BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘gothic’

#365daysofbiking Eccentricities

December 23rd – It’s now traditional for me to have a day out somewhere different before Christmas. Today I visited Ashbourne, a place I’ve passed through lots but rarely stopped and studied.

The architecture and frantic air of business was fantastic, but what I really liked was the small, eccentric details: St Oswald’s Church with the afterthought clock and gothic gateposts with the skull detail. The Art Nouveaux staircase in the entry to an outdoor shop.

This little, but very dense valley town is utterly gorgeous. I must return at a more relaxed time.

Oh, and the cycling content? I test rode a new bike while I was here. Wel, a couple actually but that’s another story…

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February 20th – When one talks about the excellent architecture in Darlaston, it’s easy to convey the impression that interesting and beautiful buildings are confined to a small area in the town centre around Victoria Park. While there are many fine examples there, the sheer joy of this wonderful place is that there are fine buildings waiting to be discovered all over the place, and this is really the story of not just Darlaston, but the wider Black Country, too, which hides many of its finest gems under its bushel.

This fine old townhouse – now bedsits I think – has the most remarkable circular ‘tower’ bay with conical roof and gorgeous gables. Everything about it is perfect, from chimneys to lintels, and it sits in a nondescript, unremarkable location on the Walsall Road.

Everywhere you turn, there’s another wonderful building.

January 5th – It was a thoroughly horrid afternoon. Windy, wet, dark. I went out with a heavy heart, and didn’t find much of interest in the immediate area, so I spun out to Shenstone down the very wet and muddy backlanes.

Visiting the church, I was again reminded what a gothic, ugly edifice it is. I’ve never liked it; it’s a perfectly competent architectural design, it’s just not to my taste. I find the dark grey sandstone, and heavy Victoriana dismal. Even the gargoyles look desperately unhappy.

Compare St. Johns, Shenstone with any other local church, say Hopwas. Hopwas is a place you’d feel happy to give praise in, to wed, to christen; Shenstone looks like a place to go and endure, repent and suffer – it’s full of foreboding.

More interesting to me is the old tower in the churchyard; crumbling, it’s the remains of an earlier church. Perhaps it would have been better left.

Down in the village,I headed to the Lammas Land – a strip of parkland along the Footherley Brook. On the way, I passed The Plough In, busy, bright, inviting. Newly reopened, it’s good to see. It had been derelict for a few years.

September 7th – It had been a gruelling week. In Leicester for most of it, I’d had enough. The weather had been great, and I’d missed it by being holed up indoors all week. I escaped early on Friday afternoon, and endured a sleepy commute home on hot, sweaty trains. At Shenstone, I emerged in fresh air and sunshine, and immediately headed up Church Hill to the churchyard. I love Shenstone Churchyard, it’s overgrown air of neglect and nature’s reclamation softens a church whose dark, Victorian gothic I’ve never been fond of. It’s a peaceful place, and although I don’t like the church, I admire it and it’s bold architectural ambition, replete with vulgar gargoyles. I felt relaxed, already.

October 22nd – I’ve noticed this tower and chapel lots of times as I’ve sped downhill through Rugeley, but only ever stopped to investigate today. I was always vaguely intrigued by the fact that it sat opposite the parish church, on the other side of the road, yet appeared to be the remnants of a church itself. The structure is sat in Rugeley Cemetery, which I’d not noticed before, and I assume it’s a chapel of rest. The tower itself has gothic touches and gargoyles redolent of that other Victorian Gothic tour de force, Shenstone Church. I must look into the history further…