Monday, 3 October 2016

Braunston Church

Braunston is a rather attractive village a couple of miles north-west of Daventry. The church of All Saints (people around here like to hedge their bets - let's go for all the saints) is situated on a high point to the edge of the village. The road approaching the village is steep, and may have given the village its name:  the Saxon word 'brant' meant 'steep', so we have a farm (tun) on a steep slope. However, it must be allowed that there are other possibilities.

All Saints Church, Braunston. 3 October, 2016
It is a fine-looking building which at first glance looks old but in fact only dates back to 1849. The architect based the design, as far as possible, on an earlier church which had become structurally unsafe and was demolished, with much of the original stone being re-used.
A large proportion of the masonry has been employed in an ashlar form, i.e. the blocks are square-cut and neatly fitted together with only a little mortar employed. The stone has quite a dark, reddish tone and was probably quarried fairly locally but I have not been able to establish its origins. It seems devoid of fossils although there is current bedding to be seen.

Ashlar masonry, Braunston church. 3 October, 2016
Last night we had a slight frost and when I arrived in mid-morning it was still rather cold even though the wind was light. This high ground must catch every passing breeze, an ideal position for the windmill, now converted to a holiday let (currently £1044 per week), standing adjacent to the church.

As the sun gained in strength the south-facing masonry began to warm up sufficiently to attract butterflies, such as this Red Admiral.
Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, Braunston.
3 October, 2016

The warmth was also appreciated by a Noon Fly, Mesembrina meridiana, which posed prettily for me. This rather large species, with the distinctive orange-tinted bases to the wings, is common at this time of the year. Its larvae live in cattle droppings.
Mesembrina meridiana on masonry at All Saints Church,
Braunston. 3 October, 2016
By and large the churchyard is well maintained; great if you are a visitor but not so good if you are a weed or an insect. Though not a weed, one plant was of interest. I spotted some 'strawberries' growing on a bank. The flowers were a buttercup-yellow and the fruit completely tasteless, with all the flavour of cotton-wool dipped in water. 

Duchesnea indica in turf at All Saints Church, Braunston.
3 October, 2016
The flowers were the give-away; it was the Indian Strawberry, Duchesnea indica, a native of south and east Asia. Our native wild strawberry is Fragaria vesca and some botanists have placed the Indian Strawberry in the same genus, referring to it as Fragaria indica. Just to complicate matters it has also been placed with the Potentillas, as Potentilla indica. Oh dear - and if that wasn't sufficiently headache-inducing, the 'berries' aren't berries at all; the true fruits (technically achenes) of all strawberries are the little pips found on the outside of the swollen, red receptacle.

The flower of Duchesnea indica, Braunston.
3 October, 2016
The flowers, this late in the year, seemed reluctant to fully open and this was the best I could find.

Well, I've had more exciting mornings, but I returned home moderately well pleased and with a bag of swag in the form of an insect miscellany to sort through.

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