A change of pace: Saxon churches of the Cotswolds

Saxon Churches in the Cotswolds
10 of the best

I have been too lazy recently.  Cricket and QPR seem to have monopolised my concerns.  There are many more interesting subjects (and not just because of the Ashes drubbing being administered in Sydney currently.)

So, a more diverse set of topics must be encompassed.  Starting with, hopefully not entirely predictably, Saxon Churches on the Cotswolds.

St Michael's Church, Duntisbourne Rouse, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
St Michael’s, Duntisbourne Rouse

The Saxons had their pick of locations and as a result built their churches on some stunning sites.  The Guatemalan highlands, the Patagonian desert and the Makgadikadi pans may be more exotic, but Saxon churches have given me some spine-tingling moments.  It’s something about the “fit” of the buildings and the landscape, a sense of centuries of quiet devotion and a spooky sense of “presence.”

This sense is exaggerated in the Cotswolds by the perfection of the landscapes in which this handful of churches sit.  My Top 10:

St Michael’s Church, Duntisbourne Rouse
Church of The Holy Rood, Daglingworth
St Mary’s Church, Edgeworth
St Andrew, Miserden
St Bartholomew’s Church, Winstone
All Saints, Turkdean
Church of the Holy Rood, Ampney Crucis
St Peter’s Church, Ampney St Peter
St Mary’s Church, Bibury
St Andrew, Coln Rogers

all on a Google map, to make visiting easier.

The Cotswolds had formed part of the Kingdom of the Hwiccas, a Christian Saxon tribe in the Celtic Christian tradition.  The Hwicce, ruled from Worcester, became part of the kingdom of Mercia after the Battle of Cirencester in 628 and maintained a gradually diminishing separation of identity as control wavered between Mercia and Wessex through the formation of the English, or more properly, British, Kingdom.

Fayre’s fair

Cold Aston Fayre 2016
The Wotton Silver Band at the fabby Cold Aston Fayre

The Cold Aston Fayre was the entertainment of the day, if not the year!  With the whole village closed off you could wander slowly around all the stalls with the music of the Wotton Silver Band drifting up from the Village Green.  Cake stalls and ice cream stands and games galore.




Cold Aston Fayre 2016 stalls
Stalls galore at Cold Aston Fayre

The big winners for Family Burford were all the games.  Arthur was entranced with the “Hook-a-Duck” through which his brother and sister enabled him to amass a pile of new-old toys.  Whack-a-mole proved harder than you would have imagined (for adult and child alike).  Skittles over rough ground was a challenge for the bowlers amongst us.  Guess-the-number (of sweets) was taken very seriously indeed. We would have taken on the air rifle competition if the clamour for the ice cream stand had not intervened.


Atticus the cocker spaniel
Atticus, superdog and superfriend, now a “Veteran”!

What a lovely afternoon!  We should have taken Atty for the dog show, but as Granny B pointed out he would be a “Veteran” now. Cue mystified looks from Xandy who pointed out that Atty and he are really the same age (he was 9 on 12th July in fact: 10 months older than Xan. Dear old Sharemead Golden Shine – I forgot to get him a card! He never complains.)



Pony riding in Lower Slaughter
Alice rode her pony through the stream at Lower Slaughter last year

Brandishing the newly-won prizes in the glorious hot sun we drove down to the Slaughters to sail our new toy boats down the river where Alice once rode her pony through the water.  Boats were raced until sunk, bridges rushed, fords crossed, lakes paddled, clothes soaked and we laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.



Boat racing in Lower Slaughter
This year the Slaughters made an ideal location for serious boat racing

Alice slipped in the pond in pursuit of her boat and looked for a moment as if she might burst in to tears, but then sat laughing and laughing in the pond.  We laughed so much that we cried (well I did anyway!)




Beautiful old tree by stream at the Slaughters Inn
Arthur’s ‘mergency

Then Arthur had a ‘mergency and so a lovely couple’s wedding photos in the gardens of the Slaughters Inn may find that a number of their snaps feature a small, naked 3-year old cherub attempting to evade parental capture behind the tree….which will give their album a unique flavour!

But why not a new sport or two: golf, climbing and disco!

Alexander Burford's golf lessons at Naunton
Xan takes on some golf tuition (check out the glove!)

