Wednesday, 30 January 2013

With JS Bach in Marlborough

I seem to be chasing JS Bach around Wiltshire!  Life has been rather quiet since the choral workshop all day last Saturday.  Singing for six hours is somewhat exhausting, and on Sunday I did very little, except nibble biscuits and watch simple programmes on the television, with my reclining chair tilted back to an almost bed like position.  I was weary, and had every intention of being bone idle for the whole day.

By Monday I was awake again, and took a short walk in the morning, just before the rain set in and stayed for the rest of the day.   On Tuesday afternoon I went to the cinema to see "Quartet," an enchanting film about a smart retirement home for elderly musicians, all of whom had seen better days.  The dialogue was sharp, and a group of mature actors portrayed the stylish, elderly musicians with their assortment of ailments and idiosyncrasies to a T.  The film included excerpts from opera and various pieces of classical music, which in the "surround sound" of a large cinema, sounded wonderful.  It is a film worth seeing.   The photo above shows Celia walking up the steps to Marlborough College Chapel, the venue of last night's organ recital.  Every year the college gives free recitals for those with an interest in organ music, and they provide an opportunity for the music staff and young organ scholars to perform in public.

This slightly fuzzy photo of the chapel,  shows centre, last night's organist, as he prepared to play works by JS Bach (my man,)  Samuel Wesley, Herbert Howells, Olivier Messiaen and Charles-Marie Widor.   The recital began with Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, which sent me into raptures of delight.  How did this man live with such music in his head.  His every hour  must have been filled with the sound of music coursing through his head.   

Olivier Messiaen's "Joie et Clarte des Corps Glorieux No. 6" was the one unorthodox piece in the programme, with many discordant sounds, but with some definite shape to the music.  He has been referred to as the composer who writes "wrong note" music, but when heard live,  his sounds bombard your senses with vibration and emotion.   What I may have disregarded when heard on the radio,  became a living being when played before my very eyes and ears.

The present chapel organ is the sucessor to the college's first organ installed in 1876 by Forster and Andrews of Hull.  It was enlarged and modernised many times between 1914 and 1988, but by 2005 it was becoming an increasingly unsatisfactory instrument to play. 

A new organ was commissioned, and because no British company could be found to install a new instrument, after much searching the contract went to "Von Beckerath of Hamburg."  The organ blends with north German traditions, the French Symphonic School and with the great Victorian era of British organ building.   The pipes from the original organ were not replaced, as it was felt that their tonal quality could not be improved upon.  The new organ was dedicated at a Festal Evensong on February 4th 2007 by the Bishop of Salisbury, with an opening recital given by Simon Preston.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

With Johann Sebastian Bach in Bath

This was the lunch time scene yesterday at Pulteny Bridge in the centre of Bath.  The River Avon was flooded with melted snow and heavy rain that fell overnight.   The city was, as usual, full of foreign visitors and students, there never seems to be a time, when this city is quiet.

I was in the city to attend a choral workshop, and performance of part of the "St John Passion" by JS Bach, (my hero.)   The "City of Bath Bach Choir"  hosted the event in the church of  "St Michael's Without,"   with our conductor was Nigel Perrin, a wonderfully enthusiastic man, who worked hard all day, to encourage us to sing the passion with great feeling and understanding.  Fortunately I have sung the work several times before, although it took me the first hour to remember many of the chorals and choruses.  I had just about got into full swing, when it was time to come home after a wonderful day of singing.

The photo above shows part of the choir of almost 175 singers.  To the left sit the sopranos, to the right the altos, and somewhere at the back a handful of tenors and basses.  Every choir seems to have a shortage of male singers!    Sir Thomas Beecham, the great conductor of many years back, is reputed to have said, "Never be rude to the wife of a tenor," meaning, if you can keep his wife sweet, she may allow her husband sing in a choir!

I took the photo after lunch, as we were waiting for the final run through to begin, before we sang part of the work in concert form,  with Nigel as the narrator.  The Passion contains many beautiful chorals, the themes of which are so sad, that I always want to cry.   But I managed to hold back the tears, and thoroughly enjoy the day.

Above can be seen Nigel our conductor, talking over points in the score with Marcus Sealy our accompanist.   Nigel Perrin was a founder member of the "King's Singers," a group of choral scholars from King's College, Cambridge, who formed a quartet in the early 1960's,  to sing a wide variety of songs,.  They became very famous, and toured the world, and appeared on  television singing their close harmony songs.  The group, with new singers of course, still perform today.

