Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Crooked spires and tepees

When Chris and I announced that we were spending a long weekend in Glossop our son-in-law Dean commented that the name sounded rather off-putting. In fact it seems to be Anglo-Saxon in origin and may originally have been Glott's Hop, with Glott being a local chieftain and 'hop' being a valley.

It is a very attractive little town where we planned to spend a couple of days visiting our old friends Sheila and Alan Conchie who were celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary but, hoping to arrive in Glossop 'bright-eyed and bushy-tailed' we decided to break our journey and have a night at Chesterfield.

Even as a child I recall reading about the curious twisted spire of the Church of St Mary and All Saints. For a long time a favourite theory regarding its odd structure was poor workmanship. This was plausible as the spire was constructed in 1362, at a time shortly after the ravages of the Black Death had led to a shortage of skilled craftsmen.

Chesterfield. The twisted spire of St Mary and All Saints seems to dominate
the town centre. 4 August, 2018
More recently an interesting alternative theory has gained favour. The spire is lined withan astonishing amount of lead - one estimate puts it at 33 tons. This is heated by the sun's rays on the southern side whilst he northern aspect remains cool. The resultant expansion and contraction has, over the centuries, led to the twist. Yer pays yer money...

We'd have been happy to spend more time looking around the interesting centre of Chesterfield - but not to spend more time at our decidedly indifferent hotel.

The next morning it was off to Glossop via the Snake Pass. The scenery is lovely and the roads were thronged with cyclists some of whom did not really have the figure for their skin-tight Lycra outfits. We completed the journey without mishaps and finding our hotel, the curiously-named Windy Harbour, without trouble.

We were alarmed on approaching our B and B to see a huge tipi erected on the adjacent land. Our worries were short-lived and we had a conventional room with, like all the other rooms, a lovely view of the surrounding hills.

Sheila and Alan were keen for us to see some examples of traditional Derbyshire well dressing and we accordingly drove to the village of Bradwell, where some recently created examples could be seen. With the displays using materials such as leaves and flower petals, each has a very finite life, particularly given the current weather conditions.. We visited three 'wells', each with a different theme.
Traditional Old English themes such as Walt Disney's Snow White were
featured. Bradwell, 6 August, 2018
They were very cleverly done and each example we saw had clearly involved a great deal of planning and effort. I could not help but admire the work, particularly as it brought together villagers and the local school in a communal effort, and it would be sad if the tradition died out.

The sites were not functioning wells but may mark places where wells once existed. I must delve a little more into the subject but I strongly suspect that the idea of revering wells and marking them with some sort of ritual may be pre-Christian.

I was not really on the lookout for things botanical or zoological but one or two things caught my eye. One patch of waste ground in Bradwell had been colonised by Chicory, Cichorium intybus. This is well established as a garden throw out and even, as at Boddington Reservoir, happily co-existing with other plants, but it is an introduction (as is horse-radish, some of which grew nearby). It is an untidy plant but there is no denying that its sky-blue flowers are very attractive.

Chicory is an archaeophyte, but well established.
Bradwell, Derbyshire. 6 August, 2018

Speaking of sky-blue, the weather was lovely throughout our stay in Glossop with some striking patterns of cirrus clouds over Bradwell.

Cirrus clouds sometimes indicate a deterioration in the weather,
but it remained fine. Bradwell, Derbyshire. 6 August, 2018
We set off home on Tuesday, making a detour to call in at Albrighton Pottery - but that's another story.

No comments:

Post a Comment