----- Eleven members of the group (see photos) met at St Mary’s church, Bridgwater, where we were given a guided tour by Kelvin, the verger.
It was originally a late Norman building, although structurally only Gothic architecture from C13th through to 15th is now visible. The church was heavily restored in Victorian times and a modern restoration was only completed in 2017.
A series of fine wooden bosses can be seen in the chancel vault (see image) and the high altar area has some interesting furnishings (see images). Behind a screen on the north aisle is the Corporation Pew (see images), where seats for members of the Town Council were provided.
We made the climb up the 97 steps to the tower roof, from which the site of the Battle of Sedgemoor (1685) can easily be seen. St Mary’s had a role in the battle: from its tower the Duke of Monmouth watched King James’army being assembled.
After our tour, the church very kindly provided us with tea & coffee.
The group moved on to the Walled Gardens of Cannington, where, after a light lunch, we toured the Garden, which are set adjacent to a C14th convent, a church of similar date and a Tudor hall.
Thanks to Geoff Mangan for the photos.
----- Visit to Cotehele, Cornwall, on July 30th: The forecast was diabolical and the torrential rain en route made this seem a real ‘mission impossible’. However, almost as soon as the 16 members of the group reached Cornwall, things began to improve and an hour into our visit, the sun actually came out.
Most of us received the introductory ‘spiel ‘in the Great Hall from an experienced steward; then we made our way around this most magnificent of early Tudor mansions room by room.
After lunch together in the Barn restaurant, many of us went down the steep route to Cotehele Quay, the manor’s port on the River Tamar (where some of us indulged in an ice-cream). Eight of us made our way back to the house via the Chapel in the Woods, a small C15th structure on the river bank, then up a very deep valley, passing an early dovecote before reaching the delightful terrace in front of the house.
Some of our number made their way towards Plymouth to have a look at St German’s Priory before making their way home.
Visit to three Devon longhouses at Lettaford on the eastern edge of Dartmoor, followed by Grimspound, the well-preserved remains of a Bronze Age village. Lunch at the Rugglestone Inn at Widecombe-in-the-Moor before a visit to the "cathedral of the moor", Widecombe church, in the afternoon.
Seventeen group members met at Axmouth church where we had a welcoming coffee and biscuits before looking around the church that has elements of four architectural styles together with three very interesting wall paintings.
From here we made our way to Seaton where we boarded the tramway to go Colyton and back. This was very pleasant as the weather was fairly warm and sunny so we were able to travel on the top deck on the outward journey.
We then made our way along winding country roads to Branscombe, where we had an excellent lunch in the Fountainhead Inn. Parking here was not an easy matter, some of us were involved in negotiating our cars past both buses and lorries, making life pretty interesting!
The afternoon was spent looking at the church of St Winifred. Dating from Norman times, but with a lot of Saxon stonework in its walls, the church has many fascinating features including a magnificent trlple-decker pulpit.
Just eight members of our group visited Great Moor House to be given a guided tour of the centre which is an amalgamation of the Devon Record Office with the old West Country Studies Library.
Our guide was Brian Carpenter. Meeting up in the café he showed us round to a room where he had left a series of Crediton-related documents from the C16th to the C19th. They included church records, records of apprenticeships created and prints of Holy Cross church. We had a good look through these and it was interesting to see familiar names among the many listed, Buller, Tuckfields and Quickes among them.
We moved on to a storage room for big maps and plans, from there to a drying-out room where damp and damaged documents can be reconstituted. We had a look at other storage rooms for various legal and other official documents. Finally we went to a brightly-lit room where documents are made ready for public display. An assistant was preparing insect-catching devices to put around the centre and a volunteer was trimming old photos.
Our excellent tour lasted over 2 hours and was well worth the fee.
Report on the "green man" tour of Exeter Cathedral
There are more green men in Exeter Cathedral than any other church in England – there are up to 60 bosses, corbels, misericords and parts of memorials and other artefacts representing (possibly) green men.
It wasn't a very good day to go anywhere so a number of people cried off and it was sleeting quite heavily as half-a-dozen of us gathered at the bus stop to venture into Exeter.
Arriving at the cathedral, we looked at the green men in a fairly systematic way, starting in the Lady Chapel and working west. Most of us had taken binoculars as a number of features are in the high vault.
We saw all those features that have definitely been identified as green men. Some of the early ones, dating from before 1300, are quite magnificently carved. With some below effigies of the Virgin and some immediately above the High Altar, the symbol must have meant something quite profound to the medieval Christian. There are twice as many green men in Exeter Cathedral as there are effigies of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and God the Father combined.
After finishing at the West Front, we adjourned to the cathedral café, where we had a snack lunch, pausing between mouthfuls to look at more green men bosses in the building’s ceiling.