If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday 16 January 2012

Picked clean

Today, I was on the day shift. Work was quiet and, unusually, we had more people on duty than were necessary. So I took myself off on a couple of long foot patrols. Away from the seething resentment at the office and into the cold but fresh January day. The sky was a clean duck-egg blue and the air was sharp and bitter.

There are parts of the site where I work which, although I have worked here for nearly four years, I had never seen. I decided to put that right. How long might I still have the chance? I walked for half an hour towards a distant corner of the site and crossed a field ready ploughed for a new stand of trees. I was out of radio range and no-one knew where I was. I liked that.

Click for embiggeration.

In some neglected woodland nearby there is a mediæval manor house. The woods are steadily encroaching, and have been since it was abandoned in the C17. It's hard to get to, as there are no roads or even proper pathways nearby, and I got proper muddy. The upside of that was that no-one had thought to surround it with chain-link fence and festoon it with Keep Out signs. It's just there, for anyone who cares to look. I spent a while in and around it, just soaking up the atmosphere.

There is a woodland ride nearby. Well, maybe not a ride: just a wide passage through the trees and undergrowth that has clearly been a major route passing the manor house at some time in the past. Plenty of delicate fallen twigs and dry leaves - and totally undisturbed by human footfall. It was eerily quiet and magically lonely.

And then I found the skull of a fox.

I left it there.


  1. Shades of Kipling's 'Way throught the woods' - conscious or unconcious?

    Loved the post anyway.

    They shut the road through the woods
    Seventy years ago.
    Weather and rain have undone it again,
    And now you would never know
    There was once a road through the woods
    Before they planted the trees.
    It is underneath the coppice and heath,
    And the thin anemones.

    1. Unconscious, but one of my favourites in any case.

      There are several 'old', almost-vanished roads near where I live, and they fascinate me. When get some time (that is, if I ever retire) I will make a study of them.

      "But there is no way through the woods ..."

  2. Lovely.

    Have you ever thought about going in to estate management or estate sales? I have a clear vision of you striding about in wellies and a Barbour, saying knowledgable things about hectares and yields.

    1. Great idea, but unfortunately not backed up by any serious knowledge. I can do the striding about, but not the knowledgeable thing. But I do stride well, I have to say.

  3. What a great old manor house, and so close to your work. It beats working in the hubbub of downtown like I do.

    Great pictures, thanks for sharing.

    1. It's a great place to work, I have to say. I haven't worked in the city for many years, and don't miss it at all.

  4. Very interesting. I wonder why, what is a serious house, was abandoned. It would likely have had a fair few wooden hovels for the 'workers' etc round it. Did plague get that far west?

    Or perhaps it was built by some over-ambitious mediæval person who believed them when they told him 'it's the end of boom and bust'.

    1. It was built in the 14C (possibly a wooden structure) and added to and rebuilt over the years. Owned by local bigwigs who seem to have traded it between them as power and influence changed hands. It was the main landowner's residence for about three parishes and I have no doubt there were settlements around which have vanished. It was abandoned about 1670, although I am not sure why. No mention of plague, though. Probably just a change in the power structure. Or the gutters got blocked and the Lord of the Manor couldn't be arsed to get the ladder out.


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