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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A walk to unclutter the mind

I often set off on walks with no clear idea of the destination until I arrive, but this time I knew where I was going. The weather was dull and dismal as I set out.
Frustratingly I can no longer manage my brisk gait of old, aching and stiff joints dictate a slower pace nowadays, but I get there in the end.
Arriving at the river I am met by this squadron of geese who look as though they are getting into formation for take off!

I follow the river, on my way crossing this geometrically pleasing bridge

Then over the locks and sluices
 
Then along quiet tracks ....
 
...and lonely lanes

I reach the outskirts of the village
 
The village has many interesting houses and features
 
Down the ages the village has been blessed with a strong sense of community and altruism. In the 1790's Sarah Nowell was the lady of the manor. She took it upon herself to teach the poor children of the village, her idea was to give the children better prospects for employment as they came of age. Sarah Nowell drew up rules and conditions for a charity, the idea being to provide for a school mistress to teach reading, spinning and knitting, to provide premises where classes could be held and to buy clothing for the children. Rooms were found in a cottage to be used as classrooms for the children. Sarah died in November 1800, in 1822 the charity trustees decided to build a schoolhouse, it was to be called "Mrs Sarah Nowell's School".
To read better the plaque above the door... 
 
A little further along the village we come to the Church Hall, it housed the parochial school from 1838 and the Nowell school from 1853. In 1961 it closed as a school.
The plaques above the doors
 
In 1999 the only village shop closed, such is the spirit of the local community that it was re-launched as "Iffley Community Shop". The shop is run entirely by volunteers for the benefit of the Iffley residents.
 
In the 1980's Iffley Glebe was in danger of being developed. The ever resourceful villagers fought hard and long to make sure the Glebe would be protected. In 1996 the generosity of the local people and especially the Critchley family enabled the Oxford Preservation Trust to acquire the Iffley Glebe.
 
But to my reason for coming to this delightful place, why it is to visit the Church of St Mary the Virgin, for it is here I come when life's problems are getting me down. During the day the church doors are always open, so I sit in one of the pews and unclutter my mind.
 
I came out of the church to find the weather had changed and the sun is shining.
 
The church was built in the 12th century, probably 1170's by the lord of the manor Robert de.S Remy. The S. Remy family originated from northwest Normandy.
 
Inside the church I found mention of more benefactors to the poor
 
 On the north wall inside the church is this 13th century carving of the Lamb of God. This was the original head on the churchyard cross. It was found buried in the Rectory garden around 1960 and taken into the church.
 
The churchyard cross. In 1858 a new carving to replace the Lamb of God was set on the shaft of the cross.
 
In the 13th century for nine years an anchoress called Annora lived in a cell adjoined to the church. Her story would take too long to tell here, but it's worth telling. Perhaps some other time when the mood takes me.
 
I walk home with a lighter heart than when I set out. Near to home I pass this bungalow and hope that the person delivering letters understands French!
 The sign on the bungalow wall
 
I found  interesting information on Iffley, but it must be remembered it was written in 1955. It can be read here.

3 comments:

Shammickite said...

Iffley looks like a lovely place to take a walk. Nice that you have such a lovely area to visit withing the city of Oxford, and within an easy walk. There is so much history tucked away in those small village areas, and I really like the thatched school building. I`m assuming it is no longer a school. Love the geese.

Marie Pretty Smith said...

I accompanied you on your walk via your blog. I imagine stress disappearing as I meander through the village, observing the historical reminders all around. Beautifully done!

Sherlock Watson said...

I am moved by your most impressive prose.