 We had problems initially with the piano, as it was not loud enough to be heard above our singing, and especially by the gentlemen sitting in the back rows.  After much juggling around with microphones here, there and everywhere, a louder sound was produced.    It would have been much better if a loud organ had accompanied us, but we achieved a good sound.   We all had a good time, and came home feeling that we knew and understood much more about this great piece of choral writing.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

More Homework

I dutifully studied my singing homework for Tuesday evening, only for the rehearsal to be cancelled because of heavy snow blocking the road from Swindon to Devizes.   Our conductor lives in Swindon, and had she set out early, she might have arrived here, but certainly would not have got home that night.   

Today a thaw has set in, and our weekly market day took place for the first time without strong gusts of wind, heavy rain and snowfalls.  The weather over that last few weeks has been atrocious, and now the big worry is about what will happen when the snow melts,  as  countrywide,  the saturated ground has not capacity to absorb anymore water.   Help! 

I've now started listening to and learning the notes of Johannes Brahms's "Ein Deutsches Requiem,"  a German Requiem, which we are singing in sombre German.   Brahms was born in Hamburg in on 13th May 1833, and composed this work between 1865 and 1868.  It is a large scale work for chorus and orchestra, with soprano and baritone soloists.   The work is Brahms's longest composition, has seven movements and lasts approximately 70 to 80 minutes,   Unlike the long tradition of Requiems in Latin, Brahms wrote this in his native German language.   

Brahms's friend, Robert Schumann died in July 1856,  and his mother in February 1865,  and it is thought that these two deaths were the motivating factor for the Requiem's composition.   Although composed over several years, the final seven movement version was premiered in Leipzig on February 18th 1869.   Brahms died in 1897 and is buried in Vienna, the place where he'd spent most of his working life

The "Te Deum" was composed by Anton Dvorak, a Czech composer born in the town of Nelahozeves in 1841.   He came from a humble home, where  has father ran an inn and a butcher's shop.  Despites his son's obvious musical talents, there was little money for music lessons, although he learnt to plat the violin and played in amateur orchestras and sang in his local church choir.  He graduated from the organ school in Prague, and wrote his first compostion at the age of 20.  His later works incorporate the themes and folk songs of his native homeland.  He attracted the inter of Johnannes Brahms, who assisted him during his career.  

The "Te Deum" was performed for the first time on October 21st in the New York Hall with a choir of 250 singers and conducted by the composer.  He died of a stroke in May 1904 aged 63,  and his ashes are interned in Vysehrad Cemetry Prague.


Monday, 21 January 2013

Tuesday's Homework

These  two  walkers venture along the towpath  near  the  London Road bridge.  Although the snow is lovely to look at,  I shall be glad when it has gone.   I don't want to wear my hat and gloves anymore, as I'm fed up with "cabin fever and bad hair days."   I took a tentative short walk on Monday morning, and then came home for lunch, and to watch "Neighbours" which was, sadly, interrupted by an electrician who turned off all the power!   I caught up with "Neighbours" at 5.30pm, and I'm pleased to say that the two lead ladies are about to go into labour!

I tackled my choir homework last night!   I have to learn the following two pieces for the Devizes Chamber Choir.  Both look fairly straight forward, although I have learned, that no music is easy to sing well, even simple carols and nursery rhymes have their own particular challenges!

At the moment,  because our scores have not arrived, we are using the photocopied 1st and 4th movements from the Cherubini "Requiem."    Born Maria  Luigi Carlo Zenobio Salvatore Cherubini in Florence on or about the 8th September 1760, he was regarded as a musical prodigy, and studied with his father counterpoint and dramatic style at the age of six.  At 13 years of age he had already composed several religious works.  He later studied in Bologna and Milan, but spent most of his life working in France.  The "Requiem" was composed in 1816 to commemorate the anniversary of the execution of King Louise XVl of France.  Cherubini died in Paris in 1845.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in Saltzburg on 27th January 1756, was a prolific composer of the Classical era.  Mozart showed prodigious talent from early childhood, and was a competent keyboard and violin player by the age of five, and was also composing for and performing before European royalty.  Aged 17, he was engaged as a court musician in Saltzburg, but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position.   He eventually left Saltzburg to live and work in Vienna, where he achieved much fame, but little fortune.  A mystery surrounds his death, and he was survived by his wife Constanza and two sons.

