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A walk through the past by Kate Hardy

Last time I was here, I was whinging about having a Very Significant Birthday.

Actually, I had a ball. I made it last from the week before my birthday until about four weeks after. Lots of little parties – afternoon tea, lunch, drinks, and of course the big family lunch party. (And look at my cake! This is just so awesome. My friend is an amazing sugar artist and these irises are so delicate.) (Cough – we all know I go by two names. Kate’s work. Pam’s family.)


My nearest and dearest contributed money towards my birthday present – a new camera.

And I was utterly thrilled at the definition I could get of the moon. (This is a hand-held shot. On my old camera, it would’ve been a blob with fuzzy edges. Notice the craters.)

2016 march moon.JPG

And y’know you have to test these things out. (It’ll be put through its paces at a gig this weekend, when I go to see Muse, and I am SO EXCITED about that. But that’s another story.)

Now, one of my passions (yes, apart from cake and the gym and music and dancing) is history. I live in a part of the world where there are nearly a thousand medieval churches (some in ruins, but most still working). And if it’s a nice afternoon at the weekend, my DH and I sometimes sneak off to do some church-crawling – basically looking at the architecture. Sometimes it’s glass, sometimes it’s brasses, sometimes it’s incredible carved bench ends, and sometimes it’s something very obscure indeed…

So here are some shots from our last trip.

This is a carved bench end of an elephant and castle from Thurgarton church. The definition is amazing.

2016 march thurgarton elephant.JPG


And a brass from Thwaite – roughly dated 1472.

2016 march brass thwaite.JPG

At Heydon, there’s something really unusual – a bit of a crusader shield. It’s painted with the cross of St George – and apparently it was actually used during the Crusades. (This was a bit blurry because I was experimenting!)

2016 march heydon shield.jpg


But for me some of the most poignant things were at Sheringham. There are several 15th-century carved bench ends; one commemorates the legend of a mermaid who was apparently thrown out of a service by the vicar as someone who shouldn’t be in the church (which is half a mile away from the sea, up a hill – our poor mermaid must have suffered getting there!). (And anyone who’s read my ‘Crown Prince, Pregnant Bride’ – this is what sparked the mermaid window.)

2016 march mermaid sheringham.JPG

Then there’s a cat carrying one of her kittens.

2016 march cat sheringham.JPG

And the Chrysom child – a baby wrapped in swaddling bands (specifically for baptism). I found this really moving.

2016 march chrysom sheringham.JPG

And there’s a lovely brass, too – I adore the kennel headdress!

2016 march sheringham brass.JPG

Do you come from an area with such rich architectural heritage? Where’s your favourite place?




9 thoughts on “A walk through the past by Kate Hardy”

  1. Hi Kate

    WOW what amazing photos they really are beautiful I live in the suburbs of Sydney and around The Rocks in the City there are some really old churches and buildings from the first settlement 1788 Hubby and I have done a bit of a tour there many years ago and it was so interesting need to do it again I think.

    Have Fun

  2. My hometown in Wisconsin was founded in the 1840’s, so not so old, My favorite place there was my high school, the main building was built in 1860 and was the home of Wisconsin’s first governor. He left it to the Episcopalian church when he died, and it was developed into a girl’s
    boarding school, graduating it’s first class in 1874. The last building addition was in the 1920’s. The school is closed now, and it is owned by the county government and run as a meeting and convention center, and the chapel is used for weddings. My sister was the last graduate in 1975. I love those old building with their creaky worn floors.
    In 1979 I was able to visit London and the Kent areas, and was thrilled to see places I had only heard of in history books, and stand in some of those hallowed places like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. That’s when I realized that my part of the world was really pretty modern. I just wish digital photography had been invented back then….the few pictures I took with my cheap little camera are blurry and faded. One day I’ll get back and take a million pictures!
    You can visit my “old” school at http://www.Kempercenter.com
    PS: Happy Birthday!

    1. Laurie, I lived in Madison for three years 🙂 I’ve set four books in the north woods of Wisconsin, including Boomerang Bride. What a gorgeous building . Thanks for the link.

  3. Hello Kate, very beautiful your photos. I being Italian I live in a country very rich architectural areas.
    I do not have a favorite, but I have visited several castles, museums and churches that were full of antique and architectural finds. But a church impressed me a lot and it is a Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi in Umbria (Italy), where he lived for several years.

  4. Oz doesn’t have the age of buildings that you guys have in the UK – part of the reason I love visiting your shores so much. Of course we have many places sacred to our indigenous people that are tens of thousands of years old!

    One of the things that always fascinates me – and its not very grand at all I’m afriad – are cobblestoned streets and the steps in castles/old buildings. I guess they’re just there and no-one ever really notices them but they’re so old and worn and I love imagining how many people have walked on them before me. I like the connection that gives me to people from long ago.

  5. Me, too, Amy. We live near Orford Castle (well, 15 or so miles away) and the old stone spiral stairs are worn down into hollows on the centre of the treads. All those feet – and whose? What kind of life did they lead? Fascinating.

    And Kate, while you’re out and about in Norfolk churches, have a look at Weston Longville, the old parish of one of my ancestors, James Woodforde, who wrote the Diary of a Country Parson. Lovely old church, with a small area dedicated to his history which I found fascinating. Most of his diary is a record of what he’s eaten that day. And I wondered where I got it from…!

    Beautiful photo of the moon, by the way. Fabulous detail. Thanks for sharing – and for sharing the cake! Delish, and well as pretty!

  6. OMG, Kate/Pam! What a gorgeous cake. I’m so glad you got that camera for your birthday, so we can all reap the rewards of your wonderful pictures. You are lucky to live in such rich historical settings. I live in a fairly new place in comparison, California, but there is a rich history of missions throughout many of our cities here, plus we have the wild west influence etc. Also, the Native American influence is strong in these parts. But you are blessed to live in England with such well-kept cathedrals etc.
    Keep those pictures coming!

  7. So glad you had a wonderful, extended birthday celebration! That cake is just beautiful.

    Alas, we live in Ohio, in the midwest, which doesn’t have the same depth of history as the UK. Our ‘old’ buildings date only to the 1800s, but the architecture is still interesting. My mother’s family was proud that her grandfather and several uncles (who emigrated from the UK around 1920) were masons who worked on what was the tallest skyscraper here for many years, and that they used cast-offs of the terra cotta on that building to surround the fireplaces in their homes.

    But we do have a fascinating history of Native Americans who lived here, and also passed through to gather flint from an area nearby that’s still rich with it. It’s not unusual to find an arrowhead in recently plowed up earth, if you look hard for them 🙂

    I absolutely love your photos of the church benches – so wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

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