Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Keep Your Mind Open

Brian and I had one last fling this week before settling down to some serious work on our new book. We knew that there was so much more to discover around Lewtrenchard Manor that we decided one more overnight stay was COMPLETELY justified. It was work! Honest! It had nothing to do with the fantastic food and wonderful ambiance of the place. And - we weren’t disappointed – not about any of it; but I MEAN about things we discovered. 

We stayed in a room we hadn’t stayed in before. I was casually poking around, opening cupboards and drawers (as one does), when I came across this strange stain in a small drawer in an antique dressing table. It’s a silhouette of a little pixie man wearing a hat. He has feelers and just the beginnings of wings! You never know what you’ll find when you open a drawer in a strange room - not that I advocate doing this! I will tell you where it is though, just in case you ever decide to stay there. It’s in the Prince Rupert room. 

We really hadn’t explored the grounds around the house fully (and still haven’t) but this time we decided to take the pathway that leads up behind Lewtrenchard church. The woodland and “lost” garden around it, are in the process of being restored at the moment, and interesting things are coming to light. As we walked along, we could see an absolutely huge beech tree standing guard next to a strange stone structure to the side of the path. The tree is either in the process of being felled or being saved -we really couldn’t tell which; but either way, big branches had been lopped off and the dead middle of the tree had been exposed. It’s always sad to see a tree in this state but the wonderful thing was this - in the middle of the hollow within the tree, someone had placed a carved wooden heart. You can’t tell from this photo, but it is high (maybe head height), and about 18 inches across, and wedged into the center as if it is the heart of the tree. It’s not new. At least a few seasons have passed since it was placed there I would think. It seemed to us that someone has given this ancient tree a heart to help the spirit of the tree itself. Who ever did it - we love it. It seems such a beautiful statement. 

The tree is sentinel for the stone structure (or what it surrounds), and that is a holy well - as stated in the church information. Although holy wells have more often than not been taken by the church and turned into saint’s wells, the origin of them is far, far older. Sacred wells have been used and revered by people for millennia. This structure was definitely strange at first look. We thought it was a ruined fireplace but the opening in the front was an opening into the well itself. Climbing to the top of the structure, we could see that the circular stonework was indeed a well. Neither of us had seen one quite like this before and seeing it and its guardian tree together was very moving. 

So - you never know what you’ll find on a walk or in a drawer. Keep your eyes open and your mind open too and see where it takes you.