Both these pieces look deceptively easy to sing!  The Chrubini contains some high and sustained notes for the sopranos, and it's never easy to find enough breath to hang on for more than 8 beats across two bars!   The Mozart is great fun, with a fast pace but too many notes!    I will eventually learn to fit the latin words to the fast paced music, at the moment I have to resort to "la li la li la li la la la."

Both works have a good tune, and  I do like to sing recognisable tunes in a regular key, and at a comfortable pace! (I think this is indicative of a closed musical mind!)  Sir Thomas Beecham once lamented that many modern composers of his era were unable to write anything with a good tune!    When asked if he had played any Stockhausen, he replied with a "No, but I trod in some once!"  


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Snow on the Roof Garden

This view of the  "White Bear," was taken three floors up from my snowy roof garden.    The 16th century public house stands opposite my flat in New Park Street., and was short of business at lunchtime on Friday, when everyone stayed at home to eat in the warmth.   Devizes is cloaked in snow at the moment, and the freeze is set to continue into next week.   The choir rehearsal at Marlborough College was cancelled on Friday evening,  but Simon our conductor, has sent us some homework to study before next Friday's rehearsal.   We must learn the 1st and last movements of the Brahms,  and also the first movement of the Dvorak, so that will keep me busy all week.     He ended his email with the words, "Do not play with yellow snow!"

This view is over the roof of the "Castle Hotel" next to my block of flats, and towards the distant Wadworth Brewery, the chimney of which can be seen on the horizon,  to the right of the nearest tv aerial.  I stayed indoors all day Friday, and nearly ended up with cabin fever and feeling the effects of drinking too much tea and eating too many chocolate biscuits. 

This morning I donned my walking boots, had a good walk around the town and did some food shopping.  At 2.30pm this afternoon, I meet a friend for a 3.5 mile circular walk along "Quaker's Walk" and the foot of "Roundway Down."   We both felt refreshed in the bracing cold wind, and finished the afternoon with a nice cup of tea and biscuits at her home,  accompanied by "Maxi" the dachshund chewing on a juicey bone.

Nobody here felt like sitting outside for a spot of fresh air.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Unemployed Bird Scarer!

The bird scarer had little to do! The ground was so frozen, that the birds couldn't peck at the furrowed earth, and were thus denied a pice of the tasty crop.   By midmorning on Wednesday the sun was warm, as we walked past the scarey face, that looks like a cross between an angry bird and me on a cold morning, when I have to get up out of bed.  I walked with a friend from the centre of Devizes along the frozen towpath to "The Crown" at Bishops Cannings.   It's a good, flat walk with much on interest to see and hear on and beside the canal.
The birds cheeped in the trees, and overhead we heard the call of a circling sparrowhawk, identified for me by my walking partner who has more knowledge of bird call that I, although I can recognise a territorial robin and a wren in the bushes.
It was a cold morning, and midway we popped into the pub for a welcome coffee and a warm up!  We took a short cut back to Devizes across the frozen fields, saving ourselves a mile of frozen mud and large puddles covered in swirling patterns of half frozen ice.

This wretched width of cold (thanks Philip Larkin) was seen from Laywood Bridge, with the distant hills of Salisbury Plain on the horizon.  Unfortunately heavy guns "crumped" all morning during army manoeuvers, which rather disturbed the peace and quiet.  

The ducks sit on the ice, while in the background two swans annoy the boat owner by tapping on the boat´s hull and demanding food.   I never fed the ducks or swans from my boat, because once they knew that I was a good source of easy food, they would wake me very early in the morning with their taps on the hull.   It was even worse in the mating session, when the tapping was accompanied by frantic squawking and fighting amongst the male ducks on the metal roof of the boat!   I must admit though, that I did enjoy being out there with  raw nature!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A Recital with Pianist Joanna Macgregor and a Bat.

