Friday, 29 October 2010

Magnificent Malmesbury 1998

26 May 1998. We are staying at Wychurch Farm, Malmesbury for a few days. As noted in the previous instalment we had taken an unaccustomed early morning pre-breakfast walk down to the trout stream and worked up an appetite trying to spot kingfishers.

At the farm, the farm hands had already been working hard for a few hours when we got back hoping for some breakfast. This was taken around a large table, giving an opportunity to chat to and get to know the other guests.

Two women and a married couple were exhibiting at a weekend craft fair that sounded like a large event. One of the women's husbands was an artist and they were selling his paintings whilst he was away at yet another fair. The married couple ran a pottery and were selling tea pots and planters.

We felt deliciously lazy, having nothing to do other than to go out to enjoy ourselves and decided we would start with a look at Malmesbury itself.

The chief item of interest is the abbey. Founded in the 7th century, the present remains are of the Norman building and there is a long history of their decay and collapse following the Reformation of Henry VIII following which the abbey church was purchased for use as the parish church.

The magnificent Norman south doorway has carvings of scenes from the Bible and it is amazing that it has managed to remain in such good condition

Details of the carvings are seen in this photograph.

The village street curved off down the hill with many buildings looking likely contenders for Fran's collection of model houses. Apart from the TV aerials, modern lamppost and bollards, the yellow lines and road junction markings and the road surface itself this street must have looked this way for a long time... er yes well, there's a car parked there, but at least the buildings look old...

The pub was called the Smoking Dog and had a distinctive sign showing a painting of a pipe-smoking dog which I'm sure I've seen elsewhere. I thought perhaps it was a well-known painting but a search of the Internet turned up absolutely nothing apart from pages about the pub itself.

We walk back towards the car and are about to head for a village scene that is entirely familiar from boxes of chocolates, tea trays, postcards and jigsaw puzzles - Castle Combe.

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