Monday 30 October 2023

Priories (9) : Lesnes

The former Lesnes Abbey is in the appropriately named Abbey Wood in Bexley, south east London. The abbey was founded in 1178 dedicated to St Mary and St Thomas the Martyr. The abbey was founded by Richard de Luci, Chief Justicar of England under King Henry II. It is thought founding the abbey may have been de Luci's penance for his role in the events which led up to the murder of Thomas Becket.

The abbey was involved in the draining of local marshland but the cost of this contributed to the abbey's unstable financial position. It was one of the first monasteries to be closed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1534. Nearly all of the abbey's buildings were demolished, the area becoming farmland. In the early 1900s the site was excavated by archaeologists, remains of the walls of the abbey's buildings can give an idea of the size and layout of the religious house.

Sunday 29 October 2023


Yesterday i headed to Pinvin which is a village near to Pershore, in fact Pershore railway station is quite a lot closer to the village than Pershore itself! A nicely rural setting, three small deer were in the far corner of the churchyard when i entered it, unfortunately they scarpered before i could get a photograph of them., However, you can see the photos i did take here.

Friday 27 October 2023

Churches (203) : St John the Baptist, Stokesay

The parish church of St John the Baptist in Stokesay, Shropshire is adjacent to Stokesay castle. Due to this it is likely the church, which dates from 1150CE, began life as a chapel to the castle and was expanded later on. The church was badly damaged in the Civil War as Royalist forces had been at the castle. After the war the church was rebuilt in 1654 by the Puritans during the Commonwealth.

The church retains some Norman features especially on the lower parts of the church. The church has a west tower, a nave and a chancel (which was built in 1664). The church is built out of sandstone rubble.

Thursday 26 October 2023

New tripod old typewriter

I have just bought a new (and much better) tripod for my iPhone, mostly for taking typing videos. The first one being this one.

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Coventry Transport Museum

On Saturday i headed up to Coventry and visited the superb transport museum there. I have been before (about nine years ago) and since then it looks like it has had a good revamp and is one of the best museums i have ever been to. Some great cars on display for sure. You can see my photos here.

Monday 23 October 2023

Priories (8) : Pershore

Pershore abbey may have been founded in 689 though this cannot be reliably confirmed, a fire that destroyed the monastry's archives in 1002 not helping matters! Pershore was a Saxon religious house with the patronage of the Mercian kings though most details of the abbey's early existence are either lost or cannot be reliably confirmed. In the late 10th century the abbey was reestablished as Benedictine. However, this did not stop it going into a decline with the abbey losing some of it's lands as it fell foul of late Saxon politics. The abbey was destroyed by fire in 1002 (which is when the archives were lost).

The abbey recovered however and by 1020 it was active again. The main abbey building dates from about 1100. The abbey was dissolved in 1539 and the abbey partially demolished. The tower, choir and south transept survived and remains the parish church of the Holy Cross to this day. 

Friday 20 October 2023

Churches (202) : St Mary, Newtown / Y Drenewydd

The church of St Mary is a former Anglican church in Newtown in Powys. The church was built along with the town itself in the late 13th century which was built by Roger de Mortimer on land granted to him by King Edward I of England following the defeat of Llewelyn the Last. The church was built on the site of an existing chapel next to the river Severn. The church had a double nave and was made from rubble with a red sandstone dressing. The west tower has a wooden bell stage.

The church was abandoned in 1856 following decades of problem caused by flooding due to the proximity of the river. Although much of the church is now in ruins the 13th century bell tower was restored in 1939. At the church is the grave of Robert Owen the founder of the cooperative movement.

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Kirkby et cetera

On Monday, for the final part of my long birthday weekend, i headed up to Liverpool. I went to Kirkby to be exact to see Headbolt Lane, which is currently (at time of writing) the newest railway station on the network. I also had a look around Kirkby and did some travelling on the new Merseyrail Class 777s. You can see my photos here.

Monday 16 October 2023

Priories (7) : Sandwell

A Benedictine priory at Sandwell, in what is now the West Midlands, was founded in the 12th century by William, son of Guy de Offendi. The priory was built next to the well which gives Sandwell it's name. A house of monks was set up dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. A hermitage is thought to have occupied the site before the priory was built.

The priory was not well run and was beset by mismanagement though obtained land and buildings as far afield as Shropshire and Buckinghamshire. The priory was dissolved on the order of Cardinal Wolsey in 1625, years before the Dissolution of the Monastries under King Henry VIII. Only the base remains of the priory buildings' walls now remain.

