My journal and my life

Posts tagged ‘History’

Post #33 Local Panorama

One of my favourite walks close to home is on a former colliery site, now a country park & one of many in the area.  These sites are great for dog walkers & cyclists, but their existence means the mines, industry & employment has gone, which is sad.

These parks have great views as you’re actually walking on the pit tip, the slag heap of waste left behind when the mines were dug out.  There’s little nutrient in the great mounds of grey shale, so only hardy grass & scrubby bushes can survive.  It’s not at all suitable for crops, but sheep often graze & there were some woolly brown ones enjoying the sunshine today.  It was a parky morning, clear & bright but icy cold, frosty underfoot so not too muddy.

Brown Woolly Sheep

I love the evidence of history that can be viewed, a full 360 degree panorama from the top of the hill.  Looking east over the top of my house, there’s at least two coal fired power stations on the horizon – the steam from the cooling towers indicating the direction of the wind.  Moving southwards & focusing a little closer, there’s a small valley with the towers of a former textile mill peeping above the trees.  The cotton mills were initially powered by the river Meden which had cut through the limestone & created the vale.  Later they were steam powered, fueled by coal from the mine, delivered by rail & it’s still possible to walk part of the route.  The old mills have been featured on the Most Haunted programme.

Notts Derbys Border

Moving on, just below the horizon & again higher than the trees of Sherwood Forest, the pair of headstocks from the former Clipstone Colliery can be seen.  The workshops were demolished when the pit closed, but the headstocks left intact as a historical monument, although a local MP now wants the land redeveloped.

Pleasley & Hardwick

Continuing south west & the five modern wind turbines featured in my post #5 can be seen on the horizon – no steam from these clean machines!  Further westwards & Hardwick New Hall nestles above the trees.  A grand Elizabethan house built by Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury – Bess of Hardwick, a magnificent woman who outlived four husbands & amassed their wealth.

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Post #32 Downton Abbey

I love period dramas & fondly remember Upstairs Downstairs (the original), but more recently I’ve been avidly watching the award winning Downton Abbey.  There’s lots of programmes & series made for UK terrestrial TV, but rarely is there something of pure quality.

Downton Abbey DVD

The storyline is similar to Upstairs Downstairs, following an upper-class family & their servants.  Both groups have their life problems & family disputes which draw in the viewer, but there’s also the interaction between the classes.  Living so closely together, especially as the servants tended to stay in post for years, they would have been involved in each others’ lives.  The loyal servants would have been privy to sensitive information or witness to scandalous events. However, I’m sure the servants’ lives would have been much harder than that portrayed in Downton Abbey, as they do seem to have a fair amount of spare time.

I love the ladies’ fashions of course & the gradual changes from the structured corseted outfits of the Edwardian era, to the softer flapper dresses after the first world war. The change in attitudes is also featured – the beginning of the end of the upstairs downstairs lifestyle.

Although Downton Abbey is set in Yorkshire, it’s filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. It’s fascinating to watch behind the scenes documentary, to learn of the fine attention to historical detail & see interviews of the cast & their stories of filming in such a grand location.  The present Countess of Carnarvon has also written a book about Lady Almina, the 5th Countess who lived at Highclere at the same time Downton Abbey is set.

Highclere Castle

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