Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Duntisbournes

Hidden deep in the Cotswold Hills are four small hamlets each going by the name of Duntisbourne, taking their name from the idyllic Dun Valley named after an Anglo-Saxon chief; the river, although not much more than a brook, meanders through all four communities, down their roads, through their gardens, and over their meadows as it flows onwards to join the River Churn and eventually the River Thames.
The hamlets of Duntisbourne Rouse, Duntisbourne Abbot, Middle Duntisbourne and Duntisbourne Leer all have typical honey coloured Cotswold stone cottages, houses, barns, and share two lovely churches
The River Dun trickles along road gullies into a shallow ford where vehicles cross and then
 continues merrily on its journey across the meadows. 
St. Michael's church, Duntisbourne Rouse

 Sitting on the side of a steep grassy hill looking down into the valley the tiny church of St. Michael is enchanting
Everything is in miniature, the tiny saddle-back tower, Perpendicular with an Elizabethan upper stage and a lovely stone slate roof. The nave is Saxon as can be seen from the typical herring-bone construction in the wall to the right.
A view of the whole church showing the early Norman chancel 

The slope enabled the Norman's to build a crypt below the chancel large enough to house a chapel where, conveniently for us, a seat had been placed - a perfect spot to enjoy lunch looking down over the valley
There is a small cross on the floor of the crypt which is lit by the early morning sun through the glassless small Norman window above the seat 
The church has a calm and serene interior with simple lime-washed walls
Traces remain of C13th medieval wall painting in the Norman chancel
A Norman arch leads from the Anglo-Saxon nave into the chancel
Early Gothic Font
The entrance and exit paths have gates unlike any I have encountered before resembling a pair of scissors
The departing pathway was strewn with early spring flowers

82 comments:

  1. St. Michael's sits in a beautiful setting. Amongst those beautiful Cotswolds hills. It looks so serene there , with the farms dotted about. Would suit me fine.. country living, but the weather not.
    The Anglo Saxons and Normans left such history behind.
    I was wondering if those little square holes in the walls , were for birds or not ! many of them below the eves of the old stone cottages.!
    Would love to know the secret of the scissor gate! how very different. when closed it looks like an x.. maybe means no entry.):- lovely post Rosemary, very interesting.
    wishing you a happy week.
    val xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Val - The holes are 'dovecotes' many of the old house have them. They were a handy source of fresh food long ago.
      The scissor gate is a mystery to me, as it would not keep out small animals such as foxes etc, only horses or cattle. I think that it is mainly for the use of humans. It is quicker and easier to open than the proper gate which sits alongside it.

      Delete
  2. A tour around in a very pretty country, such nice pictures of the houses and the surroundings. The scissors gate is very special.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you - I am pleased that you enjoyed the little tour in this lovely area.

      Delete
  3. Hello Rosemary, These ancient stone buildings in their green and wooded landscapes have a magical appearance; I really have to find a way to live in England for at least a couple of years! That channel for the river seems awfully shallow--perhaps rivers in the U.S. are more variable in their flow. And in Taiwan, they have dedicated huge flood plains alongside the rivers to control the occasional bad storms. If I had to pick a favorite detail in this post, it would be that charming Medieval wall painting.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jim - although it is called the River Dun it is really just a stream or a brook - a 'baby' river which is one of many tributaries that eventually make their way into the River Thames.
      The Medieval wall painting done in red ochre with stylised masonry and flower design is, I agree, very pleasing.

      Delete
  4. Rosemary, How quaint. All is very old yet so inviting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a delightful ancient church set in a lovely location

      Delete
  5. A magical spot...another place I have never heard of, and so beautiful Rosemary. Jx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is quite difficult to find this little church, but after a few visits I think that I have now got the measure of it.

      Delete
  6. * sigh * England is just so friggin scenic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a particularly idyllic spot Debra but the whole country is not like this.

      Delete
  7. Dear Rosemary, I don't think that I will live long enough to see such fabulous clumps of Snowdrops in my garden. Are those dovecots I see in some of the first photos? They look so clean. Maybe the interior is blocked as we should be doing in one of our buildings. Mostly, I love seeing your ancient stone buildings. What artistry and skill they represent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Gina - they are dovecots, but I imagine that they have been blocked up as there is no need for them these days, and they the doves do make any awful mess.
      I think that Cotswold stone architecture is very pleasing on the eye.

