Five miles to the west of Taunton lies the pretty village of Milverton. With a population of nearly 1500 people, it feels like more of a town, and the size and architecture of the houses hint at this being a bustling and rich place.
As with much of Somerset, the key trade was cloth, and a silk throwing factory was set up in the village at the beginning of the 19th century, eventually employing more than 300 people.
One of Milverton’s notable residents was Thomas Young (1773–1829). He is a man who had fingers in many pies, counting a scientific understanding of vision, light, solid mechanics, energy, physiology amongst his specialisms. He is probable more notable for his interest in Egyptology, and helped translate the Rosetta Stone.
The parish church is the Church of St Michael and All Angels, set in a quite location, and raised above the surrounding houses. It is a peaceful and tranquil location, perfect for reflection and contemplation.
A number of Commonwealth War Graves lie in the graveyard, which I’ll expand on in coming posts.
For a town of its size, Milverton has the amenities you would expect; there is another church – a Wesleyan Chapel built in 1850 – a school and a lone remaining public house, The Globe. Shops are minimal, as is transport – the village’s station was another of those that feel during the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.
One surprise, however, is the village’s High Street. Doing away with what we nowadays expect, there are no shops or conveniences on it; it is literally a high street, leading up a hill away from the church.
One thing I have found, as I reach the halfway point of my alphabetical journey around Somerset is that, while generally the same, all of the places I have visited have their distinct personalities.
Milverton has just that. It is a large village, the result of its previous industrial heritage, but has slipped back to become a sleepy locale, and is all the better for it.
In the depths of western Somerset, along country roads your SatNav smirks at taking you down, lies the pretty village of Lydeard St Lawrence.
The origins of the name is shrouded in a bit of mystery, but Lydeard may translate as “grey ridge”, while St Lawrence is the saint to whom the local church is dedicated. (It is likely that St Lawrence was added to the villae name, to distinguish it from the village of Bishop’s Lydeard, just four miles down the road.)
The village has a population of 500 people, and it is very easy to find yourself in open countryside within minutes of walking from the village centre.
The Church of St Lawrence is at the top end of the village and, as with may similar religious locations, is a calm and peaceful place to stop and rest.
A plaque on the gate into the churchyard pays tribute to Lance Corporal Alan Kennington, who was serving in Northern Ireland in 1973 when he was shot and killed while on foot patrol on the Crumlin Road, Belfast. He was just 20 years old.
The church also forms the last resting place for a number of other local men who passed away in the Great War – I’ll expand on these in later posts.
Lydeard St Lawrence, is certainly a peaceful village – on its own in the depths of the Somerset countryside and sheltered by the hills it is named after, it is somewhere to get away from it all. There are no immediate amenities – the post office has been closed long enough for the building to be converted into a house – but a village hall and school are there to support the community in all things secular.
With the lockdown ongoing (at time of writing), there is a definite need to get out and about for the regulation one-a-day constitutional, and on these trips out, you can encounter endless wildlife.
One of my recent discoveries was the Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve – on deserted mornings, all you can hear is the wildlife around you, various birds chirruping and tweeting, interspersed with the occasional booming of the nesting bitterns.
The photos below are not limited to Shapwick Heath, but it provides the inspiration for the set of images.
Another opportunity to photograph my environs, while getting some exercise in at the same time.
As I’ve mentioned before, he 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.
A slow and steady start to the walk, and my aim was Cinnamon Lane, a quiet country road within spitting distance of home. As befits the current lockdown, there were few people out and about and, aside from a handful of dog walkers, I saw nobody.
The beauty of this time of year is something we have tended to overlook before – our lives have been so rushed and busy that we don’t usually get the chance to stop and look about us. If there’s one thing good to come out of the pandemic, it is that we have had no choice but to do exactly that.
But some of us have to carry on working, including those farmers who have to keep an eye on their flocks and crops, so it was no surprise to see some people at work.
The positive about the route I took for this 9-in-45 is that on the way out the road is a quiet country lane. The downside is that the way back is the main road between Shepton Mallet and Glastonbury! The A361 has always been a local bone of contention, because of the constant flow of juggernauts it ferries between the two towns and beyond. Having said that, on a Monday afternoon under Covid-19 rules it’s a lot quieter!
Despite the busyness of the road, the view from it are spectacular.
