Cress Beds and Thomas Hardy
The plan was to park the car at Gramp’s Hill and go for a short walk on the Ridgeway, but of course we diverted from the plan. Normally we pass straight through Letcombe Bassett, a tiny spring line village on the way, and just a few miles from home.This time the old cress beds looked too inviting to miss.
Horses from the local stables had left their hoof prints in the soft mud by the old fording place to the right of the picture near the road.
I should have taken off my trainers before I stepped in the water. Squelchy trainers and wet socks it was then. The clear spring water was cool and refreshing.
A mass of water forget-me-nots attracted us out on the crumbling concrete plinths. I felt nervous, my confidence has taken a dip with the back problems of recent years. Hopefully it will increase as my back muscles recover. We couldn’t identify the strange aquatic bird on the left.
I took off my socks and drained my trainers.
Cress from Letcombe Bassett was once in demand as far away as Covent Garden. Thomas Hardy called this village Cresscombe in Jude the Obscure. Arabella’s cottage can still be seen down by the brook.
Dean Swift stayed at the rectory here in June 1714 for three months with his friend the rector. During his stay he wrote ‘Free Thoughts on the Present State of Affairs’.
We wandered past more picturesque cottages.
Parts of the old village church date back to the 12c. I guess the site of spring water was a place of veneration long before.
Inside there was that strange musty smell that is a feature of very old country churches.
The way out led past some unusual tombs in the tiny churchyard.
I try to imagine what it must have been like when the French speaking Normans arrived here so long ago and seized the local manor and lands.
We didn’t spend long here as we still had the Ridgeway walk in mind but I’ll be back soon for another look.
Baby rabbits played chicken in front of our car on the single track lane to the top of Gramp’s Hill.
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