Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Woodland colours at Holme Fen

Red ferns and green leaves under silver birch trees at Holme Fen

A couple of weeks ago, in my third visit to Holme Fen, the largest stand of silver birch trees of its kind in the country, and a place that has more atmosphere than you can shake silvery stick at, I get a bit of warm afternoon sunshine for the first time.

So taking advantage of that, I took a bit of time to explore and get a few shots of the autumn colours, both on the trees themselves, and on the vibrant carpets of ferns that cloak the forest floor.

To find out a bit more on the history of this intriguing place, including how it rivalled the lake district in its aqueousness, and why eels were used as local currency, see my previous post on the area.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Autumn at Hinchingbrooke Country Park

Trees in autumn colour in the Hinchingbrooke Country Park in Cambridgeshire

A couple of weeks ago my camera and I took a little trip over to Hinchinbrooke Country Park to get some pictures of the autumn colour.

Hinchingbrooke Country Park has 170 acres of open grasslands, meadows, woodlands and lakes and wildlife. It includes 63 acres of woodland areas - an oak plantation; a hornbeam dominated woodland (Bob's Wood); and other woodland comprised of more mixed species (Alder, Ash, Sycamore, Pines, Field Maple, Hazel, Willow, Birch).

I’d like to tell you a bit about the history of the place, but I can find absolutely nothing about it anywhere, so I’m assuming it’s been created relatively recently, so you’ll just have to make do with the pictures of autumn bloom.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Holme Fen on an autumn evening

Siver birch stand among the autumn colours in Holme Fen nature reserve

My second visit to the fabulous Holme Fen was on a rather overcast day. I arrived in the late afternoon and spent a very enjoyable few hours traipsing through the undergrowth and admiring the view until it was too dark to really see much at all.

As atmospheric as it is during the day, at dusk that atmosphere seems to pour in from all directions. The colours may be more muted, but the rustling of leaves, the sharp movements in the undergrowth and the all pervading silence seem to close in and come into explicit clarity. 

There is something special about the feeling of walking through a woodland or forest, especially one with so much character, with the light fading fast, when colours, trees and undergrowth seem to blend together into unrecognisable shapes and unfamiliar structures. I had the place to myself, so my only company were the regular inhabitants, for whom my presence was an unwelcome delay in their nocturnal activities no doubt.

Once I had left the woodland and found myself back on the drove road, I experienced the same feeling I had the last time I was there, namely, I was looking forward to coming back again. There is something very compelling about the place, plus there were parts of it I hadn't yet explored, and if that wasn't a good reason to return I don't know what was.

The following images were taken that afternoon/evening, before the light became too dusky to work with. I hope you enjoy looking through them as much as I enjoyed taking them. To see photos from my first visit, and find out a bit about the interesting history of the place please see my previous post.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Holme Fen - autumn colour & sunset lake

Silver birch trees stand among red ferns at Holme Fen nature reserve

I have recently been rather taken with a quiet patch of woodland named Holme Fen, and have visited it several times. It’s a very atmospheric place which, based on my sojourns, attracts very little in the way of visitors. This is surprising as this 660 acre plot contains, among other things, the largest, and some say the finest, silver birch woodland in lowland Britain, an impressive cornucopia of fungi, around 500 species, and at 9 foot below sea level, the lowest point in the UK.

It has also been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Nature Conservation Review Site, plus, it is home to a variety of birdlife. But I’m sure there are times when I’ve been there and I had the place entirely to myself.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Autumn evening at Grafham Water

Grafham Water reservoir with trees in full autumn colour in Cambridgeshire

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip over to Grafham Water in the hope that I would get a decent sunset, and find a few shots of the autumn colours that line the reservoir. Thankfully I managed to get both, which was a nice bonus.

Grafham Water is a reservoir with a circumference of about 10 miles. It is the eighth largest reservoir in England by volume and the third largest by area at 1,550 acres. The lake was created by filling a valley full of water which is retained by an earth and concrete dam. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Several visits to Ouse Fens Nature Reserve

Clouds reflect in the river at Ouse Fens in Cambridgeshire

At this time of year, sunsets are a bit more manageable thanks to the shorter days, so I have recently been visiting Ouse Fens Nature Reserve of an evening. This RSPB site it a haven for many types of bird life, some of them quite rare. Unfortunately my wildlife photography skills leave a lot to be desired, so I stuck to landscapes.

