Monday, 27 September 2010

Village Houses

After the strenuous work of answering Bonnie's very personal questions and reading your, frankly, very frank replies and comments, I need time off from raving and ranting; a gentle walk through the village streets is just what the doctor ordered. There is a very busy week ahead - I'll tell you about it later, whether you want to know it or not - isn't that what we bloggers do? - but for now I'll show you where I live.

This is an ancient village, to the 'real' locals, families who have lived in these hills for generations, not relative newcomers, or 'people from off' like us, it is a town, in spite of only boasting 900 souls, a number which includes people living in the surrounding hamlets; it is a town because it has a town hall. In the days before public transport and private cars, when farmers took their produce to market by horse drawn carriage, Valley's End was a flourishing market town. From miles around farm labourers, farmers, and their wives and children came to Valley's End, which had a school, the big church, many pubs, and a great variety of shops from drapers, tailors, shoe shops and cobblers, hardware stores, seed merchants, to grocers, butchers, and bakers and probably even a candlestick maker. People simply lived very simple lives centred on small communities.

Many houses are built from local stone. In fact, once the Lord of the Manor had left his Castle, the local population promptly helped themselves to the fallen masonry from the crumbling building. Half of the houses in Valley's End owe their picturesque exterior to building materials 'found lying around'. This was all centuries ago, of course, nowadays the reclaimers would get there first.

The other predominant building material is red brick, as seen here in these wonderful 17th century chimneys.

Farming was thirsty work. Farmers and their labourers. the craftsmen living in the town, the blacksmith and his helpers, the stallholders in the market, shopkeepers and civic dignitaries needed regular lubrication and on market days, special days and holidays, the pubs in Valley's End were busy. Now there are just three left; and one of them is closed 'for permanent refurbishment'.

This is one of he lucky survivors. It even has a few bedrooms for hire.

Tiny Valley's End did not only possess many pubs but also a number of churches. There was the big church, dating back nearly a thousand years, with a few anglo-saxon remnants still visible today. But there are two other chapels, the Methodist Chapel and this tiny chapel which is part of the almshouses built in 1614 to provide charitable accommodation for twelve old men of good character.

The last house is a relatively new house, hidden in its pretty garden and sheltered by some very ancient trees, which were planted long before this house was even thought of;  to this house I now turn my steps, because this is where I live.


  1. You surely live in an English storybook! So beautiful. All those old stones must be whispering secrets when it rains. Oh, and you have gables! Do you have a chair, bench or desk nestled in any of your gables?

    I was watching a BBC program called 'A House In the Country', or something like that - and they were searching for a home in the South Shropshire Hills. They featured the town of Ludlow and the ruins of a castle and I was sure you must live nearby ...

  2. *sigh*
    Like the scenery from a British costume drama. No wonder war brides and immigrants pined for 'the old country'. Lakes and mountains, trees and rivers are all well and good, but on a dreary fall day I'd give anything for a walk around an interesting village.

  3. Living in such a village would bring the past into everyday life. Such a long history is unfathomable to us upstart Canadians. And yet we long for that connectedness to the land. I echo Pondside's thoughts - oh for a walk around such a picturesque village on this dreary wet Sunday.

  4. Yes, this reminds me also of 'storybook England' and such lovely walks you must enjoy. I'm sure, always finding something new in the old, a different light shining on this or a shadow over that. I have always been in awe of the olden brick structures that have lasted through this century, much less, many.

    Thank you for sharing both your interview and your village with us. Sounds like a wonderful place to live.

  5. What a lovely, picturesque place to live! But since you haven't lived there a hundred years yet, are you considered a foreigner by the locals?

  6. This is a wonderful posting, Friko. You do, indeed, live in a "storybook village," as others have recognized. I would love to live in such a place. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  7. What a beautiful village! If I had another life, I'd like it to be in such idyllic surroundings.

  8. Looks just like I would imagine from your postcard. I love movies that take place in English villages. Always looking for a BBC production. Blessings.

  9. That was a lovely tour around your village. It looks beautiful. I suppose you will still be a 'newcomer' even if you live there fifty years :)

  10. It looks wonderful. I think I would like village life. My aunt and uncle lived in a house built out of local stone in east Texas. It was a very cool house.

