ivartheboneless and FrankWolley like this.
  14. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    We moved back to a town we lived in 40 years ago and there are bits we remember when "this was all fields!" I like that.
    FrankWolley likes this.
  15. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I was away from the UK for a year, in countries which don't have the same continuity of history in settlements and landscape as we have in the UK and the rest of Europe. In most of the countries I visited, 'history' seems to have begun with the arrival of western settlers, apart from ruined sites over a thousand years old. Doing bus tours of major cities really brought this home.

    it was during the last couple of months of my time away - of which I'd loved every minute - that I realised just how much I was missing the history which is all around us in this country, and which it's easy not to notice, because it's all pervasive. We are so lucky.

    Having said that, i do think we preserve too much. A local Methodist Church, is a Victorian monstrosity with forbidding entrance doors off the street, leading into a dark lobby with yet more doors into the sanctuary. The congregation want to redevelop that part to make it more welcoming and open (the people themselves are lovely, but for a lot of people, actually getting past the door of a church is the hardest step - and this is a particularly grim access). But they can't. The church is listed - because inside it has a very early example of concrete (I think) spiral stairs leading up to the balcony! And these stairs are by the second set of doors, thus preventing any redevelopment of this area. In this context, are old concrete spiral stairs really more important the current life & work of the church?

    Regardless of your view about churches, I think it begs a bigger question, because you hear of theatres, for example, with insufficient women's toilets, but because the building is listed little can be done about it. And the same with provision for disabled people.

    Is preserving the old - unless it truly is - nreally more important than ensuring suitability for the 21st century?
  16. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I think examples of very type/style of architecture (even the modern) does need to be preserved, even if that makes life difficult (e.g. for disabled access) but commonsense needs to be used about which buildings should be listed and what can be done to alter them.

    When I was at University I did a course on local history, and I remember the wise (& even then pretty old) historian saying 'buildings don't have a date...they have a history' as few, if any, historic buildings are now as they were originally.
  17. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Whoops - meant to say here 'unless it truly is unique'.
  18. nizebaby

    nizebaby Star commenter

    The other day, my brother (who's been researching our family history) decided to take us on a tour of six midland graveyards in order to see the graves of people we've never known. It was freezing cold. You've got to laugh.

    Still, it all became worthwhile when we ended up at the cemetery in Hockley, Birmingham, where my grandfather was buried in 1917. Quite a posh grave, as it happens.

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