Loving Local Landscapes

I added the strapline, “Loving Local Landscapes” to this blog in early 2016. It was in response to an assignment for work, that I was undertaking as a part of a copywriting course by the CMP.

It’s been a busy year in general and my personal direction has altered a few times, wrestling with where the line should be with my public and private persona and just what I want to share online.  I have long been a lover of nature and history, and yet my tweets are often political, as is the material that I post to Facebook.  I feel the two worlds are not always compatible and should not bleed into each other, keeping both strands pure for those with similar interests. Nature lovers may not want politics and Politico’s may not care for updates on hill and dale.

Subsequently, all posts of all types have suffered from my hiatus, whilst I ponder exactly how to separate the content appropriately to ensure the right audience gets the right material.

The Direction for 2017

This Weblog shall remain a-political, focusing on the landscape and history of the Peak District and my interpretation and interaction with those elements.  To underline that commitment, Here’s a little of what I’ve been up to at the end of 2016.

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Crich Stand Trig: One of the easiest in the area.

A Trip To Crich Stand

The Crich Memorial (known locally as Crich Stand) is one of those places that has been on my list to visit for a very long time, and yet it’s one of those places I never seemed to get to, until now.

Despite having visited the tramway museum a few years ago, having had relatives in the area, and visiting friends in the village itself, I’d never gotten up to Crich stand itself, much to my annoyance.

As I’m sure any walker/runner will know, all too often we pass a place in our cars, and vow to investigate, and yet allow life to jostle us past every gaping opportunity.  Well, no more.

After the excesses of the Christmas holiday,  Mum and I headed up to Crich with the aim of wandering up to the Stand. It was a cold crisp day,  we made the stroll very steady.

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I believed that The Memorial tower was dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the Sherwood foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment). I was unaware though that the regiment had been merged with the Worcestershire regiment. Today that merged regiment is part of the Mercian Regiment, all part of Army restructuring.

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For more information about the history of the tower, see the Crich Memorial Website.

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We wandered around looking at the inscriptions on the War memorials to the dead that have fallen since WW2, took a few piccys and walked up to the trig, peering down into the Tramway Museum below.

There was a  chap flying his Drone up there, getting some ariel footage and just generally enjoying the views. We exchanged pleasantries, and Instagram handles, though I couldn’t find his account, perhaps, he’ll find my Instagram or read this?

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Sadly, the tower itself was closed, but we do hope to visit again and perhaps get to take in the view on that occasion.

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My Tideswell Fell Race 2016

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Photo: Tideswell Fell Race Website.

The evening of June 24th saw the 2016 Tideswell Fell Race. The venue is Tideswell Dale. This year, 85 runners took part, which is a good turnout.  I think there were a few more than last year.

It looked as though rain may stop play before the fell race even began.  Dark clouds were overhead and they unleashed a deluge of large hailstones.  Luckily the heavens cleared and blue skies soon chased off the dark clouds.

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I arrived early at Tideswell Dale with just enough time to record a quick snap chat about how I was feeling before the race. It’s a nice race with a bloody tough climb quite early on.

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When I arrived I went to sign in and collect my race number, which wasn’t great, it was number 13.  Not a good omen in my opinion and so it was proved. I’d told my friends Jo Shimwell and Nick Johnson and they came along for the race too.

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Will Brindley & Glen Croper…enjoying the rainbow.

Myself and my fellow clubmate Will Brindley headed up into the quarry to do some pre-race warmup.  Not that it did me any good at all.

The Race Begins

The race began at a cracking pace, a little bit too fast for me. I did my best to keep up with the middle of the pack, but by the bottom of Tideswell Dale I was already flagging. My legs felt very heavy. By the time I had climbed up onto the Monsal Trail I was just about done for, the race wasn’t even a 1/3 in.

From the Monsal Trail it was up the steep steps at the side of the old packhorse bridge that crosses the old railway line,  and up the steep, steep climb to the top.  I have done this climb many times before,  it all depends on how you approach it. This time, it was so hard, I was so tired, the flies were out in force, the cowpats were everywhere, tough going is not the word.