The road is the main thoroughfare in this part of Somerset and, in decades past, was prime for local businessmen to earn a penny or two. (I hasten to add that this is for show, not a true toll!!)
Be kind and keep smiling! You’re nearly there!
Back to nature, then; I’ve photographed numerous full dandelion clocks in the past, so why not a denuded one?
Last of the nine and almost full circle! The Somerset Levels make for some big skies!!
Click on the links below to see my previous 9-in-45 walks:
In this time of restrictions and “one walk per day”, what better use of that time outside than to undertake a “9-in-45”?
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…
It was a crisp, bright morning, and I had an idea of where I wanted to go. Living in Glastonbury now, I am fortunate enough to have the Tor virtually on my doorstep (as you will see, 15 minutes or so from the summit!).
Walking up to the main road, I pass the Rural Life Museum – currently closed, as with most other places at the moment. I have seen the bicycle sign on numerous occasions, and it just happened that, when my first five minutes were up, I was close enough to it to include it in my set of nine photos!
At the base of the Tor are these two stones. There are a lot of pieces of stone in and around Glastonbury – half of the town was built from pieces of the Abbey when it was dissolved in 1539. The thing that has always caught my eye, however, is the symbol on the one on the left. I think it’s military, but I’m not sure…
I will be honest, I am not as fit as I once was, or as I should be. I may well have not walked continuously between taking the 09:04 photo and the one above… In my defence, however, the Tor is blooming steep, and it’s only fair that I sat down on a handy bench on the way up the climb…
A fair proportion of the planet may be in lock down, but here in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring is continuing unabated… This shot, of some cherry blossom, turned out better than I thought immediately after taking the photo. (I had intended a smaller aperture, but when I had taken the shot, I realised the camera was set to f/8. However, the depth of focus turned out to be pretty much what I was aiming for!)
Right, I’d better continue my climb, then…
Mr C’s strict rules state that selfies should not be included in the 9-in-45, but halfway up the Tor, my options were limited. I wanted to avoid the bulk standard countryside views, but the sun was still fairly low in the sky and my shadow was too good an opportunity to miss!
In recent weeks, the summit of the Tor has been distinctly devoid of visitors (a combination of isolation and the weather). However, at other times – at the height of the tourist season or on pagan celebratory days – it can be teeming with people.
I will be honest, I prefer it quiet. With its 360° view of the levels, it is an ideal space for reflection and meditation, as you can see!
I awarded myself a five minute sit down before moving on, but the 9-in-45 had to continue unabated. The image of perfect calm belies the fact that is was blowing an icy gale and, to be honest, I was more than happy to start moving again!
Unsurprisingly, while it took nearly 20 minutes to climb the Tor, it only took five to walk back down again!
At the base of the hill, in a sheltered, sunny location, is the Avalon Orchard. Another place for reflection and contemplation, these old fruit trees hold decades of history in their gnarled and twisted branches.
Rather than a wide shot of trees, I thought I would close in tighter, and this fungus caught my eye as soon as the timer on my phone alerted me to the end of the the next five-minute window.
Time for the money shot, then; I’ve talked a lot about the Tor, but not had a photo of it yet!
The wind may still be fresh, but the sun has been in full attendance over the last few days, so one final shot to show that spring has definitely sprung!
The photos and the route in more detail:
I have completed the 9-in-45 project a number of times now – click on the links below to see the results:
First in a potential series, delving back into the CKPonderings Archives…
Pretty sure I have not shared these in a blog before, but here are some images from a trip to Kenya over a decade ago, and some of the fauna we came across while ‘on safari’.
While I was preparing this post, I realise it has been ages since I last looked at these images. That’s the downside of photos being stored online nowadays, I guess! There are some I am particularly proud of (ones which, because of that, I have posted before, and so have not included here), but I am happy with all of these. They show not only the beautiful creatures we can encounter in this world, but also their natural habitat.
It’s time to get those cameras ready for this month’s Mass Observation Project on CKPonderingsToo!
The theme for March is Change and you are free to interpret that theme photographically in any way you like.
It’s really simple to take part. If you’re interested, just:
Take a photo that represents the Change to you
Photos should be a maximum of 650 pixels in height and/or width
Email the image to email@example.com
Include your name and location and a short note about the photograph