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Get to know A Bit About Britain - an idiosyncratic view of places to visit in Britain, British history - and stuff. Warts and all. Where shall we go today?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Grow your blog

There’s a great blog with the wonderfully optimistic name of “2 Bags Full”.  It’s run by a lovely lady called Vicki, who hosts an annual Grow Your Blog Party.  It is rumoured that over 400 bloggers attend this event.  So it’s a massive networking opportunity in the ether and, obviously, I’d really like to be there.  I’ve prepared a bit of an introduction for anyone that I meet…

Regular visitors to A Bit About Britain don’t need to read this; anyway, you’re making me nervous.

Hi, I’m Mike.
With a tagline of “Where shall we go today?” A Bit About Britain is a blog that aims to inspire residents and visitors alike with stories about and places of interest in England, Scotland and Wales.  There’s a strong leaning toward history and heritage attractions, but countryside and items of a quirky nature are included too.  Occasionally, A Bit About Britain will have a rant about something; the style is decidedly idiosyncratic and often tongue in cheek.  Don't take it too seriously.

There’s more on the pages above – particularly ‘About’ and ‘FAQ’.  But have an explore by clicking on the labels in the sidebar, below, and see what you think.  You will find a bit about (hover your mouse over the pictures for an explanation):

Brooding, romantic, castles…

Caerlaverock, Dumfies, Galloway, Natterjack, Visit Scotland

Or just a bit of romance…

Brief Encounter, Carnforth, Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson

Magnificent cathedrals…

Ely, cathedral, Ship of the Fens, Cambridgeshire

Abandoned abbeys…

Fountains, Abbey, North Yorkshire

Historic houses…

Uppark, houses to visit, Sussex

Peaceful parish churches…

Ashby St Ledgers, church, St Leodegarius, Gunpowder Plot


Ponies, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Literary roots…

Lorna Doone, RD Blackmore, Exmoor.

Bloody battles…

Heavenfield, battlefield, Northumbria

The expected…

Life Guards, Lord Mayor's Show, London

The unexpected…

Postumus, Verulamium, St Albans

If you like what you see, please become a follower on Google Friend Connect – it’s free (and, really, what can you get for free, these days?).  You will also find A Bit About Britain on Google+ and Facebook (though I don’t pretend to understand either of them).

And, don’t forget to check out Vicki’s blog post about Grow Your Blog, if you haven’t already done so.  Here you will find links to I don’t know how many talented people all over the world, who manage to make beautiful things and take astonishing photographs.


Sunday, 1 February 2015

St Cyriac and the tour party

St Cyriac's, church, Lacock, Wiltshire

Had I led a better life, perhaps spending more time with saints than sinners, maybe I would have heard of St Cyriac before stumbling ignorantly into his church in Lacock.  For the benefit of anyone else who has somehow managed to cope so far without this knowledge - and I’m sure there’s at least one of you - St Cyriac was (allegedly) a 3-year old boy who lived in the 4th century.  His mother, Julitta, was horribly tortured and executed for her Christian faith in Tarsus, in the Roman province of Silicia (modern Turkey).  Making the best of various accounts I have seen, little Cyriac was sitting on the governor’s knee and scratched the governor’s face, whereupon the latter leapt up and threw the infant to the marble floor with such force that it killed the poor child outright.

St Cyriac's, Lacock, church, Wiltshire

There is at least one other St Cyriac, or Cyriacus, who was beheaded on the orders of the Emperor Maximian and who had a reputation for being good at performing exorcisms.  The stories seem to get terribly mixed up, but it is the young lad who is traditionally venerated at Lacock.  You don’t get too many Cyriacs in Britain – there’s one each in Cambridge, Devon and Cornwall; and this one in Wiltshire.

St Cyriac, boy saint, Lacock, church, Wiltshire

Now, I would never wish to denigrate these people and their undeserved appalling ends, assuming they actually existed.  But you have to question how seriously you should take a religion that turns a 3-year old child into a saint.  We can, however, be encouraged that the Holy Church (apparently) never officially recognised the cult figure of St Guinefort, a 13th century dog who was also killed in tragic circumstances.  Who said the Reformation was a wholly Bad Thing..?

St Cyriac's, nave, Lacock, Wiltshire

But, anyway, this is the handsome church of St Cyriac which has served the comfortable community of Lacock since I don’t know when – and still does.  Probably built on the site of an Anglo-Saxon predecessor, the church has a Norman foundation but is largely 14th and 15th century, with a 17th century spire and restoration work dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.  In short, and not untypically, it has a little bit of everything.  Its large size and relative grandeur are due to the relative wealth of the parish, at one time reliant on a profitable wool trade.  In 2013, the church sold its ‘Lacock Cup’, a superb silver drinking goblet dated to around 1429, to the British Museum for £1.3 million; the cash will help with the high costs of maintaining a building like St Cyriac’s.

Sharington, memorial, St Cyriac's, church, Lacock, Wiltshire

The church has some wonderful features, not least the Lady Chapel and the memorial to Sir William Sharington, who purchased the adjacent Lacock Abbey in 1540.  Both retain what look like original paintwork; can you imagine what these things must have looked like when they were freshly done?  Other memorials adorn the walls, including one to Charles Edwin Awdry, who I was disappointed to discover was nothing to do with the Reverend W Awdry who wrote ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’, but was nonetheless a cricketer of some repute.  The church is also famous for its gargoyles.

Lady Chapel, ceiling, St Cyriac's, Lacock, Wiltshire

Our visit was disturbed by the arrival of about 500 people on some sort of guided tour, whose leader started to regale his flock with quite the strangest version of the history of the English Reformation I have ever heard.  Where do they find these idiots?  It irritates me that these people presumably paid good money to be told a load of codswallop by this blathering pompous fool.  Mind you, they were a rude lot themselves, so maybe they deserved it.  Battered by bags, pushed into pews and threatened with 5 foot long camera lenses, it was time to leave.  Outside, I waited behind a gravestone until Il Duce passed, threw a sack over his head, kidnapped him and left him on a remote rocky outcrop in the middle of the Atlantic where he couldn’t do any more harm.

Medieval carving, St Cyriac's, church, Lacock, Wiltshire.

After that, we went off to explore the rest of the charming village of Lacock.

Visit InSPIREd Sunday to see other places of worship from around the world.