Just before the top, I received some welcome refreshment two Tideswell people were standing there handing out water. I took 2 cups,  One to drink and one to dunk over my head and wash the sweat from my face.

Hitting the top of the hill, I found my legs again and began to run. I could see Colette Holden in front of me,  about 100m ahead.  Collette had passed me on the hill climb and it was my determination to keep her in sight.

My standard approach to other runners of a similar ability level is keep them close  about 50 m ahead and then plan a cavalry charge at the end. I saw Colette pass the barn on the crest of the hill, I’d cut her lead and was probably, 20 seconds behind her.

As soon as I hit the downhill,  I started to increase my speed.  At one point, she couldn’t have been more than 30 meters in front of me,  but again fatigue set in and my resolve evaporated.  I just couldn’t maintain the pace,  having to stop for too many breathers.

The descent plunges down a green hillside and then into a small wood.  The path is muddy and rocky. It ends with a long set of steep steps, which are lethal when wet. Even a “descent psycho” like myself gets nervy on them. They seem to go on forever and are just so steep. My knees were screaming by the time I crossed the river bridge to hit the tarmac at the bottom.

The Tar Stretch

At the bottom gates of Ravens Tor Youth Hostel, Colette was out of sight again.  I increased my speed, and after about three minutes she was back in sight and only 50 meters ahead.  I thought that if I could maintain the pace I might overtake her towards the end.

The ascent backup Tideswell Dale is a deceptively long drag, especially when you’ve just done the best part of a fell race. I tried to maintain my speed,  increasing my steps,   I closed on Colette, “this is it, I said to myself as I rounded the corner.  Cramp was setting into the legs and suddenly something in my brain said “stop”.

I stopped for about 30 seconds, just to get some air and knowing all the time, that I’d just blown my last chance. I pressed as hard as I could on the final stretch going through the gate just before the quarry.  As I rounded the first corner I could already hear the cheers as the crowd cheered Colette up the home straight.

Nothing left to do now but finish strongly. I rounded the final corner and the crowd started to cheer me on.  I gave it my all, I am rather well known for my sprint finishes. It’s just a shame that I can’t find that speed earlier in races.  I don’t get my legs till far too late.

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Sprint Finish Photo: Jo Shimwell

A  fantastic race by Colette has to be congratulated, especially that she’s been struggling with injury all year.

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Colette at the finish. Photo: Andy Watkins

Conclusions

Tideswell Fell race is a fantastic race,  really enjoyable.  My time is down on last years, but I can cope.  This was only my second race this year and my training has been patchy due to PF.

One thing this result tells me is that I really, really need to work on my fitness and stamina. This is been a consistent problem in races,  giving up too easily when I need to keep going.

I am sure I need some kind of mental training.  My weight is getting there,  am capable of bursts of speed, so I don’t know what the issue is.

Any comments on this from experienced runners would be welcome.

Related Links:

Tideswell Fell Race
My Tideswell Fell Race 2015
Tideswell Running Club
Reworked version of this article at TRC

My Tideswell Fell Race 2015

Tideswell Fell Race is a 4.4 mile race starting from Tideswell Dale, just outside the White peak village, known as “Tidza”. The 2015 race was held on the 26th of June.

This year I wasn’t injured, and having never done Tideswell Fell Race before, I was keen to take part. The race is organised by local people, not by Tideswell Running Club. However, the running club wanted to show our support for a local race, and we turned out in force.

Gerard Rogers has it covered with computerised results.After the initial registration, there’s a short walk up to the old quarry a little further down dale. We knew that the pace would be pretty quick as local and national fell racing stars such as Luke Beresford (Ripley AC), Olivia Walwyn (Macclesfield Harriers) and Judith Jepson (Dark Peak) were all in attendance.

Tideswell Fell Race

Tideswell Fell Race starts in the old Quarry

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Plenty of Dark Peak runners at the start.

The race went off at a cracking pace, down the to the bottom of Tideswell Dale towards Litton Mill.

Tideswell Fell Race

Obviously, I’m winning the race in this shot.

