BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘Meynell Ingram’

#365daysofbiking Watchers of the night

Sunday 9th January 2022 – I’ve been riding with Pickle, my 15 year old niece, for years now, as followers of my social media will know. She was always reluctant to share her images and thoughts on this journal, which she steadfastly considered to be solely my preserve. Now she’s older, we’ve debated the matter, and she’s now content to take part – after all, she shares the same enthusiasm for the places we visit and all that they contain that I had at her age, that hopefully I’ve conveyed to readers over the last decade. Sharing this passion with a youngster is contagious, and renews my fascination – not just for the places, but for cycling and life in general. Now I’m getting older, this isn’t a moment too soon.

But also being a teenager, Pickle has a full social schedule and it wasn’t until quite late on Sunday that she was free to head out. She has a new camera at the moment, and she was keen to exploit the low light features, and try out some techniques she’d read about in her continual perusal of photography forums and the device’s manual.

We needed a place that had a good atmosphere at dusk, and was within an achievable distance. I recalled that Hoar Cross church is lit at night, and the Needwood Valley it overlooks can be magical at any time of day, but especially in twilight. I thought if we headed up through Lichfield, Sittles, Croxall, Walton on Trent, then wound up through Barton, we might just hit Dunstall at the golden hour, then over Scotch Hills to Jacksons Bank and Hoar Cross by sunset.

The ride was fast, but the countryside and lanes absolutely sodden. The weather was clear and chilly, which aided in holding off twilight. Sadly, the golden hour wasn’t really happening, and the sunset had more important things to do too; but as the lass reflected, this wasn’t that kind of day.

At Dunstall Hall – a place that’s seen a number of uses in recent years – it was interesting to see the deer in the gardens before the house, and that gorgeous church on the rolling hillside was as captivating as ever. But we had another church in our sights, and we got there on time.

Hoar Cross church of The Holy Angels is without doubt, one of the finest churches in Staffordshire, if not England. Sat in the middle of nowhere next to Hoar Cross Hall, seat of the Meynell Ingram family, it sits on a ridge above the Needwood Valley. It is absolutely stunning, was erected as a memorial to Lady Meynell Ingram’s husband, killed in a hunting accident in 1871, although like all great Victorian tragic legends, some of this is disputed.

My memory was correct and the church is lit at night by a very orange sodium light that really highlights the stonework of this remarkable building beautifully – but not only that, it picks out the angels watching over the slain hunter’s grave in a most remarkable way. We took lots of photos here, and listened to the owls unseen in the trees seemingly having a dispute. The atmosphere was amazing, and experiencing nightfall here was truly magical.

It was getting increasingly cold and we were hungry, so rode back – not on our usual Hadley End – Morrey – A515 route, but I wanted to find the keen photographer some alternate subjects on the way – so we turned southwestwards and through Rough Park, the Ridwares and Handsacre, where we took a photo break on that remarkable old bridge, redundant but resplendent, still adjacent to it’s modern replacement carrying the main road over the Trent.

Here, the lights of the Armitage Shanks factory and Rugeley really made for a good muse, but neither of us can yet atone to the view without Rugeley Power Station. A sad loss, something I never would have thought of myself saying 20 years ago.

We returned home up past Grand Lodge, Goosemoor Green and Fulfen, cutting across Chasetown to Chasewater, where Pickle had something she really, really wanted to try: I think you’ll agree her starry night shots are stunning.

A 53 miler on a surprisingly cold day in quite challenging road conditions: But a good ride nonetheless, and some great photos. Always good of the soul.

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#365daysofbiking Rising again

February 23rd – It’s not often there’s good news to share on pubs here, I normally note their closing but seldom their re-opening.

I had noted the sad state of the Meynell-Ingram Arms at Hoar Cross more than once, after its sudden closure in 2014. I genuinely thought it would never open again.

This charming old country pub was in it’s day a decent place and could, I think, be a great destination for a decent rural pint and a meal. It’s great that it’s being refurbished and revitalised.

You can find out more here on the website.

I wish the new owners the very best in their new venture.

This journal is moving home. Please find out more by clicking here.

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July 2nd – Out on a long ride I was sad to note that the Meynell Ingram Arms in Hoar Cross – refurbished at huge cost after a previous closure – is still empty and gently decaying.

I thought it had closed relatively recently, but it closed without explanation in 2014, and has been vacant ever since. The last refurbishment was extensive, and must have cost a lot: outdoor ‘dining pods’ and other gimmicks apparently failed to pull the punters when perhaps more concentration on service and quality would have been more beneficial. A look at Tripadvisor is informative.

The establishment has had a chequered history and it’s current ownership and any plans for it are unknown.

This is a lovely country pub in a beautiful valley that would make an ideal real ale house with decent, basic food, and it’s so sad it can’t find an owner who loves it.

A real shame.

June 17th – From Amerton, I went for a long afternoon and evening ride around old haunts; Drointon, Blithfield, Newborough, Hoar Cross, Woodmill. A lovely ride, gorgeous golden hour on one of the warmest, most beautiful days of the year.

Newborough’s elegant, Francophile church is one of the finest in the UK, and certainly gives Staffordshire’s other gem, Clifton Campville a run for it’s money.

So sad to see the Meynell Ingram pub at Hoar Cross is still closed. That could be such a good pub in the right hands.