      Delete
  8. Dear Rosemary,

    You have no idea how much I appreciate your sharing because I get insights to British life that I would never know otherwise. For example, I was completely unaware of road gullies, and now that makes me wonder if we have anything like them in the U.S. I find a great charm in such things.

    I like the clever design of the 13th-century wall painting, and the tiny window, perhaps a statement of the value of glass in those days. Going back to the wall painting, I could imagine that Pugin would have been inspired by such a design.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mark - you are correct when you mention Pugin and I would also add Burgess. Both were medievalists and this is precisely the kind of design that excited them both.
      I wonder if you will find anything about road gullies in the States? I imagine though that you must have Fords crossing roads in the countryside.

      Delete
    2. I would imagine such things can be found in New England, and I'm thinking of Vermont in particular.

      Delete
    3. I have visited Vermont, and imagine that you could be right.

      Delete
  9. We'll be staying in the Cotswold when we go to England this year and we will definitely go looking for St. Michaels. Thank you for this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mac n'Janet - if you contact me nearer the time I will give you instructions on how to find St. Michael's church. It is quite difficult during the summer months as the little entrance porch shown on my post gets hidden with all of the greenery from the hedgerows. I have missed it a couple of times myself and had to turn the car around, and I know where it is.

      Delete
  10. Thank you, Rosemary, for this enchanting excursion! I have never been to England, and you make me long to travel there even more than I already did!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you will manage to come at some time in the not too distant future Merisi

      Delete
  11. Just loved looking at your pictures ..... the Cotswolds is such a lovely area - haven't visited for quite sometime, MUST do so later this year.

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many hidden places and valleys in the Cotswolds, and although I have lived here for nearly 20 years I still keep finding places that are right on my doorstep and which are new discoveries for me.

      Delete
  12. The Cotswolds at its best! I´m longing visiting your country again, walking on public footpaths, crossing old graveyards and wonderful churches..... Thank you for showing us pictures of hidden places, those are the things where we are always looking for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope that you have the chance to visit the Dun Valley as I am sure you would enjoy walking there

      Delete
  13. I am looking forward to being in the country again, even though not in this part of the world. Early Spring is a wonderful time of year. I like all the pictures very much but the one which stood out was of the willows with their multi coloured shoots and dark trunks. Such beautiful trees, willows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those trees looked wonderful with their new red shoots against the blue sky last Saturday. I wonder where you are heading? I am off soon too on adventures new.

      Delete
  14. That is such beautiful hidden locations and the architecture is stunning. The church looks so simple and matched inside with that lovely display on the window sill of snowdrops. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The snowdrops were lovely and each window sill had a lovely basket of them on it.

      Delete
  15. Dear Rosemary,what a lovely place to visit!
    Amazing scenes!Wonderful series of pictures of this little church!
    I also like all those preety Spring flowers!Thank you for sharing!
    Wishing you a lovely week!
    Dimi...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Dimi - the colour of the Cotswold stone blended with the traditional vernacular architecture makes for a pleasing combination.

      Delete
  16. Is that near Cirencester? I have a feeling we looked at a house in one of the Duntisbournes once, a beautiful place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Jessica, the Dun flows into the Churn which flows through Cirencester. You go to the village of Daglingworth and from there take a complicated network of small lanes to the Duntisbournes.

      Delete
  17. Once again an interesting post. I love the Cotswolds. It is good to see those spring flowers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was looking pretty Susan even though the leaves are not out on the trees yet, but we have plenty of spring flowers now.

      Delete
  18. Cotswold architecture is often compared to where I live in France. Those Pigeon holes are common here too. It's not surprising that your area is so sought after (and unfortunately so expensive), a small cottage in one of the Duntisbournes would suit me fine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have had the same thoughts myself, and it also reminds me of rural stone architecture in parts of Italy too.

      Delete
  19. I can feel the spring there.
    Lovely old place. and nice images
    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely - I can confidently say 'spring has arrived here'.

      Delete
  20. What a beautiful area you live in - everything is just so picturesque and photographable. I love these simple churches you are showing us - looks like you are having glorious sunshine too. I should imagine those buildings with the holes in are pretty drafty to live in! It is lovely to be able to explore the county and find new surprises at every turn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although I have lived here for almost 20 years we are still discovering little churches, and hamlets which are right on our doorstep. It is because there are so many little valleys with tiny lanes running into them. Normally when I have lived in an area I know the terrain well, but not here.
      I imagine that the dovecote holes will have been blocked up so hopefully no drafts.

