Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A Tudor Merchant's House and Charles 1st's Queen Henrietta-Maria.

Wednesday 26th July 2017  at Bournville.
Rain overnight and intermittently throughout the morning. We walked into the small centre of King's Norton.
With its charming green and fine old buildings, King's Norton must once have been a delightful village in its own right. Although still charming, it is now bisected by a major road and it has been engulfed by Birmingham. However, it still claims to house Birmingham's finest collection of  mediaeval buildings, including a Tudor Merchant's house built in 1492, the "Old Grammar School" built in 1434 and the 18th century "Saracen's Head" pub, which together won the 2004 BBC 2 "Restoration" programme. The buildings are now used as a museum, café, community centre and shop.
We felt obliged to stop for a tea and cake in the café and were amused to see a pair of notices on the wall. The one on the right is appealing for £50,000 to replace the lead on the roof as people keep on stealing it and letting water into the building. The notice on the left is the story of a policeman who rescued a man from the central courtyard very late one night as the man had fallen off the roof and broken his leg! The man was taken to hospital, then duly arrested and received a 20 month jail sentence for theft. Poetic justice!
The Great Hall of the tudor residence is a magnificent structure and it is regularly used for local functions.
In places, you could still see traces of the original painted decoration on the pillars. The original wattle and daub has been preserved in one place behind a glass panel.
King's Norton was given to Queen Henrietta-Maria, wife of Charles 1st, as part of her wedding dowry and she stayed in the house on 10th July 1643 on her way to meet Charles 1st at Oxford.
King's Norton has a more recent connection as the birthplace in 1871 of Edith Holden, author of "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" written in 1906 but not published until 1977. We have a copy on board MM and regularly look to see what she was doing around here on the same day in 1906.
The rain eased off in the early afternoon and we set off towards Birmingham. The finger post at King's Norton Junction shows the way we will go after Birmingham - on down towards Kingswood Junction and Stratford-upon-Avon.
We had to stop at the junction to let another boat through and MM's propellor churned up the black water; the bottom is shallow and carpeted with coal dust.
Inevitably, we got something around the propellor and, just after the bridge, R stopped to remove it.
The bridge at the junction certainly marks a cultural as well as a county boundary; south of the bridge was glorious Worcestershire with its rural countryside, north of the bridge is industrial Birmingham and the level of detritus in the canal was noticeably worse.
At Bournville there are dedicated secure moorings, as historically Cadbury's raw materials and finished products came and went by canal.
We moored up opposite Cadbury's World and the sun came out to provide us with a lovely afternoon and evening.

M took the opportunity to dead-head the geraniums on MM as there had obviously been some heavy rain while we were away; many of the blooms were damaged and they had grown a bit straggly.
We poured a glass of wine and sat in the sunshine while M busied herself with the scissors.
Today: 2 miles, 0 locks and 2.2 hours.
Trip: 119 miles, 138 locks and 99.8 hours.

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