Tuesday, 15 October 2013


An eccentric vicar


The former vicarage in the hamlet of Morwenstow at Cornwall’s northernmost tip, sports five chimneys which depict a variety of church towers in miniature.   The man responsible for this curiosity was the eccentric Robert Stephen Hawker who was vicar there for 40 years from 1834 to 1875.   Four of the chimneys are copies of the various church towers with which he had been associated, whilst the odd one out is a copy of Hawker’s mother’s tomb.

Hawker, who wrote the Cornish Anthem, The Song of Western Men, re-created the pagan harvest festival as a Christian festival.   He also recovered over 40 bodies of drowned sailors from various wrecks on the nearby coast and gave them Christian burials in his churchyard.





Morwenstow vicarage






Catholic convert


Sir Thomas Tresham was a notable 16th century Roman Catholic convert  who owned a variety of properties in Northamptonshire.    Tresham became obsessed with his beliefs, for which he was imprisoned, and he constructed two curious allegoric buildings.

The Triangular Lodge was erected in the grounds of Rushton Hall near Kettering in 1593.   This folly has : 

Just 3 sides, each one 33ft 3ins long,

3 floors, each with 3 triangular windows in each wall,

3 triangular gables to each side with 3 pinnacles above,

3 x 3 gargoyles,

Latin inscriptions in double 3 couplets, each line with 33 letters.

This extraordinary building depicting the Trinity is now in the care of English Heritage.



Rushton Hall


Lyvedon New Bield was to have been built as a garden house in the grounds of Lyvedon Bield near Oundle in 1595.   The building was designed in the shape of a Greek cross and the exterior incorporates friezes inscribed with religious quotations and signs of the passion.   Sir Thomas Tresham died before the building was completed and the shell is now in the care of the National Trust.

 Lyvedon New Bield

Round houses


Five curious circular houses can be seen in the tranquil village of Veryan in Cornwall.   These delightful 19th century ‘round houses’ are each topped with a conical thatched roof and a cross.    They were built in the early 19th century for £50 each and their shape stems from ancient traditions that the devil likes to enter a house by the north wall and to hide in corners non of which exist in round houses.


Similar houses are to be seen at Aston-0n-Clun in Shropshire.



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