Continuing on my journey – following the Meridian (or as near as – as the mood takes me) – we wandered over towards Tetford. We parked up, after noticing a disused chalk quarry with lots of signs warning us of the dangers therein, so of course we had to take a quick look. I hasten to add at this point, that we didn’t actually trespass, or climb over the wire – but there were photographs that we could take from the roadside. I didn’t much fancy falling over the cliff edge.
The site must have been a very busy one in the past, and we could still see the weigh station scales by only scrambling up the grassy bank.
I did a bit of a seach about this site, but could only discover that it was still in operation in 1970, but not when it closed. It was worked by Singleton Birch Ltd for the cretaceous Chalk to be used for industrial chalk and lime.
So, with the weather looking like it might get better – we pressed on towards Sumersby – the birthplace of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
The whole area round Somersby is quintessentially English. The sort of place the J R R Tolkien would have felt at home in – and with village names like Bag Enderby – even more so. I think that Bilbo Baggins should have set up home here.
There has been a church at Somersby since the 1200’s, and this one is built of local Splilsby Sandstone. Alfred Lord Tennyson was born – and spent the first 28 years of his life here in Somersby. His father George Clayton Tennyson was rector of St. Margaret’s, Somersby and of its namesake in the neighbouring village of Bag Enderby for 23 years until his death. Pictures of that later.
Inside the church belfry was discovered graffiti which simply says ‘AT 1837’. Was this Alfred signing off? The family left that year and he never returned.
The statue of Tennyson is to the West end of the Church, and I was able to capture this silhouette as the light came through the window.
St Margaret’s sister church and namesake in nearby Bag Enderby, is also of greenstone and has several interesting features such as segmental window arches of note and a perpendicular octagonal font. Alfred Tennyson’s father was rector of both churches and would walk between the two, and deliver long and impenetrable sermons at both.
Tennyson himself spent many years wandering through this idyllic landscape composing his poetry as he went.
On the way home we decided to visit Ashby Puerorum – the name caught my eye on the map, and it’s not far off the Meridian Line, so although the light was fading, and it looked like rain – we went for a look……
Ashby Puerorum owes its unusual name to a 13th-century Bishop of Lincoln, Oliver Sutton, who renamed the village when he decreed that all profits from the living here should go to support the choirboys of Lincoln Cathedral. The name ‘Ashby Puerorum’ translates loosely as ‘the little boys’ Ashby’. The connection is remembered over 7 centuries later, for the choir still sings at St Andrews church occasionally.
The village dates to at least the late Saxon period and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was owned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, William the Conqueror’s half-brother. At that time it was called Ascheby, meaning a farmstead where ash trees grow. It supported a population of 9 villagers, 2 smallholders, and 14 freemen.
In the church tower are a pair of early medieval bells. The oldest bell is said to date from around 1150, which would make it the oldest surviving bell in the county. The church is set beside a farmyard and from the churchyard there are excellent views out over the Lincolnshire Wolds.
We ended our day, as the rain started at Brinkhill –
The church is dedicated to St Phillip and is a Grade II listed building dating from 1857. In the churchyard stands an ancient listed churchyard cross, the base of which dates from the 14th century, with a 19th-century alteration.
The Greenwich Prime Meridian line passes through the village.
I hope you are enjoying the Meridian journey. I’m hoping for better weather as time goes on, and hopefully at the end of it all, I can put together a talk for camera clubs, and anyone else who might like to see it all.
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