Once in the village, take a quick right over the narrow river bridge and then a steep rocky ascent brings you up onto the Monsal Trail. Dash straight across the trail and up the steps beside the railway footbridge. The route then climbs up two steep fields before flattening out onto Bulltor Lane. Turn right towards the barn and go through the stile. One brief plateau of a field with a stunning view, then all of a sudden you’re flying back downhill. Run this bit as hard as you can, to make up time, there’s a tight wooded bit with lots of roots and potential trips, so disengage the brain on the grass

If it’s been raining, this section can be pretty slippery, The steps are particularly slimy. Before you know it you’re over a small river bridge crossing the Wye, turn right back on the tarmac again. This stretch of tarmac seems to go on forever, but save a little if you can, soon enough you’ll come to the bottom Tideswell Dale. Swing back up the dale with a hairpin left, and begin the long steady incline back up to the finish line. You can usually see other runners in front of you here, and this is the time to pick them off, If you’ve got anything left in the tank.

I came in near the back of the field,  as per usual, but having never reccied the route I was pleased to have just taken part.

All in all cracking little race and if you’re reasonably fit, it actually feels like you’re competing, all the way round. Looking forward to doing better in the 2016 race.

Thanks to Tideswell Fell Race for the use of their photos
See race photos here

My Grindleford Fell Race 2015

Grindleford Fell race 2015.

A couple of weeks back a group of us from TRC had done a steady recce of the Grindleford Fell Race. Despite us taking a couple of wrong turns. We knew largely what to expect in terms of terrain. The route was truly spectacular, and very enjoyable to do, so I was looking forward to giving it my best effort.

I turned up at Grindleford nice and early, getting a decent parking space, and I chatted to a few other runners I knew. I bumped into an old schoolfriend after the race, and an old band mate before it. I also bumped into Alex Kashefi, the barefoot runner who I follow on Instagram.

At first, I thought the race might be quiet, but the car parking field soon filled up, and the race organisers ran out of numbers as a record 431 something runners arrived to take part.

Eventually, the race got underway and after a couple of laps of the playing field the racing snakes were away.

Grindleford Fellrace

Photo: George Carman

The rest of us ran into the tight church lane funnel, where we got about 5 minutes running before we ground a waking queue. I was glad of this though because my quads were already burning and the calves weren’t best happy either.

Steep wooded Climb

Long Queues formed here:  Sue Jeff – On the Earlier TRC recce of the route. Photo: Ben Brindley

Church Lane Climb

It’s tight in there. As you can see. The whole thing soon ground to a walking Queue

After the steep climb of low branches and rock strewn path, we emerged onto a wooded hill with an epic view of the Hope valley. After a short downhill where I prematurely bolted past a load of runners, we were through a stile and up a boggy hillside heading toward the longshaw estate. This hillside was crisscrossed with small, rusty streams whose banks and been collapsed by grazing livestock, this turning the land into bog after bog. I was glad to get out of the fields and onto the hard packed dirt track above. This didn’t help me much though as a few runners came past me at this point.

I feared I’d spent my energy too soon. After a few minutes though I found a good rhythm and slowly started to pick a couple of people off. We turned left and encountered ditches and fallen trees as obstacles. I think this is where I started to believe a bit, because I went over the logs easily and headed down towards the road at the back of Owler Tor.

The Stream Crossing, Padley Gorge

Claire from TRC makes her way across the Stream on our recce: Photo Ben Brindley

Slowing slightly to get my breath, I knew that getting a good start at the top of Padley Gorge would be pivotal for my race.

When we recce’d this the week before, it slowed a few of us up because there is a stream crossing, and runners were choosing the boulders instead of just running through the water. The same happened on race night.

There was a pack of runners, all gingerly picking their way over the boulders, I blasted through the water, leaving them to wonder what whizzed past. Then up ahead a few more just entering the rather technical, rock and root littered path. I just pressed the peddle here and went flying past them. It’s a risky strategy, but I do love a technical downhill, and I tried to remember what my teammate, Ben told me about not over striding. One after another, I dropped runner after runner, this felt so good, because I rarely overtake anyone in races and always finish quite near the back. Only once was I overtaken on this section by a Steel City Strider and I managed to catch that lady and pass her later on.