Thankfully there are several spots to be found along the River Ouse, and some of them do favour the sunset image, so I have been taking full advantage. Below are a selection of images, they're not all taken at different spots, but all are taken on different days, with accompanying weather conditions and cloud cover to add a touch of variety.

Friday, November 4, 2016

An evening at Wimpole Folly

Autumn panoramic with the Folly at the Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire

I recently paid a visit to Wimpole Estate, 3,000 acres of parkland, which contains Wimpole Hall, the largest house in Cambridgeshire, along with a church, a farm and a walled garden, but I wasn’t there to see any of that, I had my sights set on the folly.

This substantial pile of Grade II listed masonry was built in the 1770’s, and designed to resemble the ruins of a gothic castle. It was designed by Sanderson Miller, who was a noted follies architect of the day, and is probably best known for the Great Hall at Lacock Abbey, the place where William Fox Talbot created the earliest existing camera negative. The folly was actually built by Capability Brown several years later, when he ‘naturalised’ the parkland landscape in his inimitable style. 

I arrived in the late afternoon and made my way over to the Folly, stopping at various spots to admire and photograph the view. Thanks to the time of year, the trees were displaying their autumn coats and lit up the grounds in vibrant hues. Unfortunately sunset was a non-event, there was practically no colour in the sky, but once dusk had settled, a thick carpet of mist began to creep and curl over the landscape, which resulted in some rather nice autumnal scenes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Autumn at Monks Wood part two

Close up image of black berries at Monks Wood

Following on from yesterday's post from Monks Wood, where we saw the trees changing into their autumn finery, in this post, also from Monks Wood in Cambridgeshire, we look a bit closer at some shots of the leaves and berries that festoon the undergrowth and the vibrant colours they reveal.

Monks Wood is a fair size woodland and doesn't get many visitors, which meant I pretty much had the place to myself as I rummaged through the thicket looking for shots. It was very peaceful indeed.

I hope you enjoy looking through them as much as I did taking them.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Autumn at Monks Wood part one

Cambridgeshire woodland in autumn colour

Last week I took a trip over to Monks Wood in Cambridgeshire, it was designated a national nature reserve in 1953, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It has been described as one of the best examples of ancient ash-oak woodland in the East Midlands.

I was in search of some autumn colour, there wasn't a great deal about, but I managed to find a bit, as you see.

The following images show what colour I could find in this attractive woodland. In part two we will have a closer look at the leaves and berries that adorn the trees.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ouse Washes - From sombre to sunset

Ouse Washes in Cambridgeshire with shafts of sunlight through clouds

I recently paid a couple of visits to Ouse Washes, a nature reserve managed by the RSPB, which houses two diversion channels from the River Great Ouse and is the largest area of frequently flooded (for an average of 22 days per year) grazing marsh in Britain.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Lyveden New Bield in Northamptonshire

Lyveden Hall and mound reflected in the moat in the autumn sunshine

A couple of weeks ago I visited the National Trust property of Lyveden New Bield, an unfinished Elizabethan summer house in the east of Northamptonshire, and a Grade I listed building.

It was constructed for Sir Thomas Tresham, who was a figure of national importance and a talented designer, and also a fervent Roman Catholic, for which he suffered persecution a good portion of his life. Much of the garden design and cultivation instruction were penned by Tresham from his prison cell. The house is thought to have been designed by Robert Stickells. The exact date is unknown but can be estimated to circa 1604–05, the year of Tresham's death. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dorset Day 3 - Corfe Castle ruins to Kingston Lacy finery

Image of the ocean at Swanage in Dorset at sunrise.

Woke up to my alarm and dutifully got ready to head out for sunrise, checking my phone just before I stepped out and I realised I'd lost half an hour somewhere. Turns out I'd immediately fallen back to sleep after switching off the alarm and didn't realise it, so I was running rather late.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dorset Day 2 - From stormy sea to Brownsea (Island)

Groyne on Swanage seafront on the Dorset coast at sunrise

I awoke to a very dismal morning, not the best news when you're on the hunt for a decent sunrise. My plan was to head for Peveril Point in Swanage, to document the beginning of a glorious new day, but as I arrived at the car park on the eastern tip of the town, it started to hammer it down, so I sat and waited patiently for it to subside, which in due course it did.

