"Everyone knows the more you wear pearls, little by little they become real....And isn't it the same with memories?" - The Madwoman of Chaillot

Friday, September 30, 2011

Atherstone - the town time forgot

We began our day in the breakfast room, a room where a luncheon was held in 1985 for Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

A half of a full English breakfast.

Forgot the picture from last night of Richard, our chef and one of the owners of this family hotel.

Our acquaintance from the night before, David, had mentioned to me that Atherstone is more like the England of the 1960's and has not made many of the changes found in other towns and cities. In some ways, you could argue that it is not all that different than a much earlier time. Yes, there are items available that were not possible a hundred or two hundred years ago, but there actually were few modern items, in the main older part of town at least. Did not see one electronics store or one cell phone store...

I went out for a walk after Bill left for 3M and ended up walking about 3 hours in town and along the canal. I was tempted to take pictures of every uniquely picturesque building but felt a little bit conspicuous, as the only one in town who appeared to be a tourist...in fact when I took one of my first pictures, a man who happened to be in the picture stopped to say (I think kiddingly), "you aren't a spy, are you?" he is the guy walking towards me below. So, you don't get 100's of pictures of old buildings, just a few.

Below, the man who asked me about being a spy.

Old Atherstone plaques showing historic places

So, our tour of Atherstone begins with the church next to our hotel, St Mary's Church.

The oldest part was originally built in 1155, and the present old part shown below was rebuilt on that first one in 1385. Under Henry VIII, monasteries were dissolved and this was used as a grammar school. In 1850, the new part was built and joined to the original nave in1884.

New area of the church

The old section

Long street, formerly Watling Road which began as an old Roman road

What could be cuter than an old fashioned candy store?

Household goods -

And old version of "True Value" or "Our Own Hardware"

The very old Red Lion Hotel

Sports bar - this town was once reputed to have more pubs for it's population than any in England

See anything strange about this place?

The picture up to the right of Sweeney's is Edward Scissorshands....

The old train station has been replaced by one automatic ticket machine so the building is now a veterinary clinic.

The theme here is that really every store in Atherstone was a normal store - used clothing, jewelry, household goods, clothing but not really high fashion, gift shop - no tourist shops... But all in buildings little changed from some time ago, in contrast to other places where many interiors are completely redone and modern.And it's not to say that there are no modern buildings, there are a significant number of post WWII houses further out from the old town, and some new facilities in town.

Library and Leisure Complex

An Aldi food store

Now, walking towards the canal, I couldn't resist this one - pertly for the reindeer and partly for the sign - although in fairness I have to say this is not uncommon - people come to the pub for a pint, and there is a place for kids to play...

And i had to walk back to this sign because it just struck me as funny.

The canals were once very important to commerce and there were wharfs along them next to small factories. Atherstone was well known for producing felt hats and other industries including mining.

Now the canals appear to be mainly used for recreation - on special canal boats. I talked to one woman who was getting their boat through the series of locks on the canals who told me that she and her husband were on a two week slow-moving vacation.

The locks - you maneuver the boat in while one person operates the locks.

Ok, two more pretty canal pictures and one of the old wall of Merevale Hall and the hall in the distance taken from a bit outside of town.

Old wall behind the horse

And will end here after my three hour walk - you got off easy, your tour was shorter. Next up is my lunch and afternoon at Chapel House, bottle of wine on the town square and dinner... Then goodbye to England.

Location:Atherstone, England

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