Tony and Leon Testing the start of the Descent into Padley Gorge

Tony and Leon Testing the start of the Descent into Padley Gorge. Photo: Ben Brindley

At the bottom of the Gorge there’s a gravel downhill, my idea of hell, followed by a brief uphill section, past the ancient Ruined chapel where the Rogue Priest Nicolas Garlic was captured. Here I  ran with another chap, Ian from Sheffield for a minute or two, we marvelled at a small woman who came chugging past up like a Trojan warrior, before turning left through a kissing gate. It was at this point, that I put my foot in a divot and lost my balance. I didn’t go over but my confidence evaporated. I gestured for the runner behind me, a smiley Pacer to come past. A few seconds went by and I regained my composure and kept going.

Running down a green path into open meadows, I could see 4 runners ahead of me, the Trojan lady and Ian from the bottom of the Gorge were already pulling away, followed by the Steel City Strider and the Smiley Pacer. At the boundary of the first field, I dropped the Strider. She followed the path, I bounded through a gap in the wall, landing a few steps ahead of her, then pulled away. The Smiler was just in front now, but we had the big flat meadow to cross.. Instead of trying to take her early, I thought it best to wait, I trailed her all the way to the river.

I’d envisioned myself fearlessly blasting through the river, but that was far from reality. As soon as I hit the water I became disorientated. The moving water made it hard to balance, I took a line with deeper water, this coupled with the screaming crowd, I did well not to fall in face first.

Photo: Kathryn Brindley

Photo: Kathryn Brindley

Chasing a Smiley Pacer

Grindleford Fell Race-River Crossing. Photo – Kathryn Brindley

Emerging from the water, Smiley had 20 meters on me. I trailed her in, thinking that she would put a final spurt in any time. Alex Kashefi high fived me and shouted “go on Tideswellman “, Well, it was at this point that I spotted the finish line and a few of the Tidza crew were urging me on. I gave it everything I had, and crossed the line just ahead of the Smiley Pacer. I felt bad for her really, but that’s the game, and she was very sporting about it too.  It was a rather unimpressive time of  58:13.  Finishing  394th out of 431.

Any decent runner would scoff at such a time, but I’m only a year into my running journey, and I feel the race went ok. I’m proud to have done it, proud to have represented my club and proud of the effort I put in, which has boosted my confidence no end.

Since then I’ve completed 2 more local fell races at Tideswell and at Hope. Next up is my chance to show that I really have improved. Hathersage Gala Fell Race was my first Fell race , exactly a year ago. So we’ll see if I’m any quicker this time. Fingers crossed.

Tideswell Church – The Cathedral of the Peak

Tideswell church, St John the Baptist. Tideswell is a very large ‘Church of England’ Parish Church. It is one of the most important churches in Derbyshire.

I lived in Tideswell until the age of 20. During that time, like most other Tideswellians whether young or old, I consider that I have a special relationship with Tideswell Church. I spent many hours bored rigid in there as a schoolboy, listening to religious services at Easter, Wakes, Harvest and Christmas.  I had fun practising for School plays and concerts, I was scared by the creepy tombs, and marvelled at the stone cat and the monkey. I’ve been drunk in the Churchyard, in my teens, hanging out with friends in the churchyard till the early hours.  I saw the Duke of Edinburgh there in the 80s, when he looked at our Cub Scout’s Welldressing. I have shared in sombre moments, attending funerals some of good friends and fellow Tideswellians.  So it feels right, that I should pay some small tribute to a building that I love.

Tideswell Church

Tideswell Church – Cathedral of the Peak

About Tideswell Church

Tideswell church is famous locally, that is to say, within the Peak District, and perhaps Derbyshire, maybe also amongst those, who like me, appreciate churches and other ancient buildings. There is no doubt that it will have a memorable effect on anyone who has visited it.

Tideswell Church -Cathedral of the Peak

This Photo Shows the size of Tideswell church in comparison with local houses.

