Showing posts from July, 2022

Ossulstone (deceased)

The pecking order of what passed for local government in the olde days, was topped by the Counties or shires, followed by the Hundreds and, in the basement, parishes. There were some bespoke arrangements, the City of London being one. The pic above is of a Medieval 'Moot Court'.  If you read my last post, you will know that the City of London was girdled by the River and Middlesex, and that the latter was eventually subsumed by the Great Wen as it sprawled across the surrounding countryside. So what happened to the Middlesex Hundreds? Firstly, a bit more on Hundreds. No one seems very sure what they were originally based on. Possibly, it referred to a hundred Hides, a Hide being the area of land needed to support an ordinary family or, later, several of them. Alternatively it could have been related to an obligation to provide one hundred armed men when required. In the northern counties settled by the Danes, the equivalent of the Hundreds was ‘Wapentakes’ To me, this lends s

Middlesex : The Virtual County

  You know what a County is. Maybe. In fact there are three types, administrative counties,  ceremonial or geographic counties and also ‘pseudo’ counties which are little more than an optional embellishment of a postal address.  The first of these gets you a Council and a goody bag; things like bin collections or a parking permit. The second just does pomp & show. Berkshire is a good example. There is no Berkshire County Council, it was abolished in1998, leaving in its wake only a ‘Lieutenancy’, which is basically an opportunity for an old white man to dress up and pretend to be important. You can probably think of several more. Huntingdonshire, Westmoreland, Bedfordshire etc. Middlesex doesn’t fit the mould and has a severe, in fact total, existential crisis. It did exist, but it doesn’t now. It is the administrative equivalent of the Dead Parrot Sketch. Some places,  like Cornwall, Northumberland or Yorkshire, seem to demand allegiance. Not Middlesex.  N o one seems too bothere

The Lambourn Valley & The Wessex Downs

  Link to GPX File of the Route This ride takes you from Newbury into the green valley of the River Lambourn, a classic chalk stream, which starts near Lambourn village and joins the Kennet in Newbury. At Great Shefford it turns north and climbs towards the open, arable, upland of the North Wessex Downs. You then have a 7 mile roller coaster ride along the hilltops with great views, before returning downhill back to Newbury, passing through villages set in the more wooded terrain of the lower lower eastern slopes. This peaceful countryside has been settled for millennia and vestiges of the inhabitants and their farming, from the bronze age through medieval times to the Victorians, can still be found. It is all on roads which, outside of busy Newbury, are small and quiet. Highlights are: The watermills and (probably!) medieval water meadows of the Lambourn, a classic chalk country stream. Creating and maintaining these is more complicated than you might imagine.