A Sunday Drive

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.

The church steeples act as beacons from one village to another.
The church steeples act as beacons from one village to another.
Waiting for the bus.
Waiting for the bus.
I love how this house is tucked into the curve of the road.
Nestled in the curve of the road, this house utterly caught me. I would love to explore it one day.
Although this shot looks like a miss, I actually like how it works.
Hedges often get in the way of shots. Just as I get the focus, the clear view is gone. Sometimes, however, it works anyway.

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.

I wonder if Top Gear ever shot here.
I wonder if Top Gear ever shot here.

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.

Amazing house; so close to the road you could almost drive through it.
Amazing house; so close to the road you could almost drive through it.
The pub sign came out. For some reason, they're always blurry on me.
The pub sign came out. For some reason, they’re always blurry on me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the middle of town, the church from about the early 13th century is still a commanding presence.
In the middle of town, the church, from about the early 13th century, is still a commanding presence.

‘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.

It was actually quite clear that day ... depending which direction you were looking, but the quality of light in this shot is quite lovely.
It was actually quite clear that day … depending which direction you were looking, but the quality of light in this shot is quite lovely.

In the older parts of town, the streets become quite narrow and negotiating them can be challenging, especially when there are cars parked.

A moment in someone's life.
A moment in someone’s life.

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.

Since the early 13th century it has stood, watching over this village as through the centuries it became a thriving town.
Since the early 13th century it has stood, watching over this village as through the centuries it became a thriving town.

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.

Leading down toward the market, the street dates from the 15th century.
Leading down toward the market, the street dates from the 15th century.

Down at the bottom of Apiary Gate, you can see the Georgian buildings of Market Street.

At the bottom of Apiary Gate you can see the Methodist Church spire and Bondgate St.
The Methodist Church spire on 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.

Built in 1636, the front porch 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.
The Keys House

As we leave town, the clouds become a little more prominent and they gleam in the sunlight.

East Midlands Airport
Planes glimmer at East Midlands Airport
The sun's fingers caress the crossroads.
The sun’s fingers caress the crossroads.
Back in the country, the sky changes yet again.
Back in the country, the sky changes yet again and the mist rolls in.
This shot seems to pull you along down the road.
This shot seems to pull you along down the road.

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.

Set on a ridge, Breedon on Hill Priory watches the land under its care.
Set on its man-made ridge, Breedon on the Hill Priory watches the land under its care.

‘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.

The Old Methodist Church School on Main Street guides you toward the village centre.
The Old Methodist Church School on Main Street guides you toward the village centre.

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.

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