The recital by pianist Joanna Macgregor on Sunday afternoon in the concert hall at Marlborough College, should have included music from "Die Fledermaus,"  (German for bat) for, during the interval a bat joined us in the auditorium, and much to our amusement, swooped happily over our heads.  He/she timed his/her flight well, because,  as Joanna reappeared for the second half, the bat flew into the curtains, and remained there to enjoy the   "Three Intermezzi" by Brahms and Beethoven's "Waldstein" sonata in C major.   I hope his little ears were well tuned in!    It is so good to hear live music, and during the first half we'd  listened to Bela Bartok's the "Out of Doors Suite," an atmospheric piece of music, using folk themes, and with great contrasts between the loud and soft passages.    The music is not quite my "cup of tea" and I would not listen to it on a CD, but seeing and hearing the interpretation live, added an exciting edge to the work.   

The recital was one of the College's series of autumn and winter concerts.   I went with a friend who had managed to acquire two tickets from another friend who, unfortunately could attend. I must really open my mind to modern music, and not stay so faithful to my dearly beloved JS Bach and everything that has been composed before 1850!    I once saw Benjamin Britten's opera "The Taming of the Screw," and was bowled over by it, but its not music I would listen to by choice.  Perhaps I will tackle some Stockhausen this year!

The "Steinway" concert grand piano, played by Joanna Macgregor.
This  photo was taken on my  mobile phone and is somewhat fuzzy, because last week at coffee morning in the "Black Swan" I spilt my coffee all over the phone.  I dried it out with tissues, but forgot to clean the camera lens, and I now have several photos that look as if they were taken on a foggy evening.

A bat appears somewhere in this photo, I'm not sure where, but he/she is somewhere to be seen!    Stage lighting hangs from the ceiling, and the curtains are closed, so maybe the bat thought it was dusk, and ventured out for a display of aeriel acrobatics!  No one screamed during the taking of this photograph.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Singing again in Marlborough College Choir.

"Here we are again, as happy as can be, all good singers, and jolly good company!"  Rehearsals started last Friday for our annual Easter concert at Marlborough College.  This year we are singing "Ein Deutsches Requiem" by Brahms, and singing in German, much to the consternation of all,  except me of course, and the few other Germanophiles!   
Above Simon our conductor looks through the music.  His wife has just given birth to a second son called Samuel, and we caught up with all the news from the past ten months, as the choir last met in March 2012.  We were also introduced to our new accompanist, a young piano graduate from the Royal College of Music.  She plays the Steinway grand piano left.

The Requiem is a sad but romantic piece of music, written after the death in 1856 of Brahms´s friend Robert Schumann, and nine year later in 1865, that of his mother.   We cannot be exactly sure what prompted the writing of this great piece of music, but Brahms was deeply affected by the death of both these people.  The second work in our concert is Dvorak's "Te Deum" sung with great gusto in Latin. The score looks very black in places with  many crotchets and semiquavers, a sure sign that the orchestra will be very busy and noisy, particularly in the brass and timpani sections!

Simon sorts his music during the interval, while the sopranos in the foreground, and the altos, background, relax and chat among themselves.  Over half the choir have sung the Requiem before, so that makes learning it so much easier.  With good singers leading the way, the rest of us will be carried along!   I have a CD of the work, and will listen to it over and over again, and follow the notes in my score.  The entire Requiem lasts 90 minutes, and Te Deum, a much  shorter work, will be easy to learn.

Here is the whole choir, with the tenors and basses, (never many in any choir) sitting in the back rows, to the right in the photo.   The concert hall is being renovated this year, and is not well lit, especially for those singers in the back rows.  I sit about centre of this photo, and have plenty of light to read my score with ease.  We have only 10 rehearsals, and our concert takes place at the end of March.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Frome Town Trail in Bright Sunshine

We returned to Frome on Friday morning, to follow the town trail, and listen to the history of this lovely little town in Somerset, just over the border from Wiltshire.  Thirteen of us took the bus, firstly the No. 49 doubledecker to Trowbridge, where most walkers went upstairs, although two of us stayed downstairs.  Riding on the top deck of a doubledecker makes me feel very quiesy!  At Trowbridge we changed for the Frome bus, and arrived in a town bathed in sunshine.   

We enjoyed a guided tour, with much walking up and down steps, narrow streets and damp little alleyways.  The town has a rich variety of buildings of historical interest,  and connections with the wool trade, weaving and the foundery industry.  At one time the town was larger than Bath, and vied with the city as being a very desirable place in which to live and work.