The reason that the church is so well known, is because of it’s size and striking architecture. Dubbed the “Cathedral of the Peak” (it is not a cathedral). It is one certainly amongst the most famous churches in Derbyshire, and is a Grade 1 listed building.

Tideswell Church has Norman Influences

The church, replaced a small Norman church, was constructed between approximately 1320 and 1400. The building work was delayed by the Black Death, which also hit nearby Eyam (Plague village). I always like to remind people that the plague wasn’t just in Eyam, but it seems that only Eyam is famous for it.

St John the Baptist church - Nave

The Nave

There are two main styles to the building: the nave ( main body of the church), aisles Corridors) and transepts (wings) are in late Gothic style,(French style Architecture, characteristics include the pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress.) and both the chancel (space around the altar) and tower are in perpendicular style.(Focusing on straight lines)

Tideswell Church Clock

Tideswell Church

Tideswell Church Tower

The perpendicular style became popular the Black Death which killed about half of England’s population in 18 months between June 1348 and December 1349 returning in 1361–62 to kill another fifth. This had a dramatic effect on the arts and culture, which it seems became very practical. The nation was affected by the labour shortages caused by the plague so architects designed less elaborately to compensate.

The church underwent was major restoration in 1873 by J D Sedding, which was truly a restoration rather than a reconstruction. In ‘Churches and Chapels in The County of Derby‘, Rawlins described St John’s as being:

without exception, the most perfect and beautiful specimen of pointed architecture to be found in the County, – or perhaps in any other parish church of its size in the entire Kingdom

Tideswell Church Tower

Tideswell Church Tower

Catholicism in Tideswell

We often forget, that although today, most of our Parish Churches are ‘Church of England’. Many began life as Catholic Churches, Tideswell is no different. Bishop Pursglove, and Nicholas Garlic are Tideswells’ most celebrated and most notorious Catholic Clergy. Unlike local churches such as Hartington and Eyam, There are no signs of the fresco’s that would have covered the inside of the building in Catholic times.

Lichfield vs Lenton – The fight for Tideswell Church.

In 1250–51, the church became embroiled in a dispute between Lichfield Cathedral and Lenton Priory.

Tideswell was one of a several of parishes that had been given to Lenton Priory by the Peverel family during the 11th century. Later, their lands in the Peak District were seized by the crown and granted by King Henry II to his son William The Younger.

After taking the throne, Henry’s son,  King John, granted the lands to the Bishop of Lichfield and in turn, they passed to the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral.

This transfer began around 300 years of disagreement between the Priory and Cathedral about who was the rightful owner of the Tideswell Church. The legal battle continued throughout this period, including suits in the Vatican Court on several occasions.

Tideswell Church became directly involved in the dispute when in 1250–51, The monks of Lenton Priory armed themselves and attempted to steal wool and lambs from Tideswell,

The Dean of Lichfield Cathedral knew that Lenton would try such a manoeuvre, and ordered the wool and sheep to be kept within the nave of Tideswell church. Strangely, the monks of Lenton did not honour the church’s sanctuary rights, breaking into the building. A violent battle followed, and 18 lambs were killed within the church: either trampled under the horses’ hooves or butchered by the attackers. The Lenton, monks managed to carry off 14 of the lambs. (House of Cluniac Monks, Page, W 1910)

Despite a commission being assembled by Pope Innocent IV, which fined the monks of Lenton Priory severely for their actions. The disputes continued until King Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Catholic power was smashed throughout the land.

Notable Features in Tideswell Church

There are of course several notable features in, on and around the church. Some of the most notable items are the tombs in the Church. There are brasses to Sir John Foljamb, d. 1383 and to Bishop Robert Purseglove as well as several stone table tombs.  These tombs used to fascinate and scare me as a kid, the thought of what might lie beneath them petrified me.

The Tomb of Sampson Meveril

In the middle of the chancel, there is an Altar tomb. Within lies Sir Sampson Meverill (1388–1462), allegedly one of the victors of Agincourt. Apparently Sir Sampson was ‘a bit of a rum lad’. Not averse, in his day, to abducting Jurors, sent to try him.  As a boy, this tomb always scared me because, beneath the marble slab, a stone cadaver lies. The stone corpse looks emaciated and creepy. Sampson’s head is held by an Angel, but the ravages of time make the Angel look more like some kind of evil Succubus. The top of the tomb is heavily inscribed and has an alabaster frieze and brass panels. The tomb was restored in 1876.