So gathering up my stuff, I began to set off on the 10 minute walk to the coast, but after a few steps I thought better of it, as it began to lash it down once more. I realised that even if I waited for this shower to clear, if the rain insisted on a repeat performance, particularly one with a bit of longevity to it, which seemed prodigiously feasible. Once I was down at the point, I and my gear were going to get a thorough drenching. I needed somewhere with a bit of shelter, where I could cower and hide should the weather mount a sustained attack.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Dorset Day 1 - Corfe Castle & Durdle Door

Early morning image of Corfe Castle in Dorset with a line of clouds above.

Last week I paid another visit to the beautiful coast of Dorset, around the Swanage area, as it had been a while since I'd been there last, which meant it high was time I got a few more pictures from this very scenic region. My first day was spent almost exclusively at Durdle Door and Corfe Castle, or Durdle Dorf Castle as I like to say when referring to them together.

My initial stop was sunrise at Corfe Castle, where I ascended West Hill, to get a view of the sun rising from behind the ruins. Unfortunately the sky wasn’t looking like it was going to play ball, there were hardly any clouds, apart from a thick plume along the horizon where the sun was supposed to make an appearance. So I was not best pleased I can tell you, but as I’d made the effort to get part way up the hill, I wasn’t about to turn back without giving the dawn the benefit of the doubt, and allowing it to make amends for such a tardy display.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Oxburgh Hall - Part two

Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk on a sunny afternoon in a panoramic image

In part two of my visit to Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, I take a wander around The Wilderness, stroll through Home Covert and I encounter some very charismatic trees.

Wilderness gardens were created in deliberate contrast to the rigid formality of gardens immediately surrounding country houses. Clumps of shrubs, specimen trees, meandering paths and the dappled sunlight of surrounding woodland created a romantic illusion of an untamed landscape, in which people could walk and experience nature.

This part of the estate also contains a large boulder, about a metre across, that is composed of hundreds of fossilised oysters, and has been dated back to around 165 million years ago. I didn't take a picture of it, as its picturesque interest is of a somewhat limited value.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Oxburgh Hall - Part one

Oxburgh Hall reflection in moat on a sunny afternoon

Last week I paid a visit to Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk. Despite being built during the Wars of the Roses, Oxburgh Hall was never intended to be a castle but a family home. It was completed in 1482 for Sir Edmund Bedingfeld and the family have lived at Oxburgh ever since. It is now run by the National Trust, although the family still lives there.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Anglesey Abbey, a look around the house.

Cambridgeshire stately home of Anglesey Abbey

Following on from my tour around the gardens at the National Trust property of Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire, here we have a look at the impressive house itself and the accompanying Rose Garden.

Once a medieval Augustinian priory, then an Elizabethan manor house, Anglesey Abbey was restored in the early 20th century by Lord Fairhaven to create a richly decorated showcase for his eccentric collection of fine art. The house retains parts of the original medieval buildings and Elizabethan decoration.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Anglesey Abbey gardens in bloom

Anglesey Abbey scene in Cambridgeshire by Martyn Ferry Photography

A couple of weeks ago I visited Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust property located a few miles north of Cambridge. I wanted to have a mooch around the grounds and house, as well as visit the vibrant display of dahlias they have every year. 

This first post is all about the grounds. The 98 acres of landscaped grounds are divided into a number of walks and gardens, with classical statuary, topiary and flowerbeds. They were laid out in an 18th-century style by the estate's last private owner, the 1st Baron Fairhaven, in the 1930s. Baron Fairhaven bequeathed the house and grounds to the National Trust upon his death in 1966.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Exmoor Day 5 - Culbone Wood & England's smallest church

Tangle of tree in Culbone Woodland in Exmoor National Park by Martyn Ferry Photography

I arose, on my last day in Exmoor, to a dank, drizzly morning, so a sunrise was out of the question. After packing up the tent in the rain, always a delightful job, I drove to Porlock Weir so I could begin a spot of rambling along the South West Coast Path.