This Valentine's Day lamp post is a special street light for lovers, that is lit on Valentine's Day each year.  The red postbox has GR embossed upon it, and dates from the 19th century.  It must be cosy to sit here on a winter's evening, well wrapped up in hat and gloves, holding the hand of your true love!  

This old cobbold street contains many interesting little shops, all full of unusual goodies.  Several of us have decided to return again soon with plenty of money,  for a day's shopping trip.  The street is traffic free, and with the many little cafes for tea, coffee and cake, it will make a lovely day out.  Spring must arrive first, with the sun shining in a blue sky.   We don't do rain!

When the wool trade declined, Frome began to embrace new engineering industries.  From 1685 Cockeys cast church bells, and later  began the production of cast iron components for the gas industry, and in 1832 Frome was lit with gas lights.   The old old steam hammer above is a monument to "John Webb Singer and Sons'"  whose castings factory stood in Eagle Lane.  In 1848 John Singer, then 30 years old, was a clockmaker, and established the factory, which later started casting munitions and statues.  The Statue of Justice above the Old Bailey was cast in Frome, as was the statue of Boadicea on London's Embankment, and the statue of King Arthur in Winchester town centre.   A  housing estate now stands on the former site.

We enjoyed lunch in the "Old Bath Arms" a Georgian building  with fine beaded windows.  We drank beer, pear cider in my case, tea and coffee, and enjoyed the atmosphere of this fine room with its open fire.   The landlord is South African, and cooks a tasty variety of homemade burgers.  I savoured the chicken and salad version, and excellent it was too.   We tumbled out, and caught  the bus at 1.40pm  and were back in Devizes at 3pm.  What an interesting  day in bright sunshine.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Sunrise with thoughts of Blog Entries and Wolfi Mozart!

I began Tuesday with this view from my bedroom window.  I can open my blinds, and on my pillow, rest my head on my hands, and watch the sun arise in all her glory.  What a sight it was that morning, with the sun reappearing after so many days of greyness.   The day was to be busy, because, among other things, I had to chose and print off a blog entry for our afternoon writing group.  I spend many hours writing, and if I´m not careful, I will develop square eyes through staring at a computer monitor for too long.    

Just before Chirstmas I tried to leave the "Creative Writing Group."  Hands were  raised in horror by the other members, and  they said, "No!"   So a truce was arranged, and now I will present a blog entry with historical interest at our meetings.   I find it easy to write newsy blog entries, and with the help of photographs, I can write an interesting article at the drop of a hat.  That´s not the case when writing of a short story!  That demands much thought, blood, sweat and tears, and I don´t have enough time to write short stories, particulary when I´m concentrating on writing as much German as I can.

The Devizes Chamber Choir met on Tuesday evening for the first time this year , when we practised Mozart´s "Te Deum."  This short, exciting piece of music, lasting about seven minutes in toto, was written when Wolfgang was 13 years old!   I was still reading girly stories about horses at that age, but this young man, although dominated by his father, was writing these masterpieces at a tender age.   

We are singing in latin of course, and much discussion ensues about the correct pronunciation of the words, particulary the "ch."    Fortunately we have a latin expert singing with us, so all will be well.   The score is printed and written in German, so no problems with the universal language of musical notation,  but I have learnt a few new words from the text.  Every little new word goes into my long term memory, it´s the getting it to stay there that is another matter!

Monday, 7 January 2013

A Devizes Circular Walk, via a White Cat, the Castle and St John´s Churchyard.

I've walked past black cats before on my rambles, and know that they are supposed to bring good luck,  but what does the passing of a  white cat herald for the New Year!  Ideas post haste to Vicki please!   On Sunday I did my first walk with my new "Sunday Walks" group, all two of us that day.   Several friends want to join, but most had commitments, but promise to come along next Sunday.   I like walking, and it is made easier when accompanied by other walkers.  Puss was friendly, in fact she following me down the path to the churchyard steps, which are steep to climb, and  she obviously didn't want to expend energy and follow me, so we parted company.

I passed Devizes castle, a Victorian folly, which is built on the foundations of the former 11th century Norman stronghold.   The castle has a turbulent history, having been fought over, burnt down, used as a prison for Princess Matilda, used by the Royalist  to defend Devizes during the Civil War in the mid 17th century, when the Parliamentarians were bombarding the town with canonballs from the top of Jump Hill.   Queen Isabella, the wife of King John gave birth to a son here, and the crown jewels were  hidden here for safe keeping against a French invasion.

