Noticing


I mentioned in my last post that I’m a noticer of things. I just can’t help it. So whilst doing our local walks around Brackley I thought I’d share some of the features I’ve spotted or come across which have intrigued me a little. And a bit of the history behind them might help – given that my recent posting on Brackley architecture seemed to attract some nice comments. So off we go on a little Brackleycal history tour …

First up the old Bell Tower towards the top of the town which was the town’s first proper Church of England school built in 1871…

I don’t know if you can see the inscription above the top window; it says ‘Feed my Lambs’. It sounds very biblical doesn’t it? And indeed it’s taken from Jesus’ words to Peter after his resurrection. I guess its about looking after the little ones. For a faith-based educational establishment it seems like  the perfect strapline. Ideal or not the school closed eventually and the building became a hotel, a night club and a restaurant. Strange how the tagline works equally well in each setting. In the last 12 years it was converted into apartments which is how it is presented today.

Just 50 yards up the road are the Town Council Offices and I really like the Victorian cast-iron porch way around the main doorway. It’s terribly elegant and the only one remaining along a terrace of former houses. I particularly like the partially rotten sundial which you can just about make out above the doorway lintel…

Just across the road is the Master’s House, traditionally the home of the headmaster of Magdalen College School situated just lower down on the High St…

Now here’s a shocker; in 1740 the house was the scene of a notorious murder. After being dismissed from his post as a servant by the then Head, Reverend Dr Littleton Burton, Henry Kerwood hid in a barn. When discovered, the Reverend hit him with a stick but Kerwood struck back with a brutally sharp pitchfork, killing him. A reward of 10 guineas was offered for Kerwood but he was never caught.

Back across the 3-lane High St is a former hunting lodge. 150 years ago, Brackley was an important hunting centre for the local Grafton Hunt. Guests of wealthy grandees arrived from London by train and stayed here with its beautiful entranceway…

Down one place is the rather nice Brackley mews building, historically the home of Lord Grosvenor and this must have been his coat of arms…

It too later found itself being converted to a hotel but was converted to apartments in 2009.

Walking down into the town market place you come across a location which is being transformed into a burger bar – heaven only knows how may iterations it’s had over the years. But I particularly like the stone archway entrance and the striking head at the apex. I cannot find any reference to who he may be but I suspect it might be Bacchus and this property could easily have been one of the 30 hostelries along the High St…

Come on who would notice that head figure other than a nerd like me? It’s wonderful. Next door is the former home of Barclays Bank which closed around a year ago. We only have one bank in town now. Anyway the building is boarded up but rather nice I think. I especially like the honey-coloured stonework and the classical columns even more so. Can you see them? I’m sure they are Ionic columns but imagine these all cleaned up, just beautiful…

It’s possible this was another coach house but more likely another hunting lodge because two steps down you can see evidence of stables and a curved archway to the courtyard…

Now not many people know this but there’s an old 8ft high stone wall to the right of this image. An old sycamore tree has grown up alongside it necessitating  someone to recess a bit of the stone to accommodate a rather large bough jutting out. I’ve no idea when it was done but the builder stuck an owl into the wall structure just peeping out. It’s so sweet and no-one knows about it Can you see it?

There are dozens of more things I could show you but I’m happy to leave it at that for now. See how much history exists in tiny  bits of architecture.

pp

This entry was posted in PERSONAL STUFF and tagged , , by Paul. Bookmark the permalink.

About Paul

Having decided on a change of life by moving home from the UK to Italy, this is the story and thoughts of a man on a personal journey from the Blackpool Tower to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in search of la dolce vita. After several olive harvests he's now back in London but en route he shares his very personal perspectives on life.

4 thoughts on “Noticing

  1. Evening Paul, how’s this for a coincidence. Chris and myself are both members of our local U3A and receive a monthly magazine, Third Age Matters. Earlier today I was reading your interesting article on Brackley architecture and felt that I had no interesting comment to make. The next thing I did was to browse the latest magazine and lo and behold on page 20 there is an article entitled Memorial to Brackley Poet, written by a Brackley U3A member. You may know this bit of your local history so please forgive me if you do but it concerns one Mary Leapor 1722 to 1746 who died of measles and had two volumes of her poetry published after her death. Mary was from lowly stock and went into service as a kitchen maid aged 13 but managed to write her poems in what little spare time she had. Apparently she is highly acclaimed abroad especially in the USA.
    Now there are recently commissioned stained glass roundels in Brackley Town Hall and a stone memorial at St Peter’s Church dedicated to her memory.
    Maybe worth a look if you haven’t already done so.
    Sleep tight,
    John

    • Blimey J that is so spooky. I didn’t know anything about her, nor why she s so well-regarded but I’ll try and find out more the roundels and hopefully sed a pic through at some point. Take care guys
      pp

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post as it struck a chord with me ; I always pay particular notice to my surroundings and love historical buildings, often wondering who lived in this house or that and what their lives would have been like compared to mine.

    • Ah thank you L. I never know how postings will resonate of course but delighted to have found a fellow architectural nerd and history whisperer.
      Hope you’re all well
      pp

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