Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Honiley Revisited

February is the midpoint of our year in England. Today, in a fierce west wind, I revisited one of our walks from late August, when our year was just starting. I walked over to Honiley to visit the little early eighteenth-century church of St. John the Baptist (1723).

It rained last night, and Inchford Brook was as high as I've ever seen it. In the Middle Ages, Inchford Brook was dammed up to create the Great Mere—the large lake that surrounded Kenilworth Castle. These days, the brook frequently floods and spills onto the road in front of the castle. Here you can see cars slowing down to negotiate the ford. Not to make any invidious comparisons, but Americans probably would have built an actual bridge.

Beyond the Great Mere (which is now a flood meadow) lie the "humps and bumps" of the Pleasance, the pleasure gounds built for Henry V in the early fifteenth century. In this photo (click to enlarge for more detail), you should be able to see the concentric squares outlining the moat and the outer walls. A large wooden banquetting hall probably stood in the central square.

The church in Honiley lay at the end of my walk. It's a relatively rare example of an English baroque church left untouched by Victorian renovations and enlargements. If you recall my earlier post, its design is attributed (at least by local lore) to Sir Christopher Wren (d. 1723), who spent his last years in nearby Wroxall. The church was probably built by Francis Smith, who rebuilt much of Warwick after a devasting fire in the 1690s. The woods to the south of the churchyard, on private property belonging to Honiley Hall, were full of daffodils. In this photograph, you can see some of the daffodils in the churchyard itself.

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