Feeling that really we should expand our country sporting repertoire we took on some father-and-son golf lessons at the Naunton Downs Golf Club first thing this morning.  Needless to say, son is well ahead of Dad already…




Alice Burford shimmies up apple trees as quickly as I can manage a (small) ladder
Alice has developed a complete tree gymnastics routine…

But, not to miss out, Alice decided to develop her climbing skills to full “top o’ the orchard” level with an extra special tumbling dismount that could possibly feature in the upcoming Olympics…





Arthur Burford the disco star
Arthur wins the kitchen heat of Disco Fever 2016

…and while den-building raged in the garden Arthur celebrated the indoor crowds cowering from the hot sun in fine style with a freestyle Disco Fever kitchen dancing competition (just one winner – no guesses!)





Alice Burford spends as many hours on ponies as possible
Pony hours are the best hours

Nevertheless, if in doubt there should always be a few more pony hours!!

and the den-building World Cup…

There’s a strong family belief that we have a good candidate for the World Cup of den-building!

After our golf lesson this morning, Alexander and Alice felled a dead ash tree (with a little help) in the side garden which left a 4′ stump and the heavier job of disposing of the 30′ tree and canopy. But what a den site!

The Secret Passages

View from the Aliceander Passage
Tree: felled!

Alice and I cut back the undergrowth while Alexander found “The Alexander Passage”, a carefully concealed entrance route to the den. Then Alice and Alexander simultaneously found both ends of a second secret passage down the side of the den and, after some debate, Alexander graciously agreed to name the new side-passage “The Alice-ander Passage” (or “Passage 2” for short). Thus it shall e’er be known.


Burford family members' life membership
The Burford Members’ Club Bar

After a brief cricket break (well 20 overs or so, Xan 140 for 2, let’s not dwell on the other scores…) we returned to den construction.  A canopy was secured across the top (an old maroon valance technically) and then: inspiration! We found a gap behind one of the old garden sheds and the garden wall and a thin plank.  A little sawing later and the Burford Members’ Club bar was ready to be inaugurated. A stool for the bar staff, table and chairs for members, a selection of drinks and hors d’oeuvres and we’re off to the races, shielded from the heat of the midday sun.

And even in the excitement of the club’s inauguration Alice found “Alice’s Really Secret Passage” down the back of the garden sheds. Arthur expressed himself unbothered about the various passages as long as there was a confirmation of long-term availability of cake on the Members’ bar menu.  What a morning’s work.  Even cricket training was suspended for a while…

Cricket (of course), pony riding, cycling and chilling

Alexander Burford and Alice Burford discuss menu possibilities with Granny B
Cottage Café management

The Cottage Café management (A&A) have taken over all catering arrangements leading to a greater formality for breakfast!






Alice Burford is off for a hard day's Pony Club
Alice off to Pony Club

Alice wins the Best Dressed Prize at Pony Club while still in the drive!






Alice Burford feeds Ollie the superstar Shetland
Alice and Ollie

Ollie the superstar Shetland is as cheeky and lovely as always and seems quite keen to help Alice with her lunch…





Alexander Burford cycles back from Notgrove
Alexander cycles to and from (fairly continual) cricket practice.

Of course, Xandy’s cycling opens up all manner of opportunities: taking himself up to early morning cricket training for instance…it’s so difficult to find transport at 5am in the Cotswolds.
Problem solved!






Notgrove Cricket Club - the perfect training ground for dedicated young players
The Burford All-Stars ground (Notgrove!)

A high-energy multi sport week!  Amazingly good fun….

Alice was very happy to bowl and field and run around the pitch at super-high speed.



Arthur Burford wanted to take the "little roller" home with him...
Arthur’s new car

Meanwhile Arthur could have happily spent the entire day reviewing the ‘normous tractor, although there was some archaelogical evidence that it may not have moved since the late 1950s.


However, possibly even eclipsing the cricket, riding and tractor excitements was a BONFIRE!!! Now if we had had some marshmallows our day would have been perfect. Next time…

Cotswold family break

Arthur Burford enjoys a good sleep
Arthur’s ‘normous bed.

Two weeks of country pursuits for Family Burford began with some good sleep!  Arthur would have happily spent the whole week in his ‘normous bed….





a refreshing Cotswold sleep
Meanwhile Alice fell out of bed, but seemed unbothered!

Xandy was exhausted and fell straight asleep too – and miraculously did not do his usual exercise in perpetual motion. True, Alice fell out of bed at 3:00am, but she was back in bed snoring gently again by 3:05am.