As my travels took me homeward once more I have been embracing my love of old buildings and glorious English countryside, which even in the miserable weather is amongst the most uplifting in all the world in my humble opinion.
We’ve visited the beautiful Chatsworth house and gardens, Buxton which is a delightful old Spa town with much grand work that has preserved the magnificent old buildings. Some of our adventures also took us into churches which are quite mind blowing when you are looking at the grave of a Knight from 1403. I mean 1403. The town of Bakewell where said Knight lies came into existence around 949 AD. Whaaat! It’s just amazing to think the others who walked this land and how different all our lives have been.
However, all the above is leading us into another conversation about churches and in turn community that came up during my travels. My Auntie noted that the local church in Yarpole, Leominster had started a cafe within it. As it happens this cafe is entirely volunteer run, which I’m sure is challenging to maintain, but delivers good monies back into the local community and has also been noted as bringing the local community together. My mum and I disagree on the principle of having Cafes in churches as I’m sure many do. The Church was historically a central part to community and as times have changed attendance has dropped; this challenges both the concept of community and puts some outstanding, historical buildings at risk, alongside the drop in religious following.
We are not in the age of the hard sell and preaching is unlikely to gain any support for the Church in this day and age. If instead Churches were to open their doors to their community by creating an enticing, friendly cafe that is open to all, where people simply feel welcomed, heard and accepted you could create a warm community feeling; the side benefit would be that we could preserve these amazing buildings. For the benefit of the Church itself, whilst they may not directly turn people to the religion itself, it would certainly warm more people toward the concept of community that a church and its congregation as focal point can offer. Food for thought, for someone. Historically (I include my childhood as history this isn’t quite ancient history), you rarely get a better cup of tea and cake than you could find at the local bake sale of a church, so worth crossing the threshold and giving it a go in my view.
Of foodie note during these travels is of course the Original Bakewell Pudding shop in Bakewell, which sadly I can no longer partake of due to the dairy intolerance. Nonetheless, pie shaped gifts were purchased and I can assure you these are the real deal and delicious served alone or with a gluttonous topping of custard, cream and ice cream. Oh if only…. Right now I’m in The Devonshire Arms in Baslow, which was taken over about 12 months ago, sells a good selection of G&T’s and a good hearty selection of foods including a wide range of Dairy and Gluten free options, stated clearly on the menu thereby preventing me feeling like an awkward cretin asking for an entire menu breakdown! That said i also had a reminder that it’s worth checking what alterations are made to make the dish Dairy or Gluten free as it can be somewhat disappointing. For anyone visiting Chatsworth (unless like me you can’t have diary) the Coach House Cafe does the most amazing cakes. Notably a reet good Viccy Spudge (translated as ‘ a very tasty Victoria Sponge’, which is a vanilla sponge cake with jam and cream in the middle. Sometimes real cream, sometimes buttercream – either way always delicious. Unlike this bracketed explanation which is far longer than the point I’m making about how delicious the cake is). Beyond the cake they also offer a good old cuppa rosy lea (a lovely cup of tea) which is surely a must for anyone visiting such an exemplary English country house.
Contained in picture of the day is an array of images from our adventures in Bakewell. More to follow of the visual delights of Chatsworth in my next post.