  11. This is all so very beautiful and so very English, I have enjoyed this tour of your village and loved each and every photo. The wee glimpse of your house nestled away in those beautiful trees looks fabulous.

  12. Just as I would imagine it! Lovely images of places with such stories and character...I must simply figure out a way to make a trip "across the pond."
    Thank you for sharing.

  13. I enjoyed be walked around your village/town, Friko. Have you ever had so many people, actually walk you to your door? Nice post.

  14. Gorgeous photos and a great history lesson. Thank you, Friko, for sharing your home with us.

  15. What lovely pictures! The tour was grand! Cathy

  16. What a lovely tour through your neighbourhood on a particularly fine day, if all the photos were taken on the same day.

  17. Gorgeous, Friko! How lucky you are to live in this environment and how pretty looks your house tucked into it. Lucky girl, indeed but I know that you know.

  18. You do live in a delightfully beautiful place. I would walk my shoe soles off there.
    I chuckled that they also use the expression "from off". It is used in my small town also and first time I was asked if I were "from off", I thought they were talking about my mental stability.
    Just read your insightful interview. Great job.

  19. What a gift to share with us. Thank you. And now I am off to read the interview with Bonnie, curiosity well stirred. Every Blessing

  20. Me and a sketch book would be in seventh heaven in a place like that...providing the weather was prepared to be as accommodating as it was when you took the photos! :)

  21. Your gentle walk through
    living history was enchanting.
    Over here in the colonies,
    in the North Woods, in the
    furtherest NW corner of this
    vast panorama of patriotism
    and humanity, we still get
    excited by anything more
    than 100 years old. With
    you being raised in Europe,
    surrounded by things thousands
    or years old, this stroll of
    yours could not have the
    impact on you that it has
    on we historical neophytes.
    We are grateful for your
    tiny tour of your lovely
    village, and in an odd way,
    I, too, live in a small town
    in WA state, and have done so
    for 18 years; but I'm surrounded
    by families that have been here
    for generations, and I will ever
    be the interloper, the new kid.

  22. märchenhaft, in jeder Hinsicht..!

  23. I liked the bit where the locals carried off the Lord of the Manor's crumbling house - we live in the same part of the country here :0)

  24. Such a lovely part of the world. I so enjoy being able to take a "virtual" walk wherever you might lead us!

  25. Thanks for taking us around, Friko.

    You share your village as no journalist could.

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  26. Thank you for sharing your viewpoints of the homes and the history of your village. It looks enchanting and a place that most of your readers would dream of visiting, if only for a few days. I really enjoy seeing the houses that people look at on the tv show, "Location, Location, Location". In the show, we viewers get glimpses of life in the ?English countryside that we never would see otherwise.

  27. What a charming village with beautiful old stones on the walls. I’d love to visit and take pictures.

  28. I know you said we would go on a "gentle walk" and my feet danced along the path. I could feel the ancient lyrical rhythms. Thank you for starting off my day on such a happy note.

  29. Gorgeous little town. It is so... English ;-) I love the photos.

  30. Beautiful village beautiful house lucky you!!

  31. thank you Friko, for lightening my day and allowing me to ponder on the multiple layers of village life, has there ever been a murder here?

  32. It DOES seem a storybook village. Have you lived there long?
    thanks for sharing this; I enjoyed the tour.

  33. This is an enviable place, looks like a fairytale land. Must be a wonderful place to live in. Nice share!

  34. Charming, cozy, inviting, and interesting. Makes me want to visit.

  35. Your area looks so picturesque..truly out of a storybook. I like the homes made from stone and the white stucco house reminded me of places I saw in Ireland. How lucky you are to be surrounded by ancient trees!

  36. I would love to be able to answer your comments individually. This is a very busy week for me and I have now visited most of you on your blogs instead - if you don't have a blog, it's your own fault! -.

    Thank you all, I never expected so many appreciative comments about my modest little village, when so many of you live in far more spectacular scenery.

  37. Beautiful old buildings. Having moved from lakeside to an aceage in a forest, near a small town established in the early 1800s, I am blissfully discovering lovely old buildings. Great post!
    Cheers from Cottage Country !


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