There are many things that I pass by almost every day without giving them a second glance. What started me thinking was that Granny Sue asked me in a comment what "the stocks", which I mentioned last week, might be. So on a rather dull day I walked around and took some photos of what are familiar sights to me, though not to most others.
Here they are: the stocks and whipping post, beneath the magnificent chestnut tree, on a small triangle of grass known as Marvell's Green. Like most of what's in this post (and most of what I know about the village) I'm indebted to the website of the local history group. I'll put a link at the end. Just to tempt you to learn more, the stocks were last used in 1860 to punish those brawling in church. The legislation relating to the use of stocks as a punishment for "unruly artisans" has never been abolished, so theoretically I might get put in them if I become too unruly!
Near to the stocks is what is probably the base of an old preaching cross. It was unearthed in someone's garden and put here in the late nineteenth century.
Just across the road is an old-style wooden fingerpost. I remember watching a sign-writer re-paint one of these when I was a child. I must have been very impressed by his efforts as for a few years after that I wanted to be a sign-writer. I keep meaning to look closely and see if this one is still hand-painted or if technology has moved on. Most road signs elsewhere are now metal or plastic.
This is our village shop and post office which is part of the OneStop chain which is owned by Tesco, though operates as a separate company. We're lucky to have it still as many have closed down in recent decades.
And there's a village pub, The British Queen, too. Again we thought it might close down a few years ago, but it was bought by a local man who set about transforming its fortunes. It still serves an excellent pint and you can get a very nice meal too (in normal times*). I hope that the shop and the pub are able to survive the current Covid-19 crisis.
* and indeed now as I'm reminded they're offering a take-away service.
Just down the road is the village's primary school for children up to the age of 11. My little friend who lives next-door to me tells me it's a very good school and you learn all about "dinosaurs and aquatic beasts" there. I hope they'll soon be back in operation too.
The school has a very nice sign imploring drivers to slow down.
We're also lucky to have our own mainline station with trains to London in one direction and Cambridge in the other. The first trains stopped here in 1851 and there are now trains every half-hour during the week and every hour at weekends. The station is still manned during the busy morning period.
Just on the opposite side of the road to the station are these Nissen huts, occupied by car repairers and other small businesses. The history of these workaday premises is rather unexpected. I was thinking of asking for guesses as to its former use, but of course someone would find the answer on the History Group's website. They were constructed in 1944 to serve as reception centres for wounded soldiers brought by ambulance trains from the D-Day landings. Soldiers were then sent on to other hospital facilities in the area.
Nearby stands the village war memorial commemorating the dead of both world wars. Almost every village you go to has some sort of memorial and remarkably there was never any centrally organised movement to construct and pay for these; each village collected money independently to pay for their own memorial. So nobody really knows how many there are, though there are around 16,000 villages in England. There are just 53 communities which suffered no losses in WWI and are known as "Thankful Villages". 16 of these also saw no losses in WWII. Most are very small farming settlements.
And this is something I don't see every day: a thatcher at work, renewing some of the roofing on one the nineteen thatched cottages in the village. He seemed pleased that someone had stopped to admire his work and take a photo. I wrote a bit about thatch and thatching here:
Meldreth Local History Group website: http://www.meldrethhistory.org.uk/index.aspx