Before the snow came and marooned us in our cottage we had been out into Worcestershire, catching up on National Trust properties which are too small to spend much time at individually.
First port of call was the 16th century half timbered dovecote at Hawford. Originally part of a wealthy monastic grange, the dovecote now stands alone, neatly tucked away between handsome detached houses in this peaceful hamlet off the A449.
We walked around the place twice before I discovered the double doors were open and disappeared from OH's view!
Inside was actually cosy, with brick floor and half timbered walls standing on a small sandstone wall. Despite an opening for a ladder, there was not one there up to the other levels, and with floorboards missing it would be dangerous for visitors.
I love these mini buildings, and can imagine them with an inglenook fireplace to one wall and woodburner at full pelt, warming the whole place through. Although they would never have been heated, it makes a nice thought!
As I can't find out much about Hawford monastic grange, I can only imagine it is no longer around because of Henry VIII's dissolution of the monastries.
There is no parking at Hawford, and the dovecote is a short way up a private road, which you can walk up but not drive. Vehicles are tolerated on the grass verges in the nearby lane.
Our next building was across the river Severn, and a hundred years into the future, the 17th century Wichenford dovecote.
Another half timbered cute property, this time with a picturesque brookside setting, and again just off a private access road.
We will have to revisit in Summer, this is just too pretty!
Here, the doorway made me feel gigantic, poor OH had to squeeze himself in. The floor was raised too so it was quite a step up.
(had to throw these boots when I wore them in snow the other day as the sole had split, I'd worn them so often, ah well, several years and £20 so not too bad) Spot the £1.95 Kipling bag!
That's quite a step (OH in his Merrell trainers which were too ugly until he tried them on, £8 CS find and comfy as walking on air!)
Inside, all of the 560 little nesting areas were still present, and someone at the National Trust has spent ages making paper doves to fill the spaces
As there was an impressive cupola on top for the birds to enter, this dovecote had more light inside, despite the tiny door.
One last view of the gorgeous half timbered exterior and we were off
We had lunch outside the parish church and drove towards our next property, the largest and possibly oldest tithe barn in England, 14th century Leigh Court Barn, managed by English Heritage.
Leigh Court Barn is huge, a whopping 140 feet long, 33 feet high and 34 feet wide. It was built around 1325 (dated by style of carpentry and radiocarbon dating). There are two pairs of huge doors on both sides of the building
Here, you can just see the walls bowing, the foundations are inadequate to support the building and it has now been underpinned to prevent collapse, although the brick infill would originally have been more lightweight wattle and daub.
Apologies for the blurry shot, my phone is not good at low light photography, however, it makes the woven panels easy to see. The above doors would be opened on both sides when grain was laid out, and the wind would help sort the wheat from the chaff.
These huge cathedral like arches of oak are stunning. There are nine pairs of solid oak cruck timbers, in effect the ribs of the building, holding it all together.
As you enter the building, to the right is an area for cider making, and judging by the size of the equipment, they made a lot here.
The barn was originally part of the Leigh Court grange, or monastic farm, belonging to the monks of Pershore in Worcestershire, and here they stored grain grown on their land.
The steep sided roof is originally thought to have been thatched
The view from the other end of the barn is just as spectacular, and it was a sunny day with the low winter sun helping to create a warm glow through the barn.
These wooden pegs have been in place for 800 years, holding everything together
(Oops! Seems my maths is out on this post and Leigh Court Barn is in fact only coming up to 700 years old Back to school for me!)
Despite being in the care of the National Trust and English Heritage, all of the above properties are free to enter usually during hours of daylight, but as they are not manned there are no facilities at any of them.
I'm quite pleased with the photos as my camera of choice is my new toy, a smart phone, and a cheap one at that. I decided to bite the bullet when I ended up spending my £10 per six month pay as you go top up in one afternoon trying to sort out a problem with the rental. I realised the phone could be offset against my business, and it has been worth it so far, despite the frustrations of initially getting used to it, saves me lugging my camera around and I always have it on me.
Just one pennypinching purchase to share this time, and it is this pretty bracelet in shades of grey, just 50p and from Denmark. The company is called Pilgrim (kind of fits with the monastic theme to this post!).
Of course it goes without saying that my Christmas shopping is all done, and at minimal cost but with maximum thought.
When I discover a quick way to get photos from my phone to my blog I will be back on a regular basis.