Friday, 2 September 2011

A TRIP TO WENDOVER

Yesterday I went to Stoke Mandeville hospital for an echocardiogram, results in two weeks, but as it was such a sunny day I stirred my stumps and took myself to Wendover in the afternoon. Because I won't pay parking charges in a small, cramped car park, or any other if I can help it, I was a little way out of the town in a side road. I took my push-along shopping trolley as it was market day and my camera and set off. I'll post the photos as I took them, I think.
Wendover is a pretty, mostly unspoiled town, especially if you like old houses, but if HS2 goes ahead this peace will go for ever - appreciate it while you can!

The first house I photo'd was this pretty header-and-stretcher house which stands in a long row of good quality houses. The header bricks are the black ones which are burned against the side of the kiln and used to make patterns as the bricks are laid. I crossed the road and came across this house plaque. It gives you the date of the house though it's not easy to tell as they have been fronted with bricks but the backs of houses always give the game away.I saw this - isn't it called a footscraper? I just can't remember. A relic of the days when roads and pavements weren't paved or in the 20th century market towns were littered withhorse manure, cow and sheep mess as the animals were driven through the town. Doorsteps are well above road level for the same reason - keeping your house clean.

At the junction of the road to Halton and Tring and the main street through Wendover is this Victorian clock tower. The lower part was built in 1842 as a small market hall, says the book I'm using to get information - 'Wendover' by Elizabeth Cull. It's also been the information centre for the town. Just to the right and out of shot is the Victorian school, superseded by the John Colet school in the 1970s.This strange lump of stone - I had it explained to me by a passerby about 10 years ago, which means I've completely forgotten what I was told. I wonder if it's one of those oddments brought down during the ice age and so completely out of character with local geology? It's very weathered and has a shine on it from the hundreds of feet which must have stepped on it over the many decades.It's on the corner of Back Street, which is exactly what it is now, though was originally the main street of Wendover. It's a one way street, as you can imagine. The house on the corner is the gallery of Aces High which you sometimes hear mentioned on TV as being a place to see excellent paintings of aircraft.This is Back Street looking down towards the clock tower. The building on the corner was (I hope) the farmhouse to Vine Tree Farm many years ago. I didn't have pencil or notebook with me...You can see it's an original timber-framed house with brick infilling and originally it was a farm of 70 acres though no trace of the farmland remains, it's all built over. There's a market on Thursdays held on the Manor Waste, which is part of the Icknield Way. The Waste was originally a grass plot then a garden was made here; in 1976 it was given to the people of Wendover, the council decided to pave over the area and the market was revived. The plaques at the base of the memorial on each side give the names of the men killed in two World Wars.Some of the stalls had already packed up by the time I got there but the cheese stall was still there, as you can see. I have an idea Bernard likes cheese...?Looking down the main street nowadays with the Stop HS2 sign just in view on the left hand side. The library is up the turning by the white building so I couldn't resist going in to get a couple of books. (Crickey! the librarians were noisy! Can you remember the days when you daren't sneeze or you'd be made very certain that it wasn't allowed. Nowadays children run about, making a racket. Grrr!) I've got this scene taken in Victorian times - somewhere in one of my books. Can I find it? Of course not!
The Red Lion is the big pub in Wendover. Robert Louis Stevenson stayed here - and so did Cromwell, though Queen Elizabeth 1 isn't mentioned...I thought she'd slept everywhere! The archway in the centre of the photo is the coach entry to the yard at the back.These yard entrances, either for carters bringing goods to shops or for the family's gig or trap are by several of the properties.This must be a working entrance while this one below - is probably the family's vehicle entrance. The house is one of the row of very nice houses which includes the header-and-stretcher house. They all lie behind a wide grass area with old trees shading that side of the road.This last house is the only coloured house - a pale apricot colour.It was the Old Manor Farmhouse, built in the 16/17th century. At the side of the house you can still see the flint infill.I had meant to go to look at the windmill, the end of the Canal and then drive up to the church but I was too tired to venture further and getting dehydrated and hungry, too, so decided to call it a day and go home.
There's lots to see in Wendover - and Halton is just along the road though the Hospital has gone, now an estate, though there's still an RAF presence. Halton House, a Rothschild house, is open one day a year, otherwise it's the Officers' Mess. It's often seen in costume dramas which need a grand staircase....

I'm fed up with trying to eliminate the big gap at the top so - I'll leave it for now and perhaps try yet again later.....

3 comments:

marigold jam said...

Looks an interesting place Sylve. Hope the results of your test come back reassuring.

Kath said...

Lovely to see my old haunts and learn some history!

Sylve said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies. Now to read your latest posts!