Saturday, 30 October 2010

Castle Combe

Sunday 26 May 1998. We left Malmesbury behind and soon reached our next destination - the picturesque village of Castle Combe.

They call it "the prettiest village in England" and there is some justification for the claim.

It is certainly popular with film-makers. Until recently it's biggest claim to fame was the filming of Dr Doolittle in 1966 but the view above will be instantly recogniseable to anyone who has seen the 2007 Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro film Stardust.

But of course, in 1998...we hadn't! This village features on so many chocolate boxes, jigsaws and advertisements though, that we wanted to see it for ourselves and take the same photos we had seen so many times!

The market cross dates from somewhere around the 13th/14th centuries and has this strange little structure in front of it. This is known as the Buttercross but is nothing to do with the making or sale of the yellow stuff. It was for tethering and mounting horses. You will see many old villages with a couple of steps leading nowhere and they are to get you high enough to get on a horse without having to be able to leap up to the saddle. We can't all be John Wayne!

The market cross itself provides a bit of cover for the market. The locals were weavers and wool cloth would have been the source of income to the villagers.

On the hill above is the castle that gives the village its name. It was one of the old earthwork hillforts from the Iron Age. The Romans used it to watch over the Fosse Way and the Normans built strong walls and a modern castle. All that remains again now are the earthworks.

This is the famous view that you see on chocolate boxes and biscuit tins, calendars and postcards. Normally with a bit more sunshine that I was afforded...

Not letting that put me off, I had my trusty pencil and sketch pad and spent half an hour doodling whilst Fran wandered around the few shops. This is the Town Bridge. There is another smaller bridge at the other end of the town sometimes called the Roman Bridge as the ghost of a centurion has been seen there, mainly at nioght after coming out of the pub...

The view up (or down!) river from the bridge is especially tranquil. A brown trout of quite a size was lurking amongst the weeds and rising to snap at anything that floated down the water. After a while of watching him, I realised that all I had to do was watch for something floating down and then he would pose for a photo!

1 comment:

  1. Seems every time I visit your blog I leave with a feeling... "Wish I were there". Such a great looking place and the history! Now to read the White Palace story.

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