Time standing still

9 April 2017
Ben Pentreath

It’s been a strange experience, this weekend, to have an almost intense summer heat before the leaves on the trees are beginning to unfurl.  But the garden is exploding.

If you’re like me, one of the most interesting things about the blog these days is the ability to compare year on year.  Here is this weekend in April 2016, when the garden had hardly come out of hibernation. A year previously, Charlie and I were in New Zealand right now, so it doesn’t count so easily. But looking back over the years, I really get the feeling that this is one of the earliest and most abundant springs ever. 

While Charlie and I were busy taking a thousand photos of tulip, Mavis has been delighting in her usual pastime of digging up rocks from the garden, which is fine except for the huge holes left in the lawn everywhere. I think she knows things aren’t altogether good…. but a rock is a rock. 

My prediction is that the next time we’re down, our neighbours will have their cows in these fields. As always at this time of year. 

Early this morning I had a wander in the veg garden…

Before taking Mavis for her walk, while Charlie went to the Mapperton Plant Sale.  The morning was remarkable. 

The phone box you see at the end of the lane is going. It hasn’t been used in years, apparently.  I speculated briefly whether – if it had been a red phone box – we might all have been campaigning for its retention. Because it is a modern glass thing, I think we are all completely nonchalant about its removal. Coincidentally, mobile phone reception and 4G arrived in the village about a week or two ago. That’s a strange feeling too.

On the high hills, the light was startlingly beautiful.

Mavis and I took the long route, with views out over Chesil to a misty, hazy English Channel.

Hawthorn and Blackthorn in the hedgerows together.  The May blossom is a month early. We had a beautiful Palm Sunday service in church, but then it was time to pack up the house and head to London. We were having a long-planned supper with friends tonight.

On the way, in the interests of new things, we thought we’d head off the beaten track for a moment or two and find something special to look at.  Ages ago, Charlie had spotted a tiny chapel from the A35 and it was this we thought we’d go and find.

It turned out to be called St. Andrew, Winterborne Tomson – a tiny hamlet, with a few houses, and this little church, utterly beautiful, surrounded by a working farm. Now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, it was completely perfect.

We pushed open the ancient studded door to reveal an austere, chalky-white lime washed interior, lined with oak box pews. The geometric purity of the space was like entering a tiny Renaissance chapel in a Tuscan village. 

A beautifully carved plaque on the wall explained the history of how this remarkable building was so perfectly preserved.

Someone had set the prayer book on the Altar to today’s date, Passion Sunday.

Across great wide water meadows from the church yard, we spied the tall distant chimneys of Anderson Manor. 

A burial plaque for Albert Powys is set into the wall; a newer stone for Faith, his wife. 

We followed the road, and our noses, up to Anderson Manor, which looks to be complete heaven on earth.

Here, another tiny church – St Michael, set in a walled churchyard overflowing with long grass and wild flowers. 

At the end of the lane is the beautiful 16th century manor house. I can’t wait to visit when the gardens are open sometime. 

Even more magical was this clear, clear pool, spring fed, at a turn in the lane. 

In the distance, the little chapel and the tall red brick chimneys of the manor house. The sun, bizarrely, was full of the heat of midsummer. Far in the distance, on the air, you could hear the relentless noise of the traffic on the the trunk road thundering by. But for an instant, one really, really had traveled back in time, leapfrogging centuries, to that moment when this house and its chapel were newly built.  The pond would still have been fresh and crystal clear, and for a moment, time was standing still.

29 comments on this post

rachel dulseysays:

OH, My. I’ve traveled somewhere this morning, through the green, looking my eyes full of all that pink of tulips and gray of buildings you so graciously scatter out for the taking.

The green-beneath-the-water is simply so quenching in itself, and I thank you for all the “startlingly beautifuls” which you share so freely.

Yes, I’m coming home from that magical place, but this time, I’m coming to a gorgeous Indiana Spring.



There might be some ancient painting beneath the whitewash in that tiny chapel. What a little treasure.


Truly breathtaking scenes. St Andrews is a little gem. Don’t tell Mavis, but there’s always a bigger rock. Happy Easter!


remembering earlier photos of your parsonage, dear ben and seeing today’s….with charlie’s garden, speaks for your happiness together! st. andrew’s is exquisite, something for my soul to remember daily. that mavis with her rock look, very sweet…then comes mrs. black sheep with her newborn! be still my beating heart and then some. thank you for the english “wholesomeness” dear ben, you travel us to, this week’s is very special!


Janey Pughsays:

The images were transporting…. The old stone churches are so treasured. Thank you for this lovely post and al your joyous previous ones. Have a peaceful Easter.

