On Tuesday evening we went for a short drive, with the intention of taking a walk in a nature area we’d visited earlier this year. When we got there however, we found it to be VERY muddy, so we decided to try somewhere else instead. We ended up in the village of Northiam (which we’ve only ever passed through before, never stopped in), and I’m so glad we did, as it turned out to be a perfect place for exploring on a late afternoon in November!
It was only a short walk, starting off by the village green, up a slight hill to where the church is, a couple of laps around the graveyard, and then back down to the village green again. We arrived as the sun was setting and left before it got properly dark. Short but sweet, and it gave us the ‘getting out fix’ we needed.
The first thing that caught our eye, at the start of our walk, was the old village pump seen below.
The pump didn’t seem to be still in working order, but is a lovely feature nonetheless.
Details of the pump, with a plaque that reads:
AS A GRATEFUL THANK OFFERING
THIS WELL IS PRESENTED
VILLAGERS OF NORTHIAM
“LET HIM THAT IS ATHIRST COME,
AND WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM
TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY.
REV XXII 17
On our approach to the church, it was lovely to see that a lot of flowers, such as Cosmos and Mexican fleabane, were still in bloom, despite it being November.
The church is called St Mary’s Church, and its oldest parts (the lower part of the tower and part of the nave by the base of it) are from Norman times (c.12th Century). The rather unusual stone spire was added around 1500, and other parts have later been added, extended and renovated over the centuries.
As the church is currently closed due to covid restrictions, we could only admire it from the outside, but Penguin was happy to mull around in the graveyard, and sit down on a bench for a while to take it in.
On our second lap around the church, we spotted bats darting around above our heads! We watched them for a while at the back of the church, and then as we made our way towards the front again we realised that they were flying in and out of the belfry. All the pictures we managed to get are quite blurry, but I think you can still make out the distinct shape of these fascinating creatures.
To see a short film clip of the bats, swipe through to the end of this instagram post:
After having read up more about bats in Sussex, I think it’s likely that these are Serotine bats. They often fly early in the evening, at around the height of the tree-tops, and they like to use old buildings such as belfries to live in. They are a little bigger than the Pipistrelles which is the most commonly seen type of bat here.
There was a hazy blue over the hills around the village as we made our way back down to the village green. In the photo below, there’s something looking like a large bush to the left in the picture. Since we visited Northiam on Tuesday, I’ve learnt that it’s actually the ivy-covered trunk of a very old oak tree, and not any old oak tree either, but ‘Queen Elizabeth’s oak’. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth I stopped briefly in Northiam on 11 August 1573 (while on a journey to Rye), and sat under this oak tree eating a meal! Before she left, she changed her footwear, and left he green silk shoes she’d been wearing as a thank you gift to the her hosts in the village. The shoes still exist and are in the ownership of the locally influential Ferwen family.
Also by the village green, is the war memorial. As this was just after Remembrance Sunday, there were freshly laid poppy wreaths at the base on the memorial monument. The fading light and the signs of autumn, with the ground covered in fallen leaves, added to the atmosphere of remembering those fallen in wars. As did the bench of course, with its motif of soldier silhouettes. “We will remember them…”
The following day was Remembrance Day, so seeing the memorial in Northiam was very timely, and something Penguin and I could look back on as we shared a moment of remembrance together.
We’ve also learnt more about bats this week, and incorporated some basic literacy learning into that theme as well. I love it when we can base our home learning around things we’ve recently experienced in real life.
And all this from an afternoon walk that almost didn’t happen!
Linking up with: