July 13 – Now I know why old people used to get dowager’s hump – it’s from trying not to hit their heads on ceilings of old buildings intended for people only four feet tall! We had our full English and walked out of Stanton, straightening up as best we could. Only eight miles planned for today, with a tourist stop in the middle.
The first field we walked through had a series of plowman’s humps – perhaps to allow better drainage of water? Not sure, but they were fun to walk across.
Soon we came to the little village of Stanway, where there was a big manor house next to a little church. The church was nothing much inside, but outside it sported some little faces dating from the 1100s.
We climbed a big hill, then rested on a bench. Thanks, Pinky Dickens.
By lunchtime we reached Hailes Church, built in 1149, famous for the medieval paintings on its walls, dating from the 13th century. A gryphon and a basilisk, amid heraldic designs, and some elephant-like creature with wings.
St. Christopher with baby Jesus on his shoulder. His is the largest image.
Stained glass taken from the ruined Hailes Abbey. We saw another piece of this yesterday in another church.
We then walked across the street to see the ruins of Hailes Abbey, built in 1246, and run by Cistercian monks. When King Henry VIII decommissioned the monasteries, taking all the gold and smashing all the saint statues in 1539, the townspeople finished the job by plundering everything worth taking, including most of the bricks. The grass growing on top of the walls is called soft-capping, planted deliberately to prevent further damage by erosion.
The Abbey’s claim to fame was a relic said to contain Christ’s blood, which brought pilgrims and their offerings from miles around.
We ate lunch at the Abbey, then got back on the road.
We walked through our first cornfield. These plants don’t look happy – they need some rain!
Before we knew it, we were in Winchcombe, another historic town.
Tonight we are checked in to a 15th century room, with a bathroom door made for munchkins. Unfortunately, before we could get too comfy, we were told that a plumber was coming over to fix the leaky shower. (This bathroom had been upgraded to reflect the 20th century.) No problem, we went out and had dinner. When we returned, we found that the plumber was gone and the water to our room had been turned off – no sink, no toilet, nothing. The manager apologized and offered us a bottle of wine, saying they had no other rooms available. What?!!!
I’m sorry to say that I went full New York on the poor manager. Within 10 minutes, she checked other hotels for availability (no dice), then called the owner who personally drove in to ferry us to The Lodge – a £275. a night upscale place outside of town that has never seen a backpacker. I’m writing this from my Sleep Number bed with full head raising and reclining features, sipping my sparkling water while my socks dry on the electric towel warmer. Who says Friday the 13th is bad luck?