Stone Cadaver with Angel

The Tomb of Sir Sampson Meveril in Tideswell Church

In the South Transept, there is the Lytton Chapel has one of the old bells on the floor, whilst nearby, is the tomb of Robert (d. 1483) and his wife Isabel (d. 1458) Lytton.

Mysterious Ladies from the 14th Century

The transcept also holds the effigies of two unknown ladies, these figures are thought to date back to the early 1300’s.

Stone Effigies in the Lytton Chapel.

Stone Effigies – Tideswell Church

Sir Thurstan DeBower

Perhaps the church’s most notable feature is the ‘Bower Chapel’. This contains an impressive tomb, said to be that of Sir Thurstan and his wife Margret de Bower. the recumbent alabaster figures are extremely worn but remain impressive. Personally, I think it’s a tragedy that people have etched graffiti into the stone tomb, but most of it is very old by the look of it.

There is some debate raised by previous books about Tideswell, as to the true identity of these figures set in Alabaster. Local Historian, Rosemarie Lockie’s website has transcriptions that state contrary evidence. (See Related Links).

De Bower Tomb

Sir Thurstram De Bower and his Wife Margaret?

Carved Inscription regarding Sir Thurstram

Carved Inscription regarding Sir Thurstram – but is it accurate?

Thurstram Debower - Knight of Tideswell, and Benefactor of the church

Thurstram Debower – Knight of Tideswell?, Benefactor of the Church

Thurstram Debower

Is this the Debower tomb or an effigy to some other local Knight?

Wood Carvings

Tideswell Church is well known for the carvings of Advent Hunstone. Hunstone was A Tideswellman, who’s carvings adorn the great building, and many other local churches.
Not all the carvings in Tideswell church are Hunstone’s though.
Some in the chancel choir stalls are attributed to a Mr Tooley of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Wood Carvings

Wood Carvings at Tideswell

There are many other notable Features in Tideswell Church, probabally too many to mention. Also, I think you should visit the church to get the real feel for it. Even locals, because when you walk past something everyday, it can be, that you don’t really see it. You’ll be surprised at what you will spot for the first time.

Here are a few of my favourite features.

Old Stained Glass, Derbyshire

The Stained Glass at Tideswell is fantastic.

alabaster-mary

This figurine of Mary is hidden away behind the small Organ.

chair-throne

gorgon-head

king-head

monkey-dark

The Monkey, Often hard to spot…can you find him?

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Possible Tunnel & Secret Crypt

There are those in the village who believe that Tideswell Church is connected to a series of other local buildings by a series of narrow tunnels. Some villages dismiss the idea out of hand whilst others swear to have been in them or recount tales of seeing family members in the Tunnels.

Today, those who know keep the secret. Those who want to know, like me have struggled to find out more than what is already known or supposed. You can read my posts about the tunnels under Tideswell Church here or just Google Tunnels under Tideswell. If the tunnels are there, what do they lead to? Some say they were escape routes for priests during the reformation, others say that they were used to transport prisoners, and goods. Then there are those, who believe that the reason that Tideswell church is so large is because it hides an secret crypt of an important person. Whatever the truth is, I hope we all find out one day. I’m sure it would be a positive thing for the village, in terms of tourism, if the stories turn out to be true.

Share if you like, please

I do hope that you enjoyed my post about Tideswell Church. If you did, please leave a comment or at least like or Share on Facebook/Twitter/ Google Plus, Pinterest or  whatever Social Network you favour.

Related Links – Tideswell Church.

Thurstan Debower
Wishful thibking – DeBower

Debower or Who?
Tideswell Church South Transept

Sampson Meveril, Marauding Monks and ‘The Kings Larder’
Tideswell History

Tombs
Tideswell Tombs

Bishop Pursglove
Bishop Pursglove