Jennifer Phillippssays:

Gorgeous images as always…the tulips are fabulous…such soft and luscious colours! That little untouched church with its chalky walks and delightful enclosed pews is an amazing find. Hopefully you will have a lovely warm summer ahead.

Marjolein Holtessays:

Thankyou for sharing these nice pictures! It makes me happy to see all those tulips! Kind regards, Marjolein


So beautiful and peaceful.
Just how I like to spend my weekends when time allows.
Your photographs and musings bring me so much joy
Thank you

lissy parkersays:

Thank you for the visual vacation and garden tour. I am now full of gardening inspiration! Tulips, tulips and more tulips.
xo, lissy


Joyful! Joyful!


Wonderful photos and a relaxing blog.

P.s. Please get Mavis into rock rehab.

Diane Keanesays:

A lovely post, Ben. The little country churches, especially, have a quality I can only describe as ‘touching’–ancient and stalwart but also fragile, due to their age and today’s sometimes nonchalant attitude where quiet, old things are concerned. The simplicity of the buildings, the fields, the animals that will always be there, are balm for the heart. And then there are Charlie’s glorious tulips to gladden it! (Won’t the rocks hurt Mavis’s teeth?) As always thank you for sharing.



Seek out this book – ‘The churches the Victorians forgot’.

Stewart Winonasays:

Amazing…… truly my idea of heaven. thank you so very much for taking us there. also, love the reference to thomas hardy.


That church is a miracle! The Victorians don’t seem to have laid a hand on it–except to save it from ruin.

Tove Mauritzsonsays:

A glass of wine, Grieg´s piano concerto and your pictures puts the world to rights after a gloomy day. Thank you!


Took my breath away. Thank you for taking us along on these journeys , it is such a generous gift. Thank you for sharing these New Olde Things, so full of beauty, care and creative spirit. These, and kindness, keeps the world spinning on its axis despite all. Wishing you and Charlie (and Mavis!) health, joy and peace.


How do you do it? Each time I think you can’t possibly have something extraordinary to share you come through with pictures and words that spark such joy and thoughtfulness.
It’s a mystery.

Thank you, Ben (and thanks, Charlie, for spotting the little chapel and the tulips, tulips, tulips!)

Randy Coxsays:

Thanks for the lovely photos! I live in North Carolina and our temperature is as yours. Hot summer like afternoon sun this early seems strange!
Do you ever go to the Furniture Market here in North Carolina? It’s coming up on the 22 of April, spring market. There is another in October. Thanks for the inspiring words and photos.
Randy Cox

Ashley Levisays:

Thank you again! Please don’t change a thing.


Tulips! Blue skies! Clear cool water! Beautiful mom and baby! My thanks to you and yours. P.S. Labs never stop digging! Denise

Patricia Taylorsays:

I’m very contented with my lot but when I look at your
beautiful pictures and read your words there is just a
tiny twinge of envy – just love your blog and it gets
my week off on the right foot every time – thank you.


Hi Ben: I can only marvel at the abundant tulips in bloom. What glorious shapes and colours! In concrete-jungle Hong Kong where we live, we dream about rolling green landscapes and atmospheric buildings that your pictures capture so perfectly. Thanks for your thoughtful reflections and inspiring images.

Alison Lewissays:

Sooo soothing, beautiful and comforting – the very thing we need at such a concerning time with the horror and ugliness happening in the world at this moment and thank you so much.


Your beautiful blog really is a balm for the soul.The world is in such a state at the moment that one is at a loss but your lovely photos & soothing words give a moment of respite. Thank you for sharing your remarkable gift(s) with us all.


Beautiful images Ben your garden looks amazing the tulips are so vibrant. It really has been a wonderful spring the warm sunshine waking everything up the colours are beautiful flowers fields and blue skies what better way to lift the spirit.I love the photo of the goat with her calf cannot wait to see your pics when the cows return to the fields.The tiny chapel is wonderful our churches are such a special part of our landscape and a long lasting symbol of our faith our lives and for some a final resting place.I too visited a local church at the weekend it is in Kinver Staffordshire l wish l could share the view from the church and it’s idyllic location. A beautiful church inside too they were holding a coffee morning l was the only visitor l thought it would be crowded the Reverend and so a few church friends who were helping were the only ones there so sad that so many of us have other priorities in life that we forget to community and worship are so greatly needed in our society.We must preserve our churches for future generations so other people can get peace a sense of belonging and unity in a fragmented world.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Dear Ben – I found the images and story and your words about this church and little village very moving. I’m so pleased the church has been looked after and is still in use. x

Judith Haxtonsays:

The tulips are glorious~~~ and the pond brings to mind the paintings of the Pre Raphaelites, beautiful and sad at the same time.


Watching the Masters on tape and reading your blog at the same time. The blog won…that last paragraph filled my eyes with tears.

Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.