September 14 – A day out geocaching around Somerset/Devon

With Honey the Golden Retriever

Hi from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

We had an early start as we had to take Honey to the vet so we decided to make a day of it and go geocaching. We had a bit of a false start as we could not find the GPS. We searched high and low, returning to the house and looking again. Finally, we found it in the car with a sigh of relief we set off again.

As usual, we decided to concentrate mostly on church micros and the first we found was at St Michael and All Angel’s church in Wayford. Of note in this church were the three crusader marks on the doorway and the double piscine which is quite unusual.

We moved on to Winsham where there are four caches to find which will make a nice walk for Honey, who is not overly keen on jumping in and out of the car too often. Firstly, I made a very quick find at a Fine Pair which is when there is a telephone box and a post box beside each other. This telephone is still in working order. So many aren’t these days and with the advent of cell phones, I wonder how often they are still used. Many we have seen have defibrillators in them and some have even been converted to book exchanges. Then we went to St Stephen’s church which was a multi so Honey and I collected the numbers we needed while Mike went into the church to take some photographs. The church had a lovely wall painting on wood mounted onto the wall. It was in very good condition. It also had a nice wooden screen with two angels adorning it. The marble reredos had some gilded mosaic behind it. There was also Foxes Book of Martyrs which is a work of Protestant history and martyrology by John Foxe, first published in English in 1563 by John Day. The final took us up to the cemetery behind the church where there are some Commonwealth War Graves.

We then took a walk up behind the village but we could not find the cache hidden there. So lastly we walked to the Winsham United Reform Chapel where there was another multi. We collected the numbers and only had to walk a further 50 metres to the final which was cleverly hidden in plain sight.

As we drove through Chard to stopped at Tescos to pick up a couple of things and found an ‘Off Your Trolley’ cache which is a series hidden in supermarket car parks. We haven’t done many of these as there are usually too many muggles about but I found it quite quickly hidden in a fake outside power point box. A very clever little hide and I gave it a favourite point.

St Mary’s Parish Church in Chard was next on our agenda. Initially, we thought that the church was not open but we went to the wrong door. I collected most of the numbers until it decided to pour with rain briefly. Honey and I sheltered in the church doorway while Mike checked out the church, then we finished collecting the numbers and we went to make a very quick and clever find. When you consider how busy this piece of road is but we were safe and hidden from passing eyes. The church had stone chancel pillars and a lot of lovely stained glass window. It also had a lead lined font. We had lunch in a nearby park from our picnic basket and Honey had her lunch too. It is not raining now but a bit muddy under foot in places.

When we go looking for church micros we often meander all over the place but really we are still within about 10 km from home. At Wambrook we found another church micro. It is a little village out in the middle of nowhere with tiny roads to get to it. Here we saw a Queen Anne Coat of Arms which is only our second one out of over 700 churches. It had some nice tapestry kneelers and an old funeral stretcher on wheels. Outside there were some stocks up against the church wall.

Our next cache was one I wanted to go to just because of its name – To the Manor Born. There was a long tree-lined driveway through fields and the cache was hidden in some tree roots part way down the drive. When I saw the house I wondered if this might indeed be the house/mansion used in the TV series. On reading the information I realised that it was indeed the famed Grantleigh Manor, the ancestral home of Audrey Forbes-Hamilton and more recently Richard DeVere – at least according to the BBC between 1979 and 1981. I was so excited especially since we had happened to it by accident. It is now a hotel and leisure centre but has extensive gardens which are open to the public too. To make this even more exciting this is our 5500th geocache find, a memorable find indeed. We received a phone call here from a lady in Northleach where we are going to house sit a couple of times over the next few months.

On the way home, we stopped at Chillington, Dowlish Wake and Kingstone where we found three further church micros. The church of St Andrew dedicated by 1349 in Dowlish Wake has two fonts, one of which was crooked. Three generations of Speke men were the rectors of the church but inside tombs and monuments were all to various Speke families. The village is situated on Dowlish Brook, which is crossed by a 17th-century packhorse bridge and a road bridge dating from the 18th century.

The Church of St. John and All Saints at Kingstone dates back to 1291 but it is likely that a church stood on this site long before that.  The almost circular churchyard is thought to suggest a Celtic place of worship.  This church has been described as ‘one of the best specimens of early ecclesiastical architecture’.  The two ancient yew trees, the older of which was planted to mark the Plague grave used during the Black Death of the 14th Century. The font dates from 1154 – 1189 and is an example of between Norman and Early English architecture. The bowl is octagonal similar to the one in Wells Cathedral. The tower which houses the bells is in the centre of the church which is quite an unusual placement.