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Adrian Fletcher & Sons and Dom Paradox in Britain, September - November 2009


last updated 13 February 2010






1. East South and West of England (this page)


2. North East of England


4. West Midlands


3. North West of England





Time-wise, the earliest visits are at the top of thIs page





Sunday starter - South door of the tiny pilgrim Church of St Nicholas Barfreston, near Canterbury - "the Kilpeck of the south" - lots of exquisite detailed photos to come, meantime here's a tongue loller .....









Celebrity Chef meets acrobat in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral



1066 - the field near Hastings that the Normans stormed up to take England.



Bodium Castle, Sussex




The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin in the village of Buriton, Hampshire - home to paradox ancestors the Sewards in the 1800s and now guardian of their tombs and memorials




also the church where Norfolk / Portsea Wine Merchant Alex Aldous married Yeoman Farmer's daughter Elizabeth Seward on 24 May 1855, and where she was buried at the end of 1862. 




Great great great great (great) grandsons James and Nick Fletcher at the Seward / Haw tomb / vault in Buriton on the morning of Saturday 26 September, 2009







The Sewards moved to Buriton from Loxwood, just north of Wisborough Green, in the early years of the 1800s.  Wisborough Green is famous for its cricket and a rare bit of fresco surviving in the Parish Church of St Peter ad Vincula - and the Cricketers' Arms serves a mean pub lunch!  We also found a few fringe Seward tombs in the well mapped graveyard.





Saint Stephen's church, Gloucester Road (London), completed around 1866.  Alex and Elizabeth Aldous' son George, married  Isabella Stewart from Melbourne Australia on 7 September 1887.  George and Isabella lived in Plymouth until 1920 then retired to Harrow.  They became Adrian's great grand-parents.



Photo from Imperial College - the Dom's Alma Mater - to come





Just round the corner from Gloucester Road, this magnificent Becket Reliquary Box is one of the few things left in the old V & A Medieval & Renaissance gallery, because they are busy moving stuff to the new one which opens in December (2009, they say!).  Archbishop Thomas Becket was hacked to death in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170.








Up country a bit in Suffolk, East Anglia, our search for James Aldous, the family wine merchant, maltster and brewer in Harleston (near Norwich) is interrupted by the discovery of an extraordinary painted medieval "doom" (English usage) or last judgement (detail of the jaws of hell bit above) in St Peter Wenhaston.





All Saints, Mendham (Suffolk), at harvest festival time (late September) 2009, with a mass of beautiful flower and produce arrangements.  Alex Aldous' father James (1784 - c1853 (66)) was  a wine, porter & spirits merchant, maltster, brewer and farmer based in Harleston (which is linked in parish-wise with Redenhall and Mendham).  James Aldous married Harriett Poole at All Saints Mendham (pre Victorian restoration) on 10 July 1809.



Harleston market Place c1820 - print from Harleston Heritage Group booklet - James Aldous would have been 36ish at the time.



2009 - the chapel has gone leaving a copy of its tower attached to a bank building and a much reduced market area.


The street on the left above is called "The Thoroughfare".  Earlier, when James Aldous lived and did business there in the early / mid 1800s, it was "The Throwfare".  The large red brick Swan Hotel in the left distance is common to both images, and many of the other buildings look as though they have been there a long time.




Back in the south - the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, Old Milton (Hampshire) - now sadly an isolated drab and locked place.  Hope it was a bit more cheerful in 1915 when my grandparents Frank Rex Fletcher and Ethel Burton married on 15 August 1915,  Why Milton ?  Ethel's family lived in Upper Norwood (London) in 1911, but perhaps they had moved south to get more sea air.





Team Paradox has just missed out on Romsey Abbey (ex-Royal-Nunnery) on a couple of previous occasions.  Today we finally made it, through the cold driving October rain, and fell in love - it's a stunning place - here's some unusual tasters - medieval tiles incorporating crusader images hidden under the altar in the Chapel of Saint George (above), an abbess' sepulchral plate (below left) and a beautiful Saxon rood (below right - it's about 1M high).


Link to new Paradoxplace page on Romsey Abbey Church of St Mary & St Etheldreda




A medieval Romsey abbess clings to her temporal authority in death.









On to the West Country, through heavy rain and waterlogged roads.  An out of the way visit to the tiny Knight Hospitaller chapel of St Basil, in a farm field in the hamlette of Toller Fratrum (9 miles north of Dorchester, Dorset).  We're here to see the 1100s (or earlier) font ....












Emmanuel Church, Compton Gifford (Plymouth), where my other grandparents Clare Aldous and Jimmy Sproule were married on 28 July 1915.



Charlton House - home of my great grandfather Dr George Aldous and his Australian wife Isabella (and just down the road from Emmanuel Church).





On the way back east, a quick visit to Exeter Cathedral to capture the famous roof-boss image of the murder of Thomas Becket.  Despite the lovely late afternoon sun, the large grassed area in front of the Cathedral retained the rather uncomfortable feral feel that we had noticed on a previous visit in 2005, which is why it was a quick visit!





Further east, much much higher and less well lit than the Exeter murder, the Sherborne Abbey  mermaid roof boss put our new Nikon 300 lens to its first big test.  Even the corner ensemble shown below (mermaid on the right) is much clearer than the naked eye can manage. 


More photos from the visit to Sherborne Abbey are already in Paradoxplace.





Back in London, the last southern family history church on our list was the Old Church, St Pancras - now in an almost wooded setting beside the railway tracks leading out of the refurbished St Pancras Railway Station. 




Old Church, St Pancras c1827.  This was where Hampshire Yeoman Farmer Samuel Seward married local girl Elizabeth Haw on 6 March 1821. 




Yeoman Seward would not recognize today's church, the result of an extreme Victorian makeover and a very ho-hum interior designer.




A mob of tombstones, cleared along with associated bones c1846 from church land bought by the London Midland Railway for St Pancras Station, under the supervision of one Thomas Hardy when he thought that he was going to be an architect.





The exciting building find of the day was the Church of St Bartholomew the Great, next to St Barts Hospital (opposite the Smithfield markets).  The church is in fact the choir and chancel of the church of the original Augustinian priory built in the early 1100s - the original nave not being there any more.  It is the "purest Norman" left in London.




1. East South and West of England (this page)


2. North East of England


4. West Midlands


3. North West of England








Adrian Fletcher's main website



Paradoxplace, a place full of  the buildings (especially abbeys cathedrals and churches), art, books, history and stories of the movers and shakers of Medieval and Early Modern Europe / Renaissance Italy and Western Europe plus lots of foodie stuff. 



Paradoxplace photo pages about Britain



Bellatrovata is the original "on the road" site for Adrian (aka Adriano and Dom Paradox) Fletcher's European explorations.  Material relating to explorations in Italy (including Tuscany, Rome and Venice), Spain, France and Britain between 2004 and 2006 has now been transferred to Adrian's main web site - Paradoxplace - and Bellatrovata has been spring cleaned in preparation for the next road trips in England (Autumn 2009) and  Northern Italy and Burgundy (May 2010).



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