Saturday 14 October 2023

Derby deliveries

It has been a while since i did a pure train related trip, i went up to Derby yesterday hoping to catch a new built train leaving the factory next to the station and heading off to be deliveried to it's new owner. I didn't see one... i saw two! You can see my photos here.

Friday 13 October 2023

Churches (201) : St Nicolas, Kings Norton

The parish church of St Nicolas in Kings Norton is one of a small number of medieval churches now in the Birmingham area (until 1911 Kings Norton was in Worcestershire and separate from Birmingham). 

The church has Norman origins and was built on the site of an earlier church in the 13th century. This building was largely demolished in the following century when a new nave with two aisles was built. The spire was added in the mid 15th century. The south aisle was rebuilt in the 17th century and the roof considerably altered. The church was restored in the 19th century.

The Reverand Awdry, who later wrote the Thomas the Tank stories, was curate of the church during the Second World War.

Thursday 12 October 2023

Calculators and typewriters

As its my birthday soon i had some money to spend and naturally the best thing to spend the money on is... obsolete office technology! I bought two typewriters including my first Olivetti and a job lot of sixteen old calculators!

Tuesday 10 October 2023


There are a number of Actons around, most notably in west London. However, on Saturday i went to the small village of Acton in Cheshire which is a short canal towpath walk from Nantwich. The village has a nice church though unfortunately no railway station as it would have been amusing to have yet another Acton station! You can see my photos here.

Monday 9 October 2023

Priories (6) : Leominster

A monastery was established in Leominster perhaps as early as the seventh century. This monastery later became a nunnery but collapsed after the kidnap of the abbess Eadgifu by the Danes in 1046. In the 12th century Reading Abbey established a Benedictine priory in Leominster. The priory was quite possibly built on top of the earlier Saxon religious sites.

The priory was destroyed in 1539 when most of the monastic buildings including part of the priory church were lost. Most of the church survived and continues to serve as a parish church to this day.

Sunday 8 October 2023

Model week : End of the HOe affair

There haven't been many model railway updates lately, because nothing has happened! Today i packed up my HOe fleet and put them away in storage. When they will return is unknown. But will an N gauge layout replace it? At the moment i am unsure, i feel little enthusiasm at the moment and am lacking energy. Maybe when i have a new board things will click, let's see.

Saturday 7 October 2023

Shropshire Union Canal

Today i headed up to Cheshire, Nantwich in fact, to explore some more of the Shropshire Union Canal which i visited when i came to Nantwich the first time last year. However, today i went along the canal in the other direction and took in many boats as this direction included the marina! You can see my photos here.

Friday 6 October 2023

Churches (200) : St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield

The church of St Mary & All Saints in Chesterfield, Derbyshire is one of the most distinctive churches in the country due to it's distorted spire, of which more later. The church dates from 1234CE and was built on the site of earlier churches dating back to Saxon times. The church has a cruciform plan with a nave, aisles and north and south transepts. The chancel is surrounded by four guild chapels. The church was rebuilt in the 1700s in a Neo-Gothic style. 

The spire dates from 1362 and has a distinctive twist (45 degrees) and lean nearly 3m from the centre). Quite why this has happened is not fully known but may be due to the poor initial build and the addition of heavy lead sheeting in the 17th century on an interior not designed for the weight. Though there are other theories for the spire, including it being the work of the Devil!

The spire has become a symbol of the town and even given the local football team it's nickname the Spirelites!

Thursday 5 October 2023

Barrel roofed cottages of the Stratford Canal

Unique to the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal in Warwickshire are a number of barrel roofed cottages [1]. These were built for the lock keepers or lengthsmen of the canal in the early 19th century.

While the Stratford Canal was under construction in the late 18th century (work began in 1793) the British economy was running into trouble due to the financial and resource pressures of the Napoleonic War because of this work on the canal was suspended for a number of years before resuming in about 1809 [2].

Land owner William James helped save the canal project and came up with a number of ways to save costs in order to help complete the Southern section of the canal and to reach Stratford-upon-Avon. One of the ways to save money was these lock keepers cottages. They were simply built single storey rectangular buildings with the "barrel" roof made from a series of arches more akin to a bridge than a house. Six were built on the stretch of the canal between Lapworth and Yarningale Common.

Lowsonford Lock 31 cottage

Bucket Lock Cottage near Yarningale Aqueduct

Another view of Bucket Lock Cottage

Barrel roof cottage at Kingswood

[1] Ray Shill, West Midland Canals Through Time: Severn, Avon & Birmingham (Amberley, 2012) 

[2] J.R Ward, The Finance of Canal Building in Eighteenth-Century England (Oxford University Press, 1974) p. 49