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Adrian Fletcher & Dom Paradox D.O.C.G.

aka Paradox of Paradoxplace, and family website ciaofamiglia




Finding more interesting new (for us) places, revisiting interesting old places and

tracking down more family places


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St Peter, Southrop (Gloucestershire Cotswolds)

A very old font which shows 5 virtues eliminating 5 sins (this is panel 4 - (pants down) Luxuria (aka Lust)

written backwards so as not to give you bad ideas if you had not already heard of it, skewered by Chastity?)

This font was also found buried in the churchyard.






Life in Hell - a small part of the Last Judgement West Window in the amazing and mostly original 1515-1525 stained glass filled Fairfield Parish Church of Saint Mary (Gloucestershire Cotswolds) - another wool church, but this time with the help of the Royal (Henry VII) Glaziers and a Flemish painter or two.  Outside of Chartres (200+/- years' earlier) this is the most complete old stained glass ensemble anywhere.  Everything and everyone is there, from Eve through the life / death / life of Jesus to the last judgement.  And a few wonderful portraits of baddies like Judas and a school of devils are also thrown in.  By this date the Italian Renaissance was into its third generation of artists, and this is clearly evident in the quality and style of the artwork, some of which is almost interchangeable with, say, Ghirlandao's frescos in Florence.


In all, three similar window cycles were made.  Westminster Abbey got the first (tragically sadly destroyed by German bombs), Henry VII popped in to Fairford to have a look after the second set of glass was installed here, and a similar array appeared in his Kings College Chapel in Cambridge some time later.


The 16 Fairford Devils, very high up in the clerestory,  are also amazing - here are representatives from three out of the four devil groups:







A dignified and very old Sheela-na-gig on an inside wall near the font  of the church of Ampney St Peter, Gloucestershire Cotswolds






Look what the vicar found whilst fossicking around in the churchyard of St Mary, Luppitt (Devon) just over 100 years ago.




Sunday morning 16 October 2011 - breakfast with a view from Room 1 of the Pierhouse Hotel, Charlestown (Cornwall).


  The view was more fun than than watching the NZ v Oz rugby semi final world cup match .... oh dearie dearie me  ......

Fletch has now watched Australian losses in the Rugby World Cup from Sorrento (2003 final loss to England) and the Auvergne (2007 loss to England again) and now to New Zealand.






No matter - forget the Rugby disaster - time to revive the great touring Paradox Sunday Lunch tradition, and what better place than Rick Stein's (monk)fish and chips in Falmouth, where we also got to go to our first English Food Festival and learned about the Falmouth Packets in the next door Maritime Museum.  As a matter of interest both previous Oz Rugby losses were marked by outstanding meals and red wine ......





Falmouth Harbour on a seductive day - it's one of the biggest natural deep harbours in the world.  Nick Middlecoat's* brother-in-law and intermittent business partner, William Hambly, was Mayor of Falmouth in 1798 & 1799.  He was a one man Cornwall promotion operation - at one stage sending samples of Cornish Cheese and Ham to George Washington via the Falmouth Packet Boats.  Sadly he over-reached himself financially and went bankrupt a couple of years' later, but there is a letter of appreciation in George Washington's papers:


*Nick Middlecoat (1752-1844 (92)) of Tregony, was Adrian's 4xGrt Grandfather.  Innkeeper, two timing political agent, Cornish rogue, bankrupt, convicted electoral fraudster - an interesting man!  




Off to the right we spotted what we thought might be one of the last ships in the British Navy, until we noticed that it was flying the Australian flag.  It turned out that she was the ex "RFA Largs Bay", recently bought by the Australian Navy and renamed "HMAS Choules".  Six months' later the Choules was sitting exhausted and crippled in Sydney after a major transformer breakdown as she was steaming towards her first Aussie naval exercise.   In April 2013 repairs were said to have been completed at the expense of the long suffering Australian taxpayer  -  nobody seemed to be talking about how the purchaser inspection (not?) failed to notice that the ships major transformers  were shot.



from President George Washington to Mayor William Hambly


Mount Vernon, September 1, 1799.

Sir: I have been favoured with your favour of the 13th. of April from Falmouth, accompanying what I persuade myself will (when opened) be found to be, a very fine Cheese, as all which I have had from you, have proved.

For this additional evidence of your kind, and polite attention to me, I pray you to accept my gratitude and thanks.

Unsuccessful in my first attempt to get a few (Virginia) Hams to you I am making another trial through the medium of Messrs. Thompson and Veitch, and hope they will meet a better fate than the last.

For your obliging wishes respecting me I feel very sensible. I reciprocate them cordially, and am Sir etc





















Dr George Demountfryart, Adrian's 7xGrt Grandfather and Mayor of Bodmin in 1700


Physician George Demountfryart (1652 - 1717 (65)), Adrian's 7xGrt Grandfather and Nick Middlecoat jnr's Grt Grandfather, had five terms as Mayor of Bodmin (Cornwall)  - 1691, 1694, 1700, 1712, & 1716.



George's name and 1700 mayoral term is still remembered on an inscribed stone next to this Bodmin Bell Lane water outlet.  The water is piped from "The Beacon", a hill some distance south of Bodmin, so this would have been a significant engineering undertaking, particularly after the need to rebuild the church spire which had been destroyed by lightening in December 1699.  The water was said to be very healthy and especially good for curing eye infections.  Not today we think, but the fact that the piping is still working is remarkable! 


Sadly, the much recommended Bodmin church was closed for the next half year - what is the point of having a large sign outside saying that it is open daily for the other half of the year ??






