It was early January and I was still on holiday, so we decided to take a drive just to explore a little. This is a series of road-trip shots.
I love the dichotomy of these two pictures.
As we drove, we realised that we were at Donington Park. A raceway since 1931, it was requisitioned by the military in 1939 and used as a military vehicle depot. It was four decades before it was to be a racetrack again – after the park was bought by a local building contractor who had done well. Long interested in racing, he had amassed a collection of classic racing cars which he moved to the park, creating something of a museum. Today, Donington Park is not only famous for F1 racing, but also its yearly music festival and the Sunday market that attracts people from miles around.
The road around Donington Park led, of course, to Castle Donington not far away. Although the castle is long gone, foundations remain and it is believed that there has been a settlement of some kind or other on that spot since the Iron Age.
‘Donington’ is a variation on the Saxon name for the place, ‘Dunatone’ – either Saxon for ‘Duna’s estate’, or old English for something akin to ‘place of the hill dwellers’. Being so close to the River Trent, Castle Donington was also subject to Viking incursions. Bondgate, a road running through the centre of the village, harkens back to this as ‘bondgate’ was the Viking word for ‘boundary line’. The village received its Market Charter in 1278 and is mentioned in the Domesday Book.
In the older parts of town, the streets become quite narrow and negotiating them can be challenging, especially when there are cars parked.
Built in the early 13th century, with its spire added in the late 14th century, the Church of St Edward King and Martyr looms over the street. Luckily, we had to stop and let someone turn, so I was able to get this shot.
The village centre was created a Conservation Area in the early 1970s, meaning that it is protected from development and significant change. Apiary Gate leads from the Church area down to Market Street. Several of the cottages are 17th century and a couple pre-date that and are Listed, meaning they are protected by law as a part of England’s heritage.
Down at the bottom of Apiary Gate, you can see the Georgian buildings of Market Street.
Built in 1636, the front porch of this amazing house is dated 1595 was added when the farm house across the road was demolished. Keys, dated and inscribed with names of various owners who made improvements hang in the eaves.
As we leave town, the clouds become a little more prominent and they gleam in the sunlight.
On the other side, you see Breedon on the Hill Priory. A place I want to explore one day. It sits firmly atop the ridge created in part by the local limestone quarry and atop the remains of an Iron Age hill fort.
‘Breedon on the Hill’, by the way, is one of those lovely English place or landmark names that repeat themselves. ‘Bree’ is Celtic for ‘hill’. ‘Dun’ is Old English for ‘hill’. This happens frequently because as each successive conquering people began naming things, they did so not knowing that the word they were hearing to describe them (‘bree’ for instance) wasn’t the name of it. So, they tacked their own word for it onto the end. So effectively, the village is named Hill Hill on the Hill.
I love this shot. Its simplicity touches me. John Wesley, the originator of the Methodist Church, was known to visit this area regularly. I find it fitting that this small bell tower atop the Methodist Church School be the last steeple of the day.
The churches of England are many and varied. Their spires can be seen from village to village, acting as route markers across the country. Sometimes they are nestled in trees; at others, they stand proudly. Often, they are smaller than you would expect. Still, they are always present somewhere on the landscape.