Tag Archives: People

100 War Grave Stories

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One hundred tales of the fallen of World War One.

One hundred tales of pandemics, battlefield wounds, accidental shootings, car crashes, drownings, suicides, tram accidents and plane crashes.

One hundred tales of soldiers, sailors, airmen and nursing staff, from the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa and the West Indies.

One hundred stories behind the names on the gravestones.

Let their stories not be forgotten.

Learn more at the CKPonderingsCWG blog.


Grudging

There is no point in holding a grudge.

Negative thoughts and emotions do nothing but drain energy from you.

Understand the reasons behind someone’s actions will help ease the tension – you don’t have to agree with those reasons.

Everyone is different, and you don’t have to get on with everybody all of the time.


A-Z of Somerset: Stanton Drew

S is for Stanton Drew

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.


A-Z of Somerset: Rodney Stoke

R is for Rodney Stoke

At the foothills of the Mendips, on the main road between Wells and Weston-super-Mare, lies the quiet, unassuming village of Rodney Stoke. Owned by a number of families over the years, Stoches (old English for ‘settlement’) has been known as Stoke Whiting, Stoke Giffard and Stoke Rodney over the years, before the name settled on Rodney Stoke.

With a population of close to 1,500 people, you would expect the village to be a bustling affair, but settled as it is – along three lanes leading downhill from the A371 – it has an altogether quieter feel about it.


The lanes are lined with cottages built for former farm workers. Some former outbuildings have been converted into newer residences while other parts of the village are much newer properties, albeit still in keeping with the history of the village.

At the bottom of Stoke Street lies a farm, while the former manor house stands proud above the surrounding fields.


The parish church – St Leonard’s – is, unsurprisingly, place next to the manor house and, while hidden from most of the village, it can be clearly seen on the skyline from the south, standing tall and proud against the dramatic escarpment of the Mendips.

Normally, when I visit the local villages, I spent time in the churchyard looking for Commonwealth War Graves. However, Rodney Stoke stands out as one of the county’s Thankful Villages.

Fifty-three parishes in England and Wales are commemorated as having sent servicemen to war between 1914 and 1918, all of whom returned at the end of the conflict. These Thankful Villages stand out, particularly given that there are tens of thousands of towns and villages across the country.

Somerset has the highest number of Thankful Villages by county, with Rodney Stoke counting as one of nine. This is celebrated by a window in the church, giving thanks that “All glory be to God, whom in his tender mercy has brought again to their homes, the men and women of Rodney Stoke who took part in the Great War 1914-1919”.

(As an aside, Rodney Stoke sadly doesn’t fit into the category of being Doubly Thankful, having seen all of their service men and women return from both world wars. Four local residents – David Cooper, John Glover-Price, Denis Thayer and James Williams – perished in the 1939-1945 conflict.)


A second memorial to Rodney Stoke being thankful is situated in the Village Pound.

Since Norman times, strict controls were in place about where and when animals could graze on common land. The Pound – a walled area on the main road – was a place for straying animals to be kept until their owners paid the due fine.


As with other villages I have visited for this alphabetical journey, Rodney Stoke is definitely worth stopping by for. To the north of the village lie the Stoke and Stoke Woods Nature Reserves , and the village pub – the Rodney Stoke Inn – must also be worth a visit!


A-Z of Somerset: Queen Camel

Q is for Queen Camel

Seven miles to the north of Yeovil, lies the unusually-named village of Queen Camel. While it sits on the main A359 road, this thoroughfare dog-legs through the village, so it avoids the speeding traffic of which Othery is a victim.

The name derives from the old English word cam, meaning ‘bare rim of hills’, a word shared by the river that runs through the village. The manor of Camel was given to the crown in the late 13th century, and the name was changed to Camel Regis (“King’s Camel”). Edward I gave the area to his wife, Eleanor, and so the name Queen Camel was born.


One of the highlights of the village is Church Path, a cobbled road that leads from the centre of Queen Camel to St Barnabas’ Church.

The church itself dates from the 1300s, and, despite the main road, is surrounded by a quiet churchyard and allotments. Additional architectural elements – including an imposing porch on the south side – were added in the 19th century, as part of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The churchyard includes a gravestone to Seaman Donald Burgess, who died in the Great War, aged just 17 years old.

Details of his life can be found on the CKPonderingsCWG site, which is dedicated to those who lost their lives as a result of that conflict.


The houses in the village are all local stone, and while some are from the early 2000s, they fit in almost seamlessly with the old structures around them.

The Mildmay Arms is the village pub; again, it is reminiscent of a coaching inn, and was likely used as such at some point in its history.


Queen Camel has an undoubted village feel; with a population of less than 1000 people, there is a definite sense of community here.

A former bus stop – standing outside the Memorial Hall – now houses a mural dedicated to the village’s history, as well as a book swap station.


There is a lane in Queen Camel that is dedicated to a Grace Martin; I have not been able to find out much about her. There is someone by that name – the daughter of John and Judith Martin – baptised in St Barnabas’ Church in July 1744. Beyond that she remains a mystery.


Despite its location, Queen Camel is a peaceful place to visit; a lovely addition to the Somerset A to Z.