Fletch reaches Tregony High (Cornwall) - "my 4xgrt grandfather Nick Middlecoat jnr's (1752 - 1844 (92)) stomping ground in the late 1700s / early 1800s - his Coaching Inn "The Queen's Arms" stood on the site of the white house on the right".  The reason that the road is unusually wide is that in the middle there was a market hall, and above this was a meeting room (for the "council") - Nick went one stage further and put a substantial arch over the road between his inn on the right and the meeting room in the centre.  Substantial, because on top of the arch linking the inn and the meeting room was a drinking lounge run by Nick (a sort of Cornwall Vasari Corridor with bar). 


Tregony and the Middlecoats, Hambleys, Saunders, Hennas, Teagues, Demountfriarts et al



Detail from a 1787 map of Tregony held at the Cornish Archives


"I stood there imagining Nick the political fixer and deal maker, whose territory this was" ....... the 1787 map above shows the market place and the arch linking it with the Middlecoat inn.The photo above was taken from just to the left of the market place location.


The tower on the left was built much later when the middle-road markets were removed, but the large stone house (the old Rectory) and the coaching inn next door (The King's Arms - an excellent lunch spot and now sole survivor of Tregony's 30 - 40 inns and pubs) on the left would have been familiar sights to Nick.  Many many thanks to Frank Grigg, local historian, for helping interpret all of this and taking time to meet up.



1819 Electoral Bribery Conviction


On Wednesday July 14, 1819,  Isaac Watts, Samuel Groggan, John Luke, John Cooke and Nicholas Middlecote (sic) were tried before the Lord Chief Justice in the Court of the King's Bench, for a range of offences relating to the attempted bribery of electors in Tregony and Grampound before an election in the previous year.  They were found guilty in respect of the Grampound related offences, but we have yet to discover what the punishment was.  Electoral bribery in the so-called rotten boroughs of Cornwall was rampant at the time, yet this was the only case ever to be successfully brought to court before the Great Reform Act did a major clean-up in 1832.  Nick and his mates must have got something seriously wrong to go down in history in this way! 


Eventually, as a consequence of yet more bribery events, Grampound was formally disenfranchised in 1824 - the only rotten borough to receive this treatment prior to the Great Reform Act of 1832.  And Nicholas Middlecoat Jnr (72) faded from the public scene.  But he is far from finished life-wise.  In 1838 he is a witness at the marriage of his daughter Charlotte to Charles Oatey, in 1841 he is censussed in Rospeath near Land's End, and he finally dies in 1844, aged 92, and is buried in the Cuby with Tregony church.  Sadly his tombstone has not survived.



Grampound High, but probably the only building that dates from pre 1818 is the church.




View from Room 1 - Pierhouse Hotel, Charlestown (Cornwall).  The wharf, a man-dug space protected by a tidal lock, was for over 200 years the export centre for china clay, which was loaded onto boats from the top road by the houses via long shutes.    Cornwall possesses the only known china clay deposits in Europe, and the industry (still operating) was wealthy enough to dig out and build this easy to access dock, thus avoiding the narrow winding roads of the old fishing villages.


October - in Cornwall on the trail of Nicholas Middlecoat










The Roman double headed Imperial Eagle in the Cistercian Cleeve Abbey's medieval refectory floor.  King John's second son Richard (1209-1272 (63)) was

Earl of Cornwall and inter alia "King of the Romans" - but he never made it to Rome to claim the title of Holy Roman Emperor.  

Richard (the Cornwall one) also bankrolled the Cistercian abbey of Hailes, and left a few imperial eagles and his tomb there.




At Cistercian Cleeve Abbey (N Somerset) a medieval floor tile image of Saladin (c1137 - 1193 (56)) charging at full tilt.  The recipient of the charge - the awful King Richard - would have been shown in a facing tile.




A carved pew end in St Margaret, Spaxton (Quantock Hills, N Somerset) showing a fuller and his tools of trade.  Another church with a quality space feel.


As described in the church's website: "Fuller Bench-end in Spaxton Church - This well known Sixteenth Century bench-end in the parish church in Spaxton is a reminder of the source of wealth which enabled our ancestors to build the fine churches of Somerset.  It shows a fuller in his workshop at work with a two-handled mallet on a piece of cloth surrounded by other tools of his trade. There are shears, a knife, a weaver's comb and a three-pronged instrument which is a teasel holder.  At the very top of the carving is a weaver's beam from which a length of cloth is unwinding."



And outside, there's a few corbels still playing on.




Melbury Bubb (South of Yeovil, Somerset) - We came to this little church amidst farm houses to see the font (pics later), which was overlooked by this beautiful little Annunciation complete with a very startled looking Mary (that's how she is often done in England!). 


And what happened down the lane to have inherited the name "Hell Corner" ?







On the way west ...... Licking for England, West Knowle (Wiltshire)



131 Field Ambulance 1918 War Diary at the National Archives, Kew




131 Field Ambulance was commanded by Adrian's grandfather Jimmy Sproule, who wrote up their war diary every day - this page records his arrival to take command on 25 February 1918


More about the 131 War Diary and Jimmy Sproule



Previous Page - Start at bottom






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 contains photos and stories from the Autumn 2009 & 2011 road trips in England.   The website Ciao Adriano has illustrated accounts of extensive travels in France, Italy and England over 6 months in 2007.



Most material in this site is Adrian Fletcher 2000-2015 unless otherwise stated - the contents may not be hotlinked or reproduced except as explained in the Paradoxplace copyright policy.

Feedback and comments to afletch at paradoxplace dot com