By the time I arrived it was starting to brighten up a bit, with the morning sunshine appearing through the ever thinning clouds. I parked up, and strapping on my camera bag, I took the little track to the coastal path. I was only walking a tiny fraction of it, the entire length of the path is 630 miles, the longest in England, and stretches from Minehead, around the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, all the way to Pool in Dorset. And because it rises and falls with every river mouth, the total height climbed, if you were to complete the route, has been estimated at 114,931 feet, almost four times the height of Everest. I wasn’t about to do that.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Exmoor Day 4 – A golden valley & over familiar insects

Exe Valley in the Exmoor National Park at sunrise by Martyn Ferry Photography

Up for sunrise again this morning, this time I was heading to the Exe Valley, located just the other side of Simonsbath. The valley itself is not the most interesting of valleys, it doesn’t have the precipitous slopes or trees and shrubbery of the Barle Valley, nor is the River Exe that imposing, it’s just a small trickle occasionally spied among the valley floor grasses. The one thing it does have going for it though is the sunrise, which ascends beyond the basin and lights up the landscape below, at least that was the hope.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Exmoor Day 3 - A punchbowl sunrise & sunset feast

Sunrise image of The Punchbowl in Exmoor National Park by Martyn Ferry Photography

I was up at five for a sunrise shoot at the Punchbowl, where I’d been the afternoon before, as it looked like it might be a worthwhile spot for some early morning antics. I got there a little late though, as the sky was already beginning to transform from the lead grey of nights end into the first flush of dawn.

Parking up and grabbing my gear, I took off at speed into the moorland to find a suitable spot for what I hoped might be a rewarding show. If anyone had been passing by they would have witnessed a rather ungainly fellow scampering through the ferns, tripod flailing in the morning breeze, crying out ‘wait for me’ to the blushing sky. Whether it’s shade signalled the start of a colourful sunrise, or it was just embarrassed to be seen with me, I didn’t yet know.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Exmoor Day 2 – Mischievous rain and a sat nav mutiny

Landscape at Porlock Common in Exmoor National Park by Martyn Ferry Photography

After a very disturbed night, thanks to the seemingly endless rain tap tap tapping on my taut tent topping, I wasn’t up that early, not that there was much to be up for, the rain was still continuing its cascade of damp misery. So after a leisurely breakfast, by which time the clouds had taken on a more cheery countenance and the sun was finally awake, I took a drive over the moors to the coast, and Porlock Common.

Porlock Common is a fetching piece of land that comprises meadows of heather and a patchwork of trim, hedge lined fields upon rolling landscape, all situated right on the coast. It encompasses all of what makes Exmoor such an appealing place, in a way that very few spots in the National Park manage to do. And it was looking very fine in the morning light.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Exmoor Day 1 – The tent offensive and a valley storm

Castle rock bathed in warm sunlight under stormy clouds in Exmoor by Martyn Ferry Photography

Last week I spent a few days in one of my favourite places, Exmoor National Park. I was camping near Exford so I was hoping the weather would stay clement for the duration, as I don’t find tenting and rain an agreeable combination.

So, I arrived at the campsite accompanied by a howling wind and intermittent blustery downpours, perfect conditions to set up a large, flapping piece of canvas. As I wrestled with my accommodation, doing my best to deal with its angry flailings, like an overwrought parent who’s run out of Ritalin, the sun did finally, if bashfully and fleetingly, show its face, so I had reason to hope things might improve.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

An evening at Ouse Fen nature reserve

Evening photogrphy at RSPB nature reserve with wildflowers in Cambridgeshire by Martyn Ferry Photography
While not so prevalent at this time of the evening, at other times these wildflowers attract a whole host of
insects. I have walked through during the day and each step produces a kaleidoscope of colourful butterflies
and electric blue damselflies.

The other evening I took a little trip to the RSPB nature reserve at Ouse Fen in Cambridgeshire, so called because it is traversed by The Great Ouse. At 143 miles, its journey from near Bedford to the Wash makes it one of the longest rivers in the UK. Hence the ‘Great’ moniker, to distinguish it from several other waterways named the Ouse.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Before & after images of the Dordogne

Dordogne images comparison with Photoshop editing then and now

Going through my website recently, I realised how much my processing style had changed over the years, hopefully for the better! Workflow and processing skills should evolve over time, and along with things like camera technique and compositional skills, go to make us better photographers. 