      Delete
  21. What an incredibly beautiful group of villages. The snowdrops are so pretty everywhere aren't they. The scissor gate is very unusual, I imagine that it is so that it allows people with dogs and so on to pass through easily? Thank you for taking us along on such a lovely visit. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I admired the scissor gate, such a simple but good solution.

      Delete
  22. The four Duntisbournes look like an enchanting place, Rosemary, with the lovely stone cottages, and the beautiful little Saxon church with its Celtic cross. It appears to be still in use, which is wonderful in something so ancient. The medieval wall painting is really sweet, and seems to match your purple spring flowers! Those scissor gates really are unusual, and I wonder when they were invented. Thank you for sharing another lovely place in your area. Lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know absolutely nothing at all about that scissor gate Patricia and have been unable to unearth anything on the internet either. Perhaps it was made by a local blacksmith with an inventive mind, most likely during the mid Victoria era.

      Delete
  23. There is something very touching about simple flowers in an old building which you have captured beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind comment, I thought that they beautifully reflected the serenity of the building.

      Delete
  24. Simply wonderful, Rosemary. A place to spend an idyllic day. Excellent photos - and I've not seen gates like that before, either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are a lot of unusual styles in this area which I have photographed for posts from time to time, but the scissor gate was a first for me. I can't find any information about it either, so I imagine it is a one off.

      Delete
  25. The church looked tiny indeed, until the second shot showed that it was on a hill. I see you answered the question about the square holes in the top of the house. Are those pretty common in those ancient homes?
    My husband and I drove from one end of England all the way to Scotland on our honeymoon (long ago) . I would love doing that again, but would take more time to pull off of the carriage way. Beautiful post. Janey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there are quite a few different types of dovecote in the area, some even in the churches and also in separate buildings. I did a post on them here if you are interested. As I mentioned to someone else they were a source of fresh meat in early times.
      http://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/dovecotes.html

      Delete
  26. I like the simplicity of the church, but a part form that I just can't get enough of the english countryside, so idyllic !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a particularly lovely spot Jane, completely unspoilt. Possibly because it is not the easiest of places to find.

      Delete
  27. In this post you capture the essence of what makes the Cotswolds so very special, Rosemary. The wonderful combination of the old stone buildings and unspoiled countryside is quite magical. I must get off the beaten track more when we visit my mother-in-law and explore some of these hidden gems.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many wonderful little places to visit in the Cotswolds that I do not understand why most visitors go to the same few places and wandering around in great crowds. Perhaps I should keep quiet and keep these places secret.

      Delete
  28. What a beautiful setting this is. It makes me wish to wander through the fields, opening and closing the gates and taking in the famous countryside. The old church is a treasure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was last Saturday H. We had set off to get some food shopping and decided to take a detour and picnic on the way. The shopping experience became much less of a trial.

      Delete
  29. Oh this takes me back to my visit in the Cotswolds 16 years ago when we stayed on a farm just outside Burford!
    The stone work of the houses and Church is beautiful, they built to last in those days, something I appreciate. I love the english countryside! I can never see enough of it - thank you Rosemary!
    On our way to France in June, we are having 9 days in Ireland and then down to London for a brief stay before catching the Eurostar to Paris. 2009 was our last visit and St Pauls was under repairs, so it's #1 on our list this time!
    I always love reading your well researched posts and knowing the history.
    Enjoy your weekend and thank you for visiting me this warm sunny Saturday morning (your Friday evening)!
    Shane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if you are visiting north and south Ireland - both are lovely. If you get the chance to see the Giant's Causeway do go.
      I am off to Paris in June too, it is where my son and his family live.

      Delete
    2. We are visiting the south Rosemary - I googled Giant's Causeway - it looks amazing.
      My daughter and her family live in Burgundy! We will have a couple of days in Paris on our way through to spend time with them.

      Delete
    3. Sounds as if you will have a memorable trip Shane, the cherry on the cake being with the family in Burgundy.

      Delete
  30. You are lucky to leave in a such beautiful place !
    Have a nice week end , hope sunny !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Massimo - I am so pleased that you enjoyed seeing the Duntisbournes.

