On Saturday afternoon last, the two little ships tied up near Laches Bridge on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. It was a splendid mooring deep in the Staffordshire countryside with just Water Forget-me-nots, clinging Common Vetch and tall Stinging Nettles, acting as their host, as very close neighbours to our starboard sides.
The moorings were so rural that they hadn’t been used as such for some time and I had to find my shears and do some gardening before I could even reach the interlocking steel edging of the canal, which Janis and I affectionately call ‘the tin’ now. We had to pull away great clods of rooted flora in order to thread our mooring chains through the gaps made by the cross steel section.
But it was a safe mooring and very quiet.
The following morning in continuous light drizzle, we trudged about a mile across a wet bridle path into the small village of Coven to buy necessary provisions. But in spite of the weather the walk was most enjoyable as well as exhilarating and the little Co op shop was as busy as one would expect late on a Sunday morning.
In the afternoon we dug out our folding bikes (mine stows under my bunk when not in use) and we enjoyed, in spite of the rain, even heavier now than in the morning, and, avoiding the large puddles (or perhaps small floods) pedalled along narrow country roads the three or four miles to Moseley Old Hall.
This is another National Trust Property, a farmhouse built at the end of the sixteenth century and is famous for hiding Prince Charles (later to be Charles II) for two nights from the Parliamentarians after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester. It was owned by a Roman Catholic family who had a resident priest living with them to practice the now illegal Mass. Hence they had a priest hole where the would be king was able to hide at one point when the house was searched by Cromwell’s men. Floorboards were placed over the hole and a privy (a Tudor toilet) was placed on top. This made the hole almost perfectly safe as the smell emanating from it should have put anybody off searching any further here.
Unfortunately the Tudor wattle and daub, wooden framed exterior was so badly deteriorated by 1962 that it all had to be refaced with red brick, which has removed some of the original charm when viewed from the outside. But the interior is almost entirely unchanged so none of the magic allure that a house of this age induces is lost.
On a beautiful day the occasion would have been perfect as Janis and I could have wandered through the extensive gardens as well. As it was we had to be content with peering through one of the small Tudor windows at the beautifully trimmed and trained short box hedges in the ‘Knot Garden’. We took other photos but unfortunately the internet signal here is too weak to transmit them as well as the text. I shall post them later on.
After the viewing we enjoyed a cup of tea in the little café before facing the rain on the way back home.