Discovering Marlborough doors

The sign says Deans Chaunterie

A while ago I came across a blog link party featuring posts about doors from all over the world. At first I thought it was a rather nerdish subject but then I became intrigued and decided to see if I could write a suitable post. The trouble was the more I looked the more difficult it became to find suitable doors. Even if the rest of the building had award winning architecture the doors seemed to be standard issue.

Last weekend however my husband and I went on a mystery coach tour. At first I was slightly disappointed to find we were heading east towards London but then we crossed into Wiltshire. The landscape of Wiltshire is very ancient. Our morning coffee stop was in Avebury home to a mysterious stone circle and  we also  drove past Silbury hill  a long barrow thought to date back to 3,700 B.C.

Marlborough

We then had a short sightseeing break in the small town of Marlborough and as I walked round I realised I would have the material for a doors post. Marlborough was mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1089. It is a small town of alleyways half timbered houses  and coaching inns with a church on either end of the high street. It  found fame as the site of a civil war battle of 1642 and then returned to being a  stop on the main road between London and Bristol. A place to change your horses and eat a meal.  Nowadays travellers often stop here on the way to Stonehenge which is only twenty miles away.

Many of the houses obviously date back to Tudor times or earlier but have been adapted to suit the needs of the modern inhabitants. I did not feel I was walking through an English heritage theme park. The houses looked lived in rather than picture postcard perfect.

The doors

A wall decoration with glasses and beard.
My husband spotted this man with his glasses and beard.

These cottages still retain a lot of their original charm but   real people who watch television live here.
I thought this narrow yellow house  looked like an illustration from a story book and if  you are wondering what sort of person might live here…  We spotted this plaque on the corner house.

A blue plaque commemorating William GoldingWilliam Golding wrote “Lord of the flies” a book about anarchic school children. He grew up in Marlborough where his father was a local school master.

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I thought the name Wren cottage suited this house.

I found the sign Dean’s chauntrie (above) further down this terrace. I had to consult a medieval online dictionary but I discovered a chauntrie was a home for chaunter clerks, priests who were hired to chant prayers for rich people who were too lazy or busy to do so themselves.

An old wooden door with a box Flat 113
This door was hidden beside a High Street shop.

This door was at the side  of one of the High Street shops. The thickness of the wood and the style of the iron work betray its age.

I only spent about half an hour in Marlborough but I very much enjoyed looking at the architecture.

We had a surprise when we found our hotel for the night was the police federation headquarters in Leatherhead but that is another anecdote.

This post has been added to a Thursday doors link party.

Bath a brief history

I was happy to find out that Bath would be the venue for our February walk in the past history walk.  I  grew up  between Bristol and Bath and my father went to school in the city so I have watched  Bath change over the years.  Jane Austen would probably recognise the centre  but there is also a side to the city the tourists miss.   It has a large student population.  Bath university is particularly well known for sport and many  athletes train there.

We met for our walk at the back of Bath bus station.  If you plan to visit Bath I suggest arriving by bus or train as parking is very difficult. There are several park and ride schemes nearby and the main bus station and train station are close to the city attractions.

Bath is the only English city to be given UNESCO  world heritage status. For the locals this is a mixed blessing. I remember when I was at University one of my history lecturers asked me if it was like living in a museum. In summer it can be difficult to move through the city because of the number of tourists but they also bring  us much prosperity.

This walk was a brief introduction to the history of Bath which we hope to explore in more detail later.  I have provided a potted version here.

The Romans

There is a Celtic legend that the hot springs at Bath were discovered by a swineherd named Bladud who found that the hot mud cured a skin disease his pigs had been suffering from. He later became a tribal leader and established a shrine in Bath to the goddess Sulla. Although there is no evidence for his existence there are a lot of iron age settlements around Bath. Bath itself is supposed to be built in the crater of an extinct volcano.

Bath guidebooks usually date the history  back to the Romans who were drawn to the hot spa water and built a magnificent Bath Complex. to enjoy it. Much of this survives or has been restored though unfortunately you can not swim there any longer. You can taste the water but be warned it tastes vile.