The down side is of course, when I look at images I processed years ago I don't exactly get a warm feeling inside. So to that end I decided to re-visit my images from the Dordogne taken in 2010, and thought it might be interesting, at least to me anyway, to compare how my processing from 6 years ago has changed to how I process them today.

The full article can be seen on my website, where I have to tools to offer a direct comparison between the images.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blenheim Park & Gardens

Blenheim Palace and Grand Bridge set in Capability Brown's landscaped park by Martyn Ferry Photography

A couple of weeks ago I visited Blenheim Palace park and gardens for a spot of photography. Located in the village of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, this magnificent building and surrounding gardens are always worth a look.

The building of the palace was originally intended to be a reward to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, from a grateful nation for the duke's military triumphs against the French and Bavarians during the War of the Spanish Succession, culminating in the 1704 Battle of Blenheim.

Designed in the rare, and short-lived, English Baroque style, architectural appreciation of the palace is as divided today as it was in the 1720s. It is unique in its combined usage as a family home, mausoleum and national monument. The palace is also notable as the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill. At the end of the 19th century, the palace was saved from ruin by funds gained from the 9th Duke of Marlborough's marriage to American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hertfordshire Poppies

Bright red poppies in the morning sun under a blue sky and white clouds outside Royston in Hertfordshire by Martyn Ferry Photography

This morning I visited a poppy field outside the town of Royston in Hertfordshire. This particular poppy field has been in the news recently because local Farmer Helen Smith was expecting a field of blue linseed, but ended up with field of red when the crop spray they used didn't suppress the poppies sufficiently.

You can hear more about it on the itv website here.

Whatever the reason for the display, it certainly is an arresting site. What with the weather looking to get pretty dismal for the rest of the week, I thought it was prudent to get down there ASAP, and luckily for me the clouds were almost as spectacular as the poppies.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Cotswolds - Eynsham

The Square in Eynsham village in Oxfordshire by Martyn Ferry Photography

In the occasional series of tours around some the Oxfordshire Cotswolds more picturesque villages we visit Eynsham.

Eynsham is pronounced "Ensham". The spelling was changed by the Post Office in the 19th century, as it was constantly getting confused with Evesham. The origin of the name is a bit uncertain; 'ham' means meadow - and the 'En" may - or may not - be a contraction of somebody's name. 

Before humans arrived though, the area was occupied by mammoths. In the gravel pits just south of Eynsham, a large number of mammoth bones have been dug up over the past 10 years.

A causeway made of pebbles and stones was discovered recently near Eynsham by the A40 gravel pits. It probably dates from about 4,000 years ago - so it's one of the very earliest human constructions in Britain that survives.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

West Woods Bluebells

Bluebells at West Woods in Marlborough by Martyn Ferry Photography

Recently I took a trip down to Marlborough to visit the West Woods in their full bluebell glory. West Woods is a plantation of beech trees on a former ancient woodland site, managed by the Forestry Commission.

Until around 1300 West Woods was part of Savernake Forest, but now, along with Savernake and Collingbourne Woods, form Marlborough Woodland. West Woods is one-fifth of the size of Savernake Forest, and was clear-felled in 1928, leaving only a few Ancient and Veteran trees on the outskirts. It was replanted with mainly Beech, with some Birch, Pine Sycamore and Ash.

As I visited during the week, the woods were relatively empty, especially for the time of year, so I had no trouble getting some shots of the peaceful woodland bejewelled in a sea of brilliant azure.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Austy Woods bluebells

Bluebell wood panoramic in Warwickshire By Martyn Ferry Photography

This morning I paid a visit to Austy Woods, a private woodland located in the heart of Warwickshire. Normally the woods are closed to the public, apart from once a year when the family open them up for two days on the early May bank holiday weekend, to coincide with the eruption of bluebells that occur here every year, and to raise money for charity.

It’s widely recognised as one of the most spectacular displays of bluebells in the county, and beyond I would imagine. Whereas most places have patches of colour, here nearly every part of the woods is carpeted in the sapphire flowers, there must be countless millions of them.

