In the north of the county*, just eight miles from the centre of Bristol lies the quiet village of Stanton Drew. Nestled in the rolling hills of this part of the county, it is easily overlooked. (Avoid using your SatNav – you will end up encountering all sorts of twisty turny country roads!!)
Old enough as a village to have featured in the Domesday Book, it was listed as Stantone, from the Old English and Celtic words meaning “the stone enclosure with an oak tree”.
Drew came from the name of one of the former owners of the area, and was added to distinguish the place from neighbouring Stanton Wick and Stanton Prior.
Approaching from the north, the first hint of Stanton Drew comes from the sight of the unusual Round House. Originally a tollhouse, this quirky thatched building sets the tone for the other buildings in the village.
Over the narrow bridge, and you arrive at the village itself.
You very readily identify that this was once a place of great wealth. There are a number of large properties, and it is difficult to identify if there was ever just one manor house.
Stanton Drew gained its wealth from coal, and, at, as late as the 1950s, there were as many as three mines within the parish boundaries.
In fact, there is little evidence of any smaller housing; yes the land around the village is also good for agriculture, but there aren’t many traditional farming cottages to be found.
The main religious site is the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which dates to the 13th and 14th centuries.
As befits a village of this stature, there is a school and village pub, but as you wander round Stanton Drew, you can’t help but get the feeling there there is something more about this place, something that you cannot quite put your finger on.
And oddly, it’s the garden of the village pub – The Druid’s Arms – that gives you the first hint.
For while Stanton Drew was first listed in the Domesday Book, its history significantly predates this writing from 1086.
Three stones form a prehistoric enclosure, within site of the village church. They hint at the ceremonial activities which took place here around 4,500 years ago.
They are also said to be the relics of a parson, bride and bridegroom, turned to stone by the Devil because their wedding guests danced on a Sunday.
Behind the church as the most impressive element of Stanton Drew.
Three stone circles, up to 371 ft (113m) in diameter lie to the east and north of the village. Contemporary in date to the Neolithic site at Stonehenge, the Great Stanton Drew circle is, in fact, larger than its more well-known Wiltshire counterpart.
Only the stone circle at Avebury is bigger in size, meaning that the Stone Age circles of Stanton Drew are, in fact, the second largest Neolithic site in the United Kingdom.
Significantly less visited than either Avebury or Stonehenge, Stanton Drew is one of the country’s best kept prehistoric secrets.
Undoubtedly one of the places to visit in the county, there is plenty to admire in Stanton Drew, and, for history buffs and walkers alike, there is more than enough to see and do.
* While Stanton Drew lies in the Bath and North East Somerset Unitary Authority, is is still part of the ceremonial county of Somerset, and so is happily included as part of this A-Z wandering.
I’m well overdue for another photographic wandering, so it’s time for another “9 in 45” shoot. I tied this in with a Boxing Day walk, dodging showers and working off some of those festive calories!
The idea of the project is to set out on a walk with a phone/stopwatch and your camera. Set your stopwatch for five minutes and start walking. When the five minutes is up, stop walking. You have a minute to compose and take a photograph. Set your stopwatch for another five minutes and start walking. When the time is up, stop and, within a minute take and compose your second photo. Keep going until you have walked for 45 minutes and have nine photos.
So, the nine photos…
I freely admit that these photographs are not my finest work. I put it down to my general excitement of actually being out of the house!
Spring seems to be coming early this season – particularly given that we are only just past the Winter Solstice… Someone has forgotten to tell the daffodils, crocuses (or croci) and this forsythia…
The worst photo of the bunch by far… This was a definite hit-and-run shot, and that shows in its blurriness. There were people walking towards me, and I didn’t want to offend the person whose front door this was!
Ahem… Moving on, then…
I couldn’t take photos during the festive season without a nativity scene of some sort… I am not sure exactly what sort of nativity scene this is, though… Angel Gabriel looks a little misshapen…
A bit further down the road, and the crest above the door to another of the churches in Glastonbury. The insignia is that of Richard Bere, a 16th century abbot from the nearby Abbey.
It has been a particularly damp winter so far, with clear days interspersed with others of consistent rain or torrential downpours. Water, therefore, had to feature!
Picture six, and something a bit more abstract. Walking along, my eye was initially caught by the lettering, but the discarded bottle top added a nice additional dimension to the shot.
Glastonbury is not a large town, and the countryside is never too far away.
Walking along the main road, houses lie to one side, while Wearyall Hill is on the other. (Usually with a lot more sheep on it…)
It was a drab Boxing Day, as I have alluded to, and, on a day when the light didn’t exactly help the photographer, a brown-leafed hedge seemed to sum up the possibilities available..
Last of the nine photos, then, and another expanse of countryside. I am extremely lucky to live where I do, where are amenities are readily to hand, while nature and countryside are just a hop, skip and a jump away…
Click on the links below to see my previous 9-in-45 walks: