As often as possible, I tried to stay one extra day to rest up after a particularly long stretch of the Walk. In Fownhope, that gave me an opportunity to experience a little of village life. Not hard, really, it is a tiny place. But I just loved it so.
Even before I got there, I was already a local celeb, “the lady walking from Ross by herself.” I had met a three local lads (average age 75) having their pints and tipples at the New Inn after my dinner the previous day, and they invited me to join them for a sherry the next day (Sunday, this day). Earlier, when I was visiting the great Norman-era church, St. Mary’s, across from the B&B, I was invited to a service the next morning, at which the Bishop would preside over some confirmations and a baptism. I also decided on dinner at the local gastropub, The Green Man, which despite that contemporary culinary descriptor, is about 500 years old. It is also a posh inn which I could not afford.
I am glad I decided on Bowens. This breakfast!! It was overcast and chilly, but I just HAD to enjoy this view. The only thing missing from this Almost Full English was the baked beans and black sausage.
The church service was typical C of E, rather long, made longer by the confirmations and baptism, but I lingered after and spoke at length to several people. The pastor gave me a nice tour of the church, which has parts dating back to 1140.
A little history of the chest, below:
Near the font is an ancient wooden chest, carved from a single piece of oak, and dated to around 1325. The chest measures 9 feet long, weighs almost half a tonne and was for many years hidden in the belfry. Which raises an interesting question; how on earth did the parishioners of Fownhope get this huge chest up to the belfry in the first place, and why?
One theory is that it was hidden during the Civil War, to keep the church plate safe. Nothing was ever found within the chest, but a local record suggests that a pair of silver candlesticks were stored there and these were later moved to East Shere Priory.
I spent most of the afternoon resting and packing up some of my stuff before heading out for the evening.
I met up with the lads for a couple of drinks — they were doing it up with prosecco and sherry, and we did some toasts and talked about politics (they were all very pro-Brexit, only one in a somewhat racist way). But really, it was mostly jolly and we had a grand time. I left them to dine at The Green Man.
I got to bed early for an early start to Hereford. Only 6.75 miles by the book (mmhmm), little elevation, and the third-to-last leg of my walk! I was now officially a few miles past the official halfway mark.
8 May, 2022
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