Sunday, 2 September 2018

Excuses To Visit The Chequers

The village of Eriswell would be a nice quiet, out-of-the-way place if it were not being sandwiched between RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath air bases and having a busy road running through it! But alongside that road stands a quaint little pub, The Chequers, which does very tasty food as my brother and I discovered a few months ago. Now what reason can we find to drive over there again....?


Well, we could go for a walk at the RSPB bird reserve at Lakenheath. It's probably the worst time of year for looking for birds - young all raised, birds hiding away while moulting, not many migrants passing through just yet - but there's plenty of walking to be done on this extensive reserve and it's a fine sunny morning.



We started off walking alongside the River Lark with its wide floodplains. A sign told us there was a bull grazing here, but as he had numerous 'wives' accompanying him he clearly had no energy to waste on us. He lifted his enormous head and watched us pass by.



This large site used to be owned by Bryant & May who used it to grow poplar trees which they planned to make into matches back in the days before cheap disposable cigarette lighters. There are still big plantations of the trees here and once-upon-a-time-a-long-time-ago the rare Golden Oriole used to nest here and I actually managed to spot one once. For a bird which is bright yellow they are infuriatingly difficult to spot.



Joist Fen has been turned into a huge reedbed which now hosts a different star species as Cranes now nest here, part of the very small number of these birds that have taken up residence in East Anglia. Bitterns nest here too and a few months ago we visited and had seven sightings of these elusive birds.



We also stopped off for a while at the Mere Hide where last time we'd seen Bearded Tits in flight and Hobbies catching dragonflies. Today though there wasn't a bird in sight here though we did see a Kingfisher not too far away.



The skies however were putting on quite a show as the clouds slowly built up during the morning.



Then it was time to withdraw to The Chequers for our lunch - tasty as ever.



Before returning home we wandered down to the village to see the church. Unfortunately the building was locked but we found something interesting in the churchyard. (Or rather my brother spotted it after I'd walked past it twice without noticing it!)




IN MEMORY OF
JAMES PAUL
A NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN
HE WAS BROUGHT TO GREAT BRITAIN
AND EDUCATED AT THE EXPENSE
OF THE NEW ENGLAND COMPANY
AND APPRENTICED TO
THOS. HOUGHTON
CARPENTER AND BUILDER
HE DIED NOV. 15. 1820
AGED 16 YEARS

THIS IS A REPLACEMENT HEADSTONE 1988


The New England Company was a charity set up by Oliver Cromwell's government to spread "the Gospel of Christ unto and amongst the heathen natives in or near New England and parts adjacent in America" and is in existence to this day. In 1649 it purchased the Manor of Eriswell and used the profits from the rents to pay for its missionary work. Many of the cottages in the village still bear the initials NEC.


Later the estate was bought for the Maharajah Duleep Singh, the deposed ruler of the Sikh empire. He came to Britain at the age of ten and was raised as an English country gentleman. He soon acquired the neighbouring Elveden estate too and at one time everyone in Eriswell, apart from the vicar and the publican, worked for the Maharajah.



Take care.



11 comments:

  1. How fascinating. You unearth some amazing stories. I've never heard of the New England Company before.

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  2. Nothing like a brisk walk to whip up the appetite John.. As long as Eriswell has The Chequers and at times the birds, it's worth a visit ✨

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  3. Great to know where you like to eat! And walk...

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  4. I'm sure there is more to the story about the Native American, carried off to England to serve an apprenticeship and "get religion", then dying at age 16. And how interesting, a maharajah in the English countryside! A day well-spent!

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  5. beautiful images. so very "English." Yes, I, too, am sure there is a very interesting story to the boy who was brought over. Here in the U.S., we forced indigenous children to go to schools away from their homes, to get 'religion' and 'education.' It was a horror for them and their families. A national shame.

    In any case, an interesting find in the church yard. And having a good lunch is the best excuse for going anywhere. Sometimes my husband and I take the ferry to San Francisco for lunch. That's a two hour trip each way! It makes for a lovely day.

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  6. The greens and blues in the first several photos are spectacular.

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  7. You do find such interesting bits to tell us about! I would have loved the "bird walk". And now I have to look up golden oriole.

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  8. A pretty landscape to stroll through. The Chequers looks like a nice place to have a bite to eat, it must be a popular place to stop in.

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  9. A wonderful scenery, John. Lovely skies too!

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  10. Hi John - it's a gorgeous area of England you live in; I'd love to see a Golden Oriole, a Bittern, a kingfisher even! Then the walk under those skies ... almost too good to be true - especially knowing there's a goodly pub for lunch.

    Fascinating history too - so interesting to read about the New England Company and the poor youngster brought over. I did enjoy seeing the maps of New England at that stage - in Wiki ... 1600s ... live and learn ... wonderful - thank you - Hilary

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  11. All sorts of interesting things in your post, John. Beautiful photos and aren't you lucky re the birds. I have to be content with English sparrows and ring necked pigeons at my birdfeeder, although some of my children who live in more rural areas tell me about kingfishers and swallows. We had an oriole who came back every year to occupy a swinging nest when we lived on the farm, - and of course nighthawks ...

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