The castle is now the private home of an American family.   Back in the 1930s the people of Devizes held the town pageant here, and must have had a lot of fun dressing up in medieval garb, and fighting one another with wooden swords.   I expect  the lady's dresses and headgear were splendid, and it must have been great fun flirting with the medieval knights on their make believe horses.

 The Millenium Cross in St John's churchyard was erected to celebrate the year 2000.  The photo shows the cross,  against a background of pollarded trees and the crenellated castle tower in the background.

The obelisk seen to the left of the photo, marks the burial place of five coach passengers, who were drowned in Drew's Pond in the 19th century, when their coach left the track and overturned into the water, drowning all onboard.  There are many interesting 17th cent tombstones in the churchyard.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Semington to Trowbridge via the K & A Canal.

We took a walk along the towpath this morning from Semington to Trowbridge.  It was a pleasant walk, flat of course, and with few puddles and mud pits, because we deliberately stayed on towpath, track and paths.  The weather has taken a turn for the better, with NO rain, although the skies are still grey and overcast.    A record amount of rain has fallen on Great Britain this year, and the ground is completely waterlogged, with water overflowing the bore holes, becuase it has nowhere to drain away.   The canal level is raised, and the overspill weirs are working "nineteen to the dozen."

The boats along this stretch of the canal are moored against private land, and not beside the towpath.  The canal is managed by the recently formed "Canal and River Trust," which took over from "British Waterways" last year.  Boats moored towpath side are subject to  regulations that govern the time they can stay in one place.   Those moored against private land pay the landowner a mooring fee, a portion of which is paid to the C & R Trust, as the trust owns the water and the first metre of canalside.

Above can be seen narrowboats of various sizes.  Some are used for holidays, some for people who live onboard all year round.  The cost of mooring is based on the length of the boat, the smaller the boat, the cheaper the fee.  Boats need a yearly licence to use the water, plus boat insurance and a boat safety certificate.  It is recommended that boats carry carbon monoxide alarms, as when sleeping aboard, beds tend to be below air vent level, and several boaters die each year for poisoning caused by the fumes from wood burning stoves  which are not properly ventilated.  The gas is odourless, and difficult to detect without an alarm.

We walked past this imposing building, the main entrance of the old "Semington workhouse."  Built in 1838, to designs by HE Kendall,  the Melksham Union workhouse was built in the "Poor Law Commissioner's" standard cruciform plan.  It housed the poor and destitute, and included people of all ages, from children to the very elderly.   The inmates were separated, and lived in the different parts of the buiilding, with their own workplaces and exercise areas.  Even married couples were separated, but allowed to meet on Sunday.   Life must have been very difficult!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Day 5 Mile Walk Around the Devizes "Bounds" (The East Route to Avoid the Mud.)

Just a short write up this evening as, after a 5 mile walk with soggy conditions underfoot, I feel quite weary tonight.   I'm tempted to watch the traditional New Year's Concert from Vienna showing now on the tv, but I cannot sit still for too long, otherwise I will drop off to sleep again!   Twelve of us turned out today for our walk, which took us around the easterly route of the Devizes "Bounds" the medieval boundary of the town of Devizes.   It's a mostly flat walk, although the uphill section is on pavement, which is not my favourite surface on which to walk.  But it was not muddy!   We usually take the westerly route, but that involves a long downhill slope into a farmyard,  that is muddy, even in drought conditions.   Quite how deep the mud is at the moment after weeks of torrential rain,  I cannot imagine.    

Above we can be seen standing in front of the imposing former entrance of the Devizes Asylum.  The hospital was closed many years ago, and is now converted into flats and smart town houses.   J researched the history of the hospital,  and she can be seen in her red hat, reading her prepared tract.

We walked into "Drew's Pond," a nature reserve, which was once a medieval burial ground, and later used for the burial of the patients and staff who had died in the asylum.  Every year a short memorial service is held by a local priest, as an act of remembrance for the many poor pauper souls who now lie in unmarked graves.  Some tombstones remain, although it is impossible after all these years to read the inscriptions thereon.  J once again had done her homework, and gave us a brief history of the area.   We walked back into Devizes, where some  walkers went for lunch in the "Silk Mercer," and I came straight home for a cuppa and a snooze!