March 8 – A afternoon with Janet and Neil

Followed by some geocaching around the Bealings

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

A few days ago I rang my aunty Janet who said that she and Neil were visiting Woodbridge for a few days. Neil went to school there and had never been back. We arranged to meet for lunch at “Honey and Harvey” in Melton. When we arrived at Melton there was no sign of them despite having had a phone call to say they were holding a table. I realised straight away that they had gone to the “Honey and Harvey” in Woodbridge so we headed down there and were a few minutes late by the time we arrived. We haven’t been in this cafe before and it is quite different but the food is just as good. We ordered quiche and coffee and chatted contently over lunch about their recent visit to Australia and New Zealand to see my cousins, my Mum and sister.

After lunch, it was raining a bit so we decided to go to Seckford Hall where they were staying. We got there first as they took the wrong turning and ended up going to the Woods St exit to A12 which has been closed since January so they went the long way around.

Seckford Hall is a magnificent Tudor building and steeped in history. The land was mentioned in The Domesday Book and in 1185 there is the first mention of a manor called Seckforth. The name comes from sedge ford which means a ford through an area of rushes. There is evidence which dates the original house back to as early as 1489. Construction of the present hall began in 1530 but was not completed until between 1541 and 1550. Thomas Seckford, who was born in 1515 became one of two “Masters of the Ordinary of the Court of Requests” and it was his duty to accompany Queen Elizabeth I on her travels. She apparently stayed in Seckford Hall and the four poster bed which she slept in is still in the house. The hall was in a bad state by 1939 but was saved from demolition and in 1951 it was purchased by the Bunn family who converted it to a country hotel and restaurant. It is also believed that one of the armchairs in the Great Hall is the very one in which King Edward VII died.

We had Devonshire tea in the lounge which was lined with wonderful wooden panelling and paintings. The scones were delicious, fresh from the oven and served with strawberry jam and clotted cream. After afternoon tea we decided to take an hour-long walk around the estate. We thought it was around the gardens but in actual fact, it took us along country paths and roads. We did manage to find one geocache along the way so Janet got to find her first geocache. We took one wrong turn and walked along a new roadway that is still under development. There was no one working there but suddenly it just stopped and we had to make our way down the hill to rejoin the path we should have been on in the first place. A little adventure! We did finally walk through the garden which was in its early spring colours with lots of snowdrops flowering and daffodils about to start flowering.

After we left them to have a rest we thought we would go and find a few church micros nearby. Firstly we went to All Saints church in Little Bealings. It was a very light and airy church with a great stained glass window by A.L. Moore and a 700-year commemorative tapestry and a 700-year applique made in 1996. The lectern and the pulpit had matching purple applique covers. The rector’s date from 1296 with Giles Dodingesles. As the geocache was a multi, it took us a while to find one of the benches for the numbers we needed to collect but we got there eventually. We walked to the cache and were surprised when we saw the size of the cache. It was full of cool stuff for children, a pity we didn’t have any with us.

Next, we went to St Mary’s in Playford. This church took a bit of getting to with all the diversions in place. Luckily you can see the church to use as a marker. The church has a great monumental brass of Sir George Felbrigge in full armour who died in 1400, which has been moved from the ground to the wall. There were some monuments to Clarkson family members and also one to Sir George Biddell Airy KCB – Astronomer Royal born 1801 and died 1892. In 1851 Airy established a new Prime Meridian at Greenwich which became internationally recognised in 1884 as Greenwich Mean Time. Outside the church is a monument to the memory of Thomas Clarkson (1760 – 1846), a friend of slaves. He was instrumental, along with William Wilberforce, in getting slavery abolished in the early 19th century.  Once we had collected the numbers I walked to the cache while Mike got the car. It was a quick find but getting the doors open took a while. The container was a church made out of red lego which was very clever. We awarded the geocache a favourite point both for the church and the container.

The last visit of the day was Great Bealings which in the Domesday Book was called Bealings Magna but the church was closed and the cache was quickly found