Wednesday, 28 September 2016

All alone in a dark wood


Here is where I went yesterday. Alfred's Tower on the edge of the Stourhead estate. 196 feet high, built from 1.2 million bricks in 1772 (I think) to commemorate a battle between King Alfred the Great and the marauding Danes on this spot, sometime in the Dark Ages. Alfred won.

There is a scar in the brickwork on the left-hand side from when an American plane flew into it one foggy night around 1942. The tower survived but sadly the crew did not.

Stourhead House itself was built for the Hoare family, who were - and still are - bankers, in the 18th century. Their reputation has now surpassed Cootes for longevity and exclusivity. Some of my clients have Hoare accounts. I wish I could say, "My mother was a Hoare!"

I used to know these woods intimately, but now I find they have grown out of all recognition. I could not find my preferred entrance into them, and toward the end of my walk I actually got lost and had to tramp through brambles to find the path back. If it were not for the fact that I knew I should being going uphill, it would have taken me until dusk to find the tower again, by which time it would have been as invisible as it was to that WW2 flying crew.

It is strange to be suddenly thrown back into childhood by a brief moment of panic, alone in a dense wood. You talk to yourself in the same way that you would advise a child too, using logic to dispel fear.

I didn't find any edible mushrooms, but this is the beginning of Autumn.

14 comments:

  1. Over here, over paid, and tit over arse!

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  2. Tom, I am glad that you did find a way out of the forest and were able to tell the story. Did you have to be mindful of which side of the trees had moss growing and natural compasses like that? I know I would have freaked out a bit as the sunshine began to fade.

    (I did see some of the Aleppo documentary this morning during an interview of the two people who made the film. Powerful and very hard to watch.)

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    1. I've never found the moss growth accurate enough! It is worth watching all of it, it doesn't get any worse and they spare us the really grisly stuff.

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  3. Been there, done that but didn't find a body. Woof, Woof!

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  4. Don't go picking toadstools in the semi-dark down there.

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    1. That's better than eating them in the semi dark, Weave.

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  5. The was forests absorb sound
    Thats what i find creepy

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    1. I've never been to the Was Forests, and I don't think I want to. Too creepy.

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  6. How fun! It has an air of being haunted.

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    1. It's probably haunted by all those slain Danes and Britons!

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  7. My stepfather Paul often said, 'My father was a bishop and my mother was a Hoare' both of which were true.

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