“What Are Those Blue Remembered Hills”?

Anyone who saw July’s To The Mysterious Stiperstones post might just recognise those distant heather-covered hills. Last month they were captured under looming skies, but this was how they looked yesterday when we went to Wentnor.

This off-the-beaten-track South Shropshire village must have some of the best views in the county – the Stiperstones to the west, and the Long Mynd to the east, and nothing but rolling farmland in between. The nearest towns are Church Stretton and Bishops Castle (6 and 5 miles respectively) but take note: Wentnor miles are at least twice as long as other people’s miles. It is a world all its own.

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Coming up next is a glimpse of the Long Mynd looking east from the village. The name, unsurprisingly, means long mountain. It does not allow itself to be photographed in one shot.

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And here’s the northerly end, taken from the car park of the village pub:

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Talking of which, this was the objective for the outing – lunch at The Crown at Wentnor along with our best Buffalo chums, Jack and Kathy. The last time we four had been there, Graham and I were still living in Kenya, and only briefly in the UK on annual leave. We decided it had to be a good twenty years ago. How time flies.

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After lunch we wandered about the village, and paid a visit to the parish church of St. Michael. None of us are subscribers, but when out together we often seem to find ourselves in country churchyards. Besides, Wentnor church is welcoming, and vistas within and without most picturesque. In fact I was so taken with the charm of the kneelers along the pews,  I thought I might even like to join the people who had made them in a spot of hymn-singing – All things bright and beautiful of course; nothing like some tuneful gratitude as harvest festival time approaches.

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The church was rebuilt in the 19th century, although parts date from the 12th century. I was particularly struck by the craftsmanship of the ceiling, and have never seen anything quite like it before. It made me think of the ornate wooden Viking churches of Norway.

Out in the churchyard with its ancient spreading yew, there were views of the Long Mynd and the hills towards Clun and Radnorshire:

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And it was all so very quiet with few signs of the locals as we wandered up and down the lane; only a couple of horses waiting for new shoes from the travelling blacksmith, the village noticeboard, old barns and cottages. And then the skies turned threatening and it was time to leave, back to the real world beyond the Mynd.

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N.B. The title quote is from A E Housman’s A Shropshire Lad  no. XL

 

Into my heart an air that kills

From yon far country blows:

What are those blue remembered hills,

What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,

I see it shining plain,

The happy highways where I went

And cannot come again.

Six Word Saturday 

45 thoughts on ““What Are Those Blue Remembered Hills”?

  1. A ditty, half remembered, is going through my mind…. Something like Clungonbury, Clunford, Clunton and Clun ….. Are the sleepiest places under the sun…. No idea where it came from…..

  2. Found it! I misquoted the first verse of Housman’s A Shropshire Lad….never knew I had ever been familiar with it! Just goes to show how much we store in the dim recesses of our minds!!

  3. The poem is very apt, Tish. I felt like I was rolling down those lanes with you. Wonderful that it seems so familiar now. And another pub! For next time… 🙂 🙂

    1. Can’t beat a bit of Housman for capturing the light and shade of the Shropshire hills. He does indeed induce a tendency to roll. What fun we’d have…even before the Guiness and Butty Bach…

      1. Ah, beef and stilton sounds good. I have had a beef and Cornish blue cheese down here and it was very tasty. Ludlow’s Church Inn does good pies too.

  4. Sometimes, the fact that the towns here have the same name as yours are really startling. Shrewsbury is right up the road, you know, so I looked at the first picture and thought “local”? and then I realized no, of course not.

    The other day you said something that made me think — that your area has been inhabited for more than a thousand years. I realized — so has THIS area. We don’t have stone ruins to remember the Native Americans, but they WERE here. In the absence of stone works , we forget people have been here for a long time. That’s even true in the middle east, places like Jericho are essentially vanished because they built using mud bricks. The only reason archaeologists dug there was because of Biblical references, so they expected to find them … and they did.

    Our original Native Americans did not leave stone buildings or piles of broken pottery … so we forget. THEY remember, but we don’t.

    1. Yes, the indigenous peoples of the Americas have had a tough time all round. All the right wing talk about reclaiming the US for whites is tosh. They stole it. Interesting book I heard an excerpt of on BBC radio and must get – Hungry Empire by Lizzie Collingham. There’s an excellent chapter on how the New England settlers wrested land and food, and cultivation wisdom from the Native Americans in order to survive. Not a pretty story. But we took our place names with us it seems. When we were driving round Ontario it was as if the map of Great Britain had been shaken out in a new format. V. confusing. No.No. No. Stratford can’t possibly be anywhere near Chatham etc.
      You make a good point about the human endeavours that leave no traces on the ground.

      1. This goes with people who say “My people have been around for thousands of year.” Well, EVERYBODY’S people have been around since the beginning of time. The only difference is that some people have names and dates and places and the rest of us, don’t. Poor people get forgotten in time. Even most of the rich disappear. But if you own enough land and a really BIG building, you might make it to a book somewhere. I always wonder if the fuss involved in being “a part of history” is worth the effort of getting there.

  5. Thanks for sharing your walk Tish. The countryside is beautiful; as is the church. It looks well subscribed! The last time I was in the chapel at Gayhurst, where I lived many years ago, the kneelers were all looking a bit forlorn, and the place a bit shabby sadly. I always associate the phrase “blue remembered hills” with Dennis Potter, rather than Housman — and with Colin Welland as the tubby kid in a red knitted pullover.

  6. I wouldn’t mind spending my afterlife in that graveyard. You do this place proud, inside and out. The photos that ceiling is amazing, as is the ceiling itself. The kneelers are charming indeed, and I’d come here to sing “all things bright …” too.

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