      Delete
  31. What a lovely post! I just spent a week in the Cotswolds for the Cheltenham festival and we admired the wonderful cottages, churches and dry stone walls. Your images are beautiful! I must go and explore this place, it is not far from us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you backed some winners - if you do want to visit the Duntisbournes then it is best to set off from Daglingworth, and work your way round all four finishing up at Duntisbourne Abbots. It has a lovely church overlooking a village green, but has a special gate leading up the church path called a coffin gate. You can see it here if you are interested.
      http://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/quiz-answer.html

      Delete
  32. Stunning...just stunning...
    Love,
    Titti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Titti - you are so kind, thank you♡

      Delete
  33. Hello Rosemary
    I loved reading about and seeing your images of The Duntisbournes and I am so tempted to return. It looks like Spring has arrived for you. It has been a long time since I visited the Cotswolds. My artist friend and I went one time for a week to paint. Stow in the Wold, Upper Slaughter and Lower Sloughter come to mind. I shall never forget the scenery and the warmth of the cotswold stone and some of the great people we met. While there I first heard of the Spice Girls and everywhere we went we heard "Tell me what you want, what you really really want"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Helen - I am pleased that this post has conjured up some happy memories for you. You are right Spring has arrived although I would say not completely. It is lovely to know that you enjoyed your time in the Cotswolds, please do come back again.

      Delete
  34. Absolutely amazing and as for the entrance and exit gates, wow! I've never ever seen anything like that before either. The basket of Snowdrops is just gorgeous. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The baskets of snowdrops were a lovely touch - each windowsill had one sitting on it.

      Delete
  35. This place is one of my favorites. The rustic simplicity and the modest-looking gift of the time in that countryside is simply beautiful and soothing though I was frightened by the entrance and exit made of a pair of scissors. The roof over the gate (#9) looks charming but the roof looks heavy for the gate.

    Yoko

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Yoko - fear not the scissor gates are not sharp, just rather a novel opening and closing device. I agree that the roof over the gate does look rather top heavy, but as you mention it is part of its charm, and it leads the eye down the grassy path towards the church.

      Delete
  36. I appreciate this is an "old" post, but I would like to thank you for it, and to ask a question, if I may. First, to thank you for the photos of the Dun, because I was not sure if historically it was more of a river than a brook - but these photos clearly show its bed 'built' to accommodate something more like a brook. That said, the question: do you happen to know if there was a time, even in more ancient history, when the Dun flowed more like a river?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sorry as I really do not know the answer to your question - it would be necessary to go back through old historical archives in order to find the answer. However, my own thoughts are that it was a proper river back in antiquity, and most likely navigable.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for taking the time to reply! I will continue to try to research this question (realising there is a Dunt/Dun connection was one little victory in that direction). With thanks and best wishes - and P.S. what a glorious landscape to live near.

      Delete
    3. If I ever come across any further information then I will endeavour to let you know - we have now lived here for 20 years but still appreciate the beauty of the landscape surrounding us - thank you.

      Delete
    4. Dear Rosemary, I have answered your kind comment on my blog, and am sharing the information I discovered since last posting here, as I wrote I would.
      If the Dun/t may be considered the same as the Daglingworth Brook (it appeared to me to be so, on google maps), then it may have flowed quite differently in the past. I found a book called "Water and Roman Urbanisms" by Adam Rogers, which describes how the watercourse of the brook had been filled in or drained to support buildings in Roman times.
      If this topic continues to pique your interest, may I ask whether locals as yourself consider the brook to be the same as the Dun?
      Sending best wishes.
      P.S. re. the langscape again, it is beautiful to know that such idyllic scenes continue to exist, and that they are being appreciated daily!

      Delete
    5. It is definitely the same stream that runs from Daglingworth. The Romans were very big in the area - just a few miles further on is Cirencester, Roman town, Corinium. There are remains of Roman villas, mosaics, an amphitheatre, roman road, and in fact I live on what was once a Roman Camp with views across to Wales.

      Delete
    6. Thank you, Rosemary. I really look forward to exploring your blog in more detail once time allows.

      Delete
    7. I shall look forward to your visit.

      Delete

❖PLEASE NOTE❖ Comments made by those who hide their identity will be deleted

“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh