Returning

My uncle’s funeral afforded me an opportunity to go back and revisit the village where he and his brothers were born and brought up. My grandparents both died there and were buried in the church at Rode, St Lawrence’s. As my dad pointed out in his eulogy, John was coming home, his life had turned full circle. The church was also where his wife Judy, who died so tragically young, was buried. So the village is redolent with family history on my dad’s side. The Cross Keys Inn in the centre of the village was the inn where my grandfather was brought up and told me how he remembered when he was six serving the drovers who were driving cattle and sheep through the village to market, with their breakfast. This would have been around 1896. The Cross Keys had become the centre of the family business, beer and bread, and the Fussell’s brewery was for many years the major employer in the village. It was with some trepidation though that, after the service and wake, I headed off in the direction of Crooked lane in search of” Ten Acres” which was the house that my grandfather built just before the start of the Second World War and the house where he lived and died. Would I remembered it? It had been some way out of the village in open farming country so given the drive to build and provide homes for commuters there was a real chance that it would be surrounded by houses. After all I had not been back in over thirty years and so much can change in three decades. Would this be a Lower Binfied moment or a John Major “it’s there, it’s still there” experience. Driving through the centre of the village, I was tempted to stop and photograph the street. It was such a rich tapestry and jumble of old and even older buildings, though with some modern additions I noticed. The red brick of one of the old brewery buildings sported a tinted glass addition to give it that contemporary feel and look. I didn’t stop and driving on a few metres almost instantly knew where I was. Without looking for the sign I turned up Crooked Lane. Almost nothing had changed or so it seemed. Ten Acres was there some two hundred yards on the left, surrounded by trees, a square box of a building, in the beautiful Bath stone, but a building that had been shorn of ambition by the onset of the Second World War, and so had been a much more modest project. Nevertheless it sits in the landscape belonging, as if it has been there for centuries. I drove past the entrance, wondering briefly if I should cheekily drive up and introduce myself. But deciding against it I parked a few the car in the entrance to the farmers field and took a photograph. It was the best that I could do.

2015-03-30 15.55.23

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