Friday, March 14, 2008

The Regency English Village

We all love those wonderful stately homes that dot the English countryside. I simply cannot resist them. And more of them will appear on these pages. But they are always set against a backdrop of solid English Yeomanry, the archers who won Crecy, the free men and women who worked the land, and their villages. The people who supported the great landowners, just as much as they were supported by them.

I love to wander around small English villages or Welsh or Scottish ones, depending on where I am. Of course, it is easy to spot the half-timbered medieval cottages and they truly make the countryside seem steeped in history. This past winter I visited a couple of country villages and I thought I would bring you some views of them.

Stockbridge, Hampshire

In case you are wondering why I selected this particular village, my great grandmother came from here, on my mother's side of the family. This is where we held mother's eightieth birthday celebration five years ago.

This view was taken in 1890.

Interestingly enough, Stockbridge was another of those rotten boroughs. But what I really found fascinating was the way the River Test runs through the middle of the village, in a series of five streams, because the area is marshy. It runs along side the main street, where there is a duck pond, and between the houses. It seems that the village was built on top of the river as you walk around it. In fact it was. A very wide bridge, first made of withies, or bundles of sticks, and later made of chalk, perhaps by the Romans lifted the village above the marsh.


This picture was taken from the main street up the side of one of the shops.



This next one was from the back of the Three Cups Inn. Every garden had a little channel beside it. And this next one is the duck pond. It is right beside the main road.





By the late 18th century Stockbridge had become a busy market town on one of the South's main east-west roads. This would be our era. It was common to see herds of cattle, perhaps 200 - 300 in size, being driven through on their way from Wales usually to London or to victual ships in Portsmouth or Southampton. Drover's House, with its old Welsh writing on the walls saying 'Seasons Hay, Rich Grass, Good Ale, Sound Sleep',reminds us of those times.


We ate lunch in a 16th century coaching in, the same kind of inn characters in my books might have stopped at.


Well, that is one of our English villages, there are many more. Next time I will show you another of those fascinating fords. I love fords.

Until next time Happy Rambles.