Thankfully they had agreed to let us visit the woodland after the bank holiday, which by all accounts was a bit of a melee, I can’t remember how many thousands of people they said had visited over the two days, but it was a lot. But because we arrived on the Tuesday, we had the place to ourselves, which was rather splendid.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Northumberland Day 4 - A couple of coastal castles

Dunstanburgh Castle in black and white by Martyn Ferry Photography

Following on from my day spent at Howick Hall, I decided to take a ride to Dunstanburgh Castle in the wildly optimistic hope that I might get something for sunset. Stopping at Embleton, I strode across the golf course that runs along the shore, girding myself against the blustery wind, and headed more or less directly to the shoreline that runs beneath the castle walls.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Northumberland Day 3 - Howick Hall Gardens

Snowdrops at Howick Hall by Martyn Ferry Photography

Woke up for sunrise, but it was obvious there wasn't going to be one, just a uniform grey, slowly lightening, which with even the best will in the world, wasn't worth getting out of bed for.

I got up again a bit later and pottered about, I was going to Howick Park, which didn't open until 10.30 so I had plenty of time. I arrived and had a wander into the gardens, which were full of snowdrops. Not many daffodils though which was a shame, as there were thousands planted, but they still had at least a couple of weeks to go. 

Howick Hall, a Grade II* listed building and the ancestral seat of the Earls Grey. It was the home of the Prime Minister Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, after whom the famous tea is named. The original Earl Grey tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin to suit the water at Howick, and was later marketed by Twinings.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Northumberland Day 2 - Warkworth Castle & dismal dunes

Warkworth Castle in Northumberland by Martyn Ferry Photography

Woke up to a very dismal morning, so after a spot of breakfast, I drove to Warkworth to have a look at the castle. The place itself hadn't opened for the season yet, but it's well worth a visit to see it standing proud over the town below.

When the castle was founded is uncertain: traditionally its construction has been ascribed to Prince Henry of Scotland in the mid-12th century, but it may have been built by King Henry II of England when he took control of England's northern counties. The then timber castle was considered "feeble", and was left undefended when the Scots invaded in 1173.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Northumberland Day 1 - Colourful boats at an overcast Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne at Holy Island in Northumberland by Martyn Ferry Photography

After arriving in the late afternoon gloom the day before, leaving behind a country that seemed to be bathed in sunshine along most of its length, I awoke to another misty, leaden day and headed off to Berwick-upon-Tweed for want of somewhere to go.

Had a mooch around the town, half of which looked closed and up onto the surrounding wall which encompasses the settlement for views over the coast and River Tweed. But it the views were all pretty dismal, although there was a very real sense of history about the place which I think the murkiness gave atmosphere to.

After getting a coffee I took a drive south to Lindisfarne to have a look around the harbour. I spent a bit of time getting some shots of the colourful old boats the lined the shore, as there wasn't much else I could do. I got a bit carried away, as I had a good idea that this would probably be the one and only time I would get the camera out that day.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

An abandoned village in Oxfordshire

Hampton Gay manor house ruins in black and white by Martyn Ferry Photography

Last week I took a visit to the abandoned village of Hampton Gay, all that remains of the place is a ruined manor house and church. The outline of the former village can be seen as raised plots in the fields. The name Gay originates from the de Gay family, former Lords of the Manor there in the 12th century. Hampton, or hamm tun is an old Anglo Saxon word meaning hamlet by the water meadow

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Cotswolds - Woodstock

Woodstock Oxfordshire town hall on a sunny day

Next in our very occasional series on places to see in the the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, we visit the picturesque market town of Woodstock. The name Woodstock is Old English in origin, meaning a "clearing in the woods". The Domesday Book of 1086 describes Woodstock as a royal forest. Ethelred the Unready, king of England, is said to have held an assembly at Woodstock at which he issued a legal code now known as IX Ethelred.

Henry I, youngest son of William the Conqueror, built a royal lodge in Woodstock and this was enlarged to create a grand manor house by his successor Henry II. The Black Prince was born here in 1330, and It is this area that became the Blenheim estate.

Henry II often stayed at Woodstock with his mistress 'The Fair Rosamund' and during his time spent here granted parcels of land to build hostelries for the use of his men. A weekly market, on Tuesdays was also established when he gave Woodstock a Royal charter in 1179.