The scene at the back of the house in Horsley is delightfully rural: the cows come up to the low fence at the back and cheerfully munch at any vegetation they can reach. We decided to go for a walk and see yet more cows, at Minchinhampton common. The land is in the care of the lately very controversial National Trust, but this is the background:
Land remained in the ownership of the Lord of the Manor, but some local people were given the right to use the poorer areas which became known as ‘common land’.
Today, these ‘rights of common’ at Minchinhampton and Rodborough include the grazing of animals known as ‘herbage’ and taking dead or brash wood, gorse or furze called ‘estovers’. The people who are able to exercise these rights are known as ‘commoners’ because they own property within the historic Manor.
There are wonderful views over Stroud and Severn Vale, and another local attraction is the Winstone’s ice cream factory with shop, where we indulged in a honey and ginger ice cream. Delicious.
Another interesting place is Rodborough Fort, a folly built in 1764, and remains in private ownership. It now belongs to Dale Vince, a green energy industrialist and who runs a vegan football team, the Forest Green Rovers.
We came through the hamlet of Watledge, whose claim to fame is that W H Davies, the poet, died there.
The poem is well known to all school children of a certain era, we had to learn it by heart, what an old-fashioned concept. But it is worth looking up if you don’t recognise it: it could be the anthem for lockdown I feel, where we did have much more time to “stand and stare.”
Driving home one could scarcely imagine that people remain frightened of going anywhere. The traffic was pretty heavy with the usual jams on the motorways. The cat was pleased to see us home.