Monday, 15 August 2016

Day 3 - Hobnobing with the Churchills

Day 3 and feet still attached! Day was supposed to be shorter, only 14 miles from Chippy to Woodstock...

Began the day having a quick coffee on a bench outside the Chippy Town Hall...funny to see this town in the summer, I've only ever been here during the winter for two pantos!

Apologies for this morning's eagle radio update. They apparently had a glitch their end, but I will be on air tomorrow!

This was my path for a lot of the morning - helpful in shorts!

This morning I set off heading first of all for Church Enstone arriving there at about midday. On the way I passed the remains of a medieval village - Nether Chalford... It was first recorded in 1086, there is a record of its Chruch in 1412, but then in 1470 they were given to Oriel Cottage, College who cleared them for profitable grazing land. In 1510 Thomas Haybrook acquired permission to enclose and 1524 the village had been abandoned. This happened to so many smaller villages and hamlets...enclosure was much feared amongst the common people, and even Shakespeare ended up being dragged in debacle of land he owned in Stratford.

All of yesterday and much of today you could see the ancient furrowed land that is still marked in the feudal strips that families would farm.

See the Welcombe Enclosures if you want to know more.

A lot of the paths today were grassy fields of trackways - hurrah, no corn fields! My socks were getting full of bits of straw and kernels! Definitely not a fan of walking through corn fields. Walk pet-peeve. A couple of tracks and lanes I walked on would have formed the old London Road from Stratford before the new turnpike road was built after Will, so it is quite possible that he did travel down these very lanes as me today...and some of them have changed condition in 400 years!

"Villainous and boggy" William Harrison called them in 1577, and some were certainly villainous. Roads in Will's day were not great. Only 4 great Roman roads survived, so all routes were via ancient trackways, paths and lanes. I rather like the fact that my route, though probably more windy than Will's it not too disimilar in surface quality. In summer they are hard-backed ruts and very stony.

More than likely Will would have hitched a ride on a wagon for a few pence to begin with and then
later a horse as his fortunes grew. Travel was expensive, two and half pence per mile for a horse, double if you needed a guide! Travel was not cheap...anyway more about that tomorrow.

Church Enstone had a beautiful church, dedicated to St Kenelm, who is mentioned in Chaucer's Nuns Priest Tale...the one with cockerel that sounds like Barry White (you remember), with a Norman entrance.

By lunchtime I was being given a private tour of Ditchley Manor...yes my kind land lady from Chippy, Jeanette, is the Domestic Bursar there and so gave me a quick 30 mins private tour! Such a generous lady, she remembered me from playing Buttons in the Chippy panto 2012/13.

Originally the property of 2nd Earl of Lichfield, the current house was designed by James Gibbs who was responsible for St Martins in the Field Church in London. In 1933 it was bought by Ronald Tree MP whose wife Nancy Lancaster, a society belle, redecorated it with Sibyl Colefax, the interior designer. It was a party house in the 30s and the Churchills used as a retreat during the war, some 16 times as it was safer than nearby Blenheim. Jeanette showed Churchill's study and bedroom. The bathroom, rather sweetly I think, was shared with his wife Clemmie with adjoining doors. For our period there were some very impressive antlers on the wall, whose deer's head has been preserved, and underneath each of them a small poem describing the manner in which they had been hunted and killed. Each one dating from hunts in 1608 and 1610, and each one killed by the King himself.

Leaving Ditchely it was on to Blenheim...4 miles away, thought it seemed much longer. As I crossed the boundary wall of Blenheim Park I was greeted with a huge cheer, and cries of battle....or so I thought...but as I got closer what I thought was going to be some kind of joust or re-enactment, I
discovered the noise was actually sheep awaiting their summer shearing! Wow what a noise!!!

I reached the famous Victory Column overlooking Blenheim which for me marked mile 46... Just another 100 to go.

Finally I arrived the pretty town of Woodstock where my mum and dad were waiting to meet me to take me for dinner. What a treat.

...and talking of treats...near disaster yesterday turned to delight today. My B&B let me down last thing yesterday evening, but the incredibly kind Feathers Hotel came to my rescue! So now I am off to a luxurious bath and a Gin and Tonic...they have 400 different ones behind the bar! And yes, Silent Pool is there!

Once again thank you for all the tweets and Facebook messages and emails of support. It's really lovely to hear from you all.

I have decided by the way for ease, that I will re edit all these blogs with photos upon my return....I am also posting daily videos on Facebook and Twitter

Today's stats:

17.84 miles | 5 hrs 44 mins | 1400 calories| 39,200 steps.

Total walked so far 52.4 miles

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