February 14 – Happy Valentines and 38th Wedding Anniversary

A few church micros around Sollers Hope, Much Marcle, Kempley and Upton Bishop

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

A lovely little St Michael’s church in Sollers Hope was along lots of little lanes – thank goodness the hedges have recently been cut so it was not too difficult to see. The really interesting thing is that this was the home and parish of Robert Whittington, brother of Dick Whittington. The church had wonderful bright tiles on the floor of the chancel and sanctuary. There were five angels as bench ends on the choir stalls. There were also some very old stone coffin lids. I collected the numbers for the geocache and we had a nice easy find with an excellent hint. A nice bridge and river.

Then we drove onto Much Marcle. On the way, we passed a cache and although we mostly only do church micros we stopped as there was a pretty house out in the country with a stream and a metal wheel in the wall which looked interesting and so was the name of the cache – One Wheel on my Wagon. As I approached the wheel I recognised a birdhouse which matched the hint – Home Tweet Home. The birdhouse had a large box and a large log book inside it. Not to mention a travel bug which had been there for 14 months which we took. We also left one of our travel bugs which in retrospect was not such a good idea as I don’t want it to be lost there for ages too. We loved this cache as so much effort had been put into it and it had a good parking spot too so we gave it a favourite point.

As we drove into Much Marcle we passed Westons cider making mill. It is a 17th-century farmhouse with a visitor centre and a restaurant. They take tours of the cider mill but as we had the dogs with us that is not something we could do today. Maybe when we don’t have them with us we will return.

We visited the Much Marcle church which was a lovely church with 6 C.E. Kempe windows and a fabulous black and gold reredos. There was a wonderful tomb for Blanche Mortimer Lady Grandison who died in 1347. It has been beautifully conserved between 2011 and 2014. Also, there was the painted effigy Walter de Helyon who died around 1350. The Kyrle Chapel which has a tomb and effigy of Sir John and Lady Kyrle (nee Sybil Scudamore) and also has many wall monuments of the Kyrle, Money and Kyrle-Money family members. There was a fragment from Ypres cathedral brought back in 1918 by a family member. The church had five green men carved around the capitals of the pillars.

I went to collect the numbers for the geocache from the plaque about the huge yew tree in the churchyard. It has supports all around it to hold it up and is completely hollow inside with a seat inside but is still alive. It is thought to have been planted in the year 500 making it 1619 years old! I could not find the cache so I left Mike and the dogs to look while I went to see the church. He found the cache eventually in a sneaky hide underneath the stile and we signed the log. It was much harder to return than it was to find as there was a click under the stile that the cache had to clip into and it was between the fence posts. We gave it a favourite point. Nearby we did two caches which were in the cage around two oak trees in the road intersection. These were planted to commemorate Queen Victoria’s silver jubilee and then also had a plaque for Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee too. They remind me of a series of geocaches named “Mighty Oaks” around the Oamaru district which were planted to commemorate men who died in WWI.

Next, we went to St Mary’s church in Kempley. Unfortunately, the church was closed until 1 March as it is an English Heritage site which is unusual for a church. However, the church sounds amazing so I am putting it on my cell phone to remind us to go back in March. We found the cache right where I said it would be in the first place.

At St Edward the Confessor church also in Kempley we made our 7000th find. Wahoo! and what better than a cache dedicated to St Edward the Confessor who played a major role in the events leading up to the Norman Conquest of 1066. The church was being cleaned when we arrived but the ladies were happy for us to come in. The church was built in the early 1900s to a design of Randall Wells in the Arts and Craft movement style as displayed in the rood beam across the church in its wonderful colours with Christ in the centre flanked by St Mary and St John. The tapestry kneelers provide a riot of colour including designs of animals, Christmas decorations, poppies and geometric designs. The wooden poles holding up the reredos curtain are ornately carved. There was a matching altar frontal to the reredos fabric. The candle holders and the lectern had mother-of-pearl inlaid in them. At the west end of the church is what the locals call the “Jam Tart” window. We collected the numbers which we might have got slightly wrong but we found the cache using the hint. We gave a favourite point for the wonderful church, our 7000th and its importance to our favourite subject – 1066.

We were going out for dinner that night so we started to head home but found ourselves going through Upton Bishop so stopped at St John the Baptist church where we made a nice easy find with a good hint. The East window dominates the church with two thin red lights to the side. It has a lovely stone reredos and a tomb recess. The church dates from the 13th century but it has been a religious site since Celtic times. The rector’s date from 1180. Then our last geocache of the day was “A Fine Pair” where the telephone box has been converted into a Book and Seed Swap. The cache was a book named a “Guide to Geocaching” which was very ingenious. We liked this one so much, it deserved our fourth favourite point of the day.

After feeding the dogs we headed to the Cottage of Content in the idyllic hamlet of Carey which is only a few minutes drive away. They served a very nice meal of a higher standard than pub food. As it was Valentines Day the tables were decorated with red sequins and there was a bag of homemade chocolates. Mike had slow cooked pork belly and I had venison and then we shared a white and milk chocolate fondue. The chef obviously cares about the quality of food as it was excellent. We had a lovely evening out to celebrate Valentines Day and our wedding anniversary.