Sunday, July 20, 2014

Three Very Old Buildings

Today we drove to visit the children's Grandma and Grandpa J at their home in a little village just north of Ipswich, in Suffolk.

As we were ready to set off, our dog, Oscar, decided that not only did he want to come too, but he wanted to drive. I tried telling him that the pedal on the right was "go" and the one in the middle was "stop", but he wasn't very good at driving so we left him at home.

First we went to Grandpa J's church. Grandpa J is a Lay Reader, an unpaid minister for the Church of England. As we arrived the church bells were ringing, which is a very beautiful sound. Tag and the children loved hearing them. This is the medieval church with Grandma J outside it holding Tag.

As we went in, Tag read the notice on the door and wondered, just how old is "this ancient building"?

Once we were inside, however, he found the answer. Here he is looking at a list of the Rectors of the church. You might just be able to see that the first one took up the post in 1208!

Here is Grandpa J with Carol, another Lay Reader, and Tag. You'll notice that naughty Tag is trying to drink Grandpa J's coffee! I had to have stern words with him about that later.

The service was very short - only 45 minutes. Gwen, Hari and Ceri thought that was great! Afterwards, Tag and Ceri had fun looking around the church.

Ceri is standing near a lectern, where the Bible is placed. She thought it looked as though it belonged in Hogwarts! Behind her, with new, safer steps leading to it, is the pulpit, where the sermon is preached from. (She brought Rainbow Dash along too, but Tag didn't mind having some company.)

Behind Ceri, Rainbow Dash and Tag, are the pews where the choir sits, and the altar, and a very pretty stained glass window. There were various plaques on the walls and even some set into the floor. Some were memorials to people buried in the church or graveyard surrounding it, some had scriptures like the ten commandments, and some were memorials to people from the village who had died in wars. Tag enjoyed looking at the font where babies are christened (baptised by sprinkling).


After the church service Tag was invited by the kind owner to see her home next door to the church, The Old Rectory. It was built in 1830, and at that time people felt it was important that a building should look completely symmetrical. So when they put a window on one side, they had to put a window on the other side, but sometimes that didn't work with the layout of the inside, so they made a false window out of slate. In these two pictures, can you tell which ones are the fake windows? (And can you think of anything else important which happened in 1830?)

Then it was time to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house for lunch. Grandma made us a delicious lunch of meat pie with gravy, runner beans, new potatoes, carrots and broccoli, and then toffee cheesecake or crème caramel for pudding, and then cheese and biscuits. It was very yummy; Grandma is a great cook. Once we were all feeling very full we decided to show Tag Grandma and Grandpa's home, which was built in 1491. See if you can spot Tag in these pictures.

The house was originally two tiny cottages. Here's Ceri twirling her hoop outside the left side...

 And this is the right side. Lots of traditional homes in Suffolk are painted pink. It's called "Suffolk pink" and is like that because they used to put pig or ox blood in the paint.

The garage isn't really a garage. It's called a cart lodge, because it's where the carts were kept. It has no door.

Inside the house the ceilings are very low, and the walls are uneven. Because it was once two cottages, there are two big fireplaces.

The shelves to the right of this fireplace, where the Wedgewood pottery is displayed, are thought to have been the original location of the narrow, tight staircase leading to the first floor.

Tag was very tired after looking round three old buildings, so he went upstairs to have a little lie down before it was time for us to go home.

Meanwhile, Hari and Ceri had fun playing in the garden - until it started raining!

We have lots of these very old buildings in England, and one thing Tag really loved is that they are not museums, they are all still in use, like the church, or lived in, like The Old Rectory and Grandma and Grandpa's house. Sometimes people who live in homes which are of particular historical interest have to sign an agreement to open their home to the public occasionally, but we were all very pleased that Grandma and Grandpa's house isn't one of these, so Tag feels very lucky to have seen it.


  1. Audrey was very happy to see Rainbow Dash keeping Tag company. She is also a fan of Rainbow Dash. :-) The church and the homes are really beautiful! I would love to go and poke around and learn more. Tyson says to tell your parents that their lawn (garden) is very beautiful. Here in the States we usually call it a yard, and the term “garden” is reserved for spaces containing flowers, herbs, or vegetables.

    Blood in the paint? Um...creepy...

    My kids are insisting that I tell you that today is Teeny’s birthday. We will be sure Charmin gets some cake. :-)

  2. Happy Birthday Teeny!

    A yard here is an enclosed concreted area with no grass at all. I haven't yet figured out why they would put blood in the paint. Some research required, I think.