Monday, 3 June 2013

Kinoulton: the search for the old graveyard

The avenue of Poplar trees

Today's walk was a bit different: we were in search of an old graveyard on the outskirts of Kinoulton in Nottinghamshire. We were there visiting our friends Sally and Malcolm. Malcolm knew more or less where it was and the search provided a nice focus for a local walk on a lovely sunny afternoon.

We set out from near the Nevile Arms pub along Owthorpe Road and soon turned left into a beautiful avenue of poplars. They are a memorial to the 184 officers and men of the ninth battalion, Sherwood Foresters who were killed in the battle of the Somme in 1916. Until 1919 most of the land around Kinoulton was owned by the Nevile family, commemorated in the name of the pub. The estate was bought by Sir Jesse Hind who planted the trees (his son was one of the dead). The trees you see today are obviously not the original ones and in fact were replanted by the Parish Council for the Millenium.

On the left was a wonderful field of buttercups.

At the end of the avenue of poplars you reach the Grantham canal. It dates from 1797, but like many canals only had a short productive life before being eclipsed by a new railway and left to decline. There has been some restoration but the green algae sludge suggests more is needed. The effect is rather surreal.

Now we climbed the hill to the derelict Vimy Ridge Farm. This was also part of Sir Jesse's new estate and was renamed by him. The original Vimy Ridge near Arras in northern France was captured by the Germans in 1914 and only taken by a heroic Canadian attack in 1917.  It is often claimed to be the only unequivocal success of the allies during the war in France. After the war the farm was used to train ex-Serviceman and later orphans in agriculture

The splendid water tower is a landmark for miles around and from a distance could easily be taken for a medieval keep or an 18th century folly.

We headed on in the same direction across fields and then turned left along a tracked with fields on both sides. We were now entering the target area. We understood that the gravestones were few in number but still standing. We scrutinised several fields without success and were a bit disheartened to reach the road without success. We decided to ask at a nearby house and we told to retrace our steps and we would find the gravestones in a field on the right. The lady we spoke to said that the gravestones were lying flat.

This was the field we were were directed to.

A delightful field but not a gravestone in sight! We spread out: surely there must be some trace? Eventually the cry went up "I've found them" - in the next field and standing up as originally expected.

This was the graveyard of St Wilfrid's church which was abandoned and demolished in 1793. A new parish church (St Luke's) was built about the same time in what is now the centre of the village and it seems that the coming of the Grantham canal was the decisive factor in the movement of the village's centre of gravity.

The gravestones date from the early 1700s and are mostly slate. This one especially caught my eye.

We partially retraced our steps along the lane and then headed downhill to reach the long main street and return to the start.

Conditions: sunny and warm.

Distance: we managed to walk about five miles.

Map: we didn't use a map - and the graveyard is not shown on the OS map.

Rating: three and a half stars.

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