Another reason why we met behind the bus station is that it is close to the route of the Roman Fosseway a road between Exeter and Lincoln. Here the Romans built a bridge to cross the river Avon. As well as enjoying hot baths the Romans were attracted to the area to mine lead from the nearby Mendip hills.

The Medieval Period

After the Romans left Bath seems to have declined in importance.  However the magnificent Bath abbey was built during the medieval period. The   medieval legacy is preserved in the names of the roads, Eastgate, Southgate, Westgate and Northgate though the walls and gates have disappeared.

The Georgians

Bath markets itself as a Georgian city.  In the 18th century, Bath stone was quarried from the nearby hills to build the famous crescents.  The aristocracy would descend on Bath to take the waters or play cards.  This was vividly described by Jane Austen, perhaps Bath’s most famous resident who does not seem to have enjoyed her stay much. If you visit the assembly rooms and nearby fashion museum you can take afternoon tea and children can dress up.  You can  imagine yourself in a scene from one of her books or visit the Jane Austen centre.

A couple wearing 18th century clothing.
A couple dressed in costume for the Jane Austen festival.

During this period William Herschel who had been an organist in Bath discovered the planet Uranus. You can visit his house and see the telescopes he made.

The Royal crescent Bath is built of yellow Bath stone.
The famous Royal crescent.

Visit Bath

Pulteney Bridge was built by Sir William Pulteney close to the site of the old Roman bridge to enable development on the other side of the river.

The Modern city

Bath was linked to Reading by the Kennett and Avon canal and later Isambard Kingdom Brunel built his famous Great Western Railway between Bristol and London with a station in Bath.

Bath was badly bombed during the second world war.  It was not considered a target but the Germans carried out what became known as the Baedeker raids. They targeted cities given a high rating in the Baedeker guide books in retaliation for British bombing raids on Germany. However it has been largely rebuilt using Bath stone.

Bath has built a new spa complex where visitors can swim in the hot mineral waters just as the Romans did.

Visitors swimming in the rooftop Bath.
The new rooftop Bath at the Thermae complex. Bath abbey is in the background.

Photos for this blog post were used with permission from VisitBath

This post is linked to grammy’s grid and grandma’s briefs, both sites for blogging grandmothers who are happy to welcome new members.

If you enjoyed this post you might like two national trust houses to visit near Bath.

Monitoring the Royal Mail

When I retired I looked for some interesting part time work I could do from home. I thought a job would help me fill my time and finance my hobbies.  I found rather to my surprise several companies were happy to employ the more mature candidates.  Here is one of the ways I earn a few treats.

I have been part of the Royal Mail monitoring panel for almost two years. This is operated by Kantar TNS Research International and has been running for twenty-five years.  In exchange for posting and receiving letters and parcels I receive postage stamps and love to shop vouchers. I also get some packaging material which can be recycled. Other treats include  a diary for Christmas and a packet of chocolate  eggs for Easter. I have been lucky enough to win a £10.00  love to shop voucher in the daily draw twice.  Kantar also hide a golden smart in a parcel each month which is worth £100.00 but I have never been lucky enough to find it.

What do I have to do?

A collection of stamps showing Hermione, Harry and Ron with the Ford Anglia and the Night bus.
I received a set of Harry Potter stamps when I went live in January

All over Britain participants   send each other letters and packages.  Each one contains an electronic chip called a smart which records the progress of the item through the Royal Mail postal system.  When I am live I receive a package each week with my posting instructions. This includes various sizes of envelopes and a schedule of when to prepare and  where to send the letters. Details of letters sent and received have to be entered every day on a fairly user friendly website. About once a week I also have to go to the local post office to post a parcel.

Although it can have its downside generally I find it good to have an incentive to go for a walk or visit the local shopping centre.  Normally I spend about six months live and am then rested for six months.  During this time I can participate in other postal surveys. I did feel a bit guilty when our postman struggled through the snow with a couple of letters that I knew only contained a piece of paper and a smart recently.

If you are in the U.K. and live near a post box and can get to a post office and would like to join click here to find out more 

Kantar provide full training and I had a few weeks sending pieces of cardboard to and from their office while I  showed I was happy with what I had to do.

Have you found any unusual part time jobs? Please share in the comments below.