Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Shall We Walk A Little Farther?....

....a little farther along our mile of English road, that is. We'd got as far as the old school, I believe, scarcely 100 yards from our starting point!

We've come now to the village green, or rather what's left of it;  it's been whittled away over the centuries till now it's only a few paces across. It was probably never particularly extensive as the meadows which lie a short distance away down beside the river have always served for grazing animals, playing cricket and other purposes usually carried out on the green. The cottages above were actually built on part of the green.

Opposite the cottages stands one of the village's four pubs, The Green Man. It once served as a coaching inn and there are outbuildings behind the pub and the neighbouring house which tell of its former use. The building probably dates back to at least the sixteenth century when a pub called the Three Tuns is recorded as having been on this spot. Pub names have changed throughout the centuries.

Just east of The Green Man stands another pub The Red Lion, which has also been known as The Axe And Saw at times during its history. This was the pub I first frequented, somewhat before my eighteenth birthday, but with the blessing of the landlord of the pub, the village policeman and the local vicar!

The vicar at that time was a man who regularly hung his cassock up behind the pub door "to keep an eye on the rest of his flock". As he often pointed out "Jesus turned water into wine, not the other way about!". He allowed the young people of the village to play croquet on the vicarage lawn, mend our boat in his garage and take a short cut through his garden whenever we wanted. The pub landlord had tragically lost a son who was about my age, which was probably why he liked our company. On one occasion, so the story goes, someone barged into the pub, interrupting the landlord's conversation and demanding to know where the toilet was without any 'please or thankyou'. The landlord pointed out the direction, "It says 'Gentlemen' on the door, sir," he added, "but don't let that deter you!" As for the policeman, he played rock'n'roll piano on a Friday night and as he observed "It's easy for me to keep an eye on you lads when you're in the pub!"

It was even more convenient for him that the Police House was directly opposite the pub. Although there is still a policeman living in the house he's no longer the 'village bobby', if you need the police now you have to phone the main police station and they send out someone in a car, eventually.

Next to The Green Man is a large thatched house known as Byron's Lodge. The poet Byron did have some connection with the village and was supposed to have swum in nearby Byron's Pool, but no one seems to be too sure about his links to this house. 

And next to that is The White Cottage, a picturesque building with a fine show of roses in the front garden during the summer months. E N Willmer, in his book "Old Grantchester", published 35 years ago, tells us that the house has been occupied down the years by a butcher, a scrap-metal dealer, a Nobel Laureate, a professor of music (Sir William Sterndale Bennett, no less)and an authority on the preservation of African big game.

Well, we've still got a fair way to go.

Take care.


  1. Your remembrance of teen "transgressions' speaks volumes about life in a close-knit, caring community. Pity efficiency has taken some of it away. I believe it's what my generation is now most actively seeking. I would expect that the mere passage of a man of Lord Byron's stature through the village would have the local Chamber of Commerce claiming his undying devotion to the place. From such profits are made. Jim

  2. This is such a fascinating tour, John. You still live in the same village where you grew up! That seems to be rather uncommon these days in the USA.

    Keep the tour going, John. I will be on a trip for ten days, but I plan to come back and read all about it when I return.

  3. Thank you, John for sharing your walks with us... I always enjoy the stroll...

  4. Jim: The village seems strangely unaware of the Byron association apart from a couple of place-names. Being so near to the city of Cambridge and its university we do get a lot of famous people passing through.
    Jack: No, I've moved away - all of nine miles away - but my mother still lives there so I retain a close link.
    Madge: Nice to have you along on the stroll!


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