As October is now fast approaching and September draws to a close the changing season is now very noticeable – the darker nights and cold mornings with bright sunshine and swirling mists. The leaves are just beginning to turn and fall – this is what I wrote for September in my Art Book ‘Celebrating the Year 2009’
“September is the month when the summer draws to a close. Those warm carefree days now fading away and we begin to cherish the sunny days we have left. I begin to search out my recipes for warming casseroles and Bean Stew flavoured with tomatoes. My dad always grew tomatoes and my mum would spend her time making Tomato Chutney and pickling onions when we had gone back to school. September is traditionally a month to preserve the fruits of our allotments and gardens and begin the baking once again. There is another kind of preservation that is important and that is our heritage and this is the month that you are able to take a peek at places which are of historical interest that are not normally open to the public.
This year we went to Stannington near Sheffield (where I lived when I was two) to see the little Unitarian Chapel which has beautiful and original stained glass windows.
We then went further afield to Hathersage in the Peak District to North Lees Hall, an Elizabethan Tower House (which is now rented as a Holiday let) and is thought to be the inspiration for Thornfield Hall in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre as it is said that she often stayed here.
Inside you can wander around the rooms where many original features have been maintained and eventually if you make it to the top of the house by climbing the crooked winding staircase you come out on the roof…not for the faint hearted!
Heritage Open Days celebrates England’s fantastic architecture and culture by offering free access to properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission. Every year on certain advertised days in September, buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors, ranging from castles to factories, town halls to tithe barns, parish churches to Buddhist temples. It is a once-a-year chance to discover hidden architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities which bring to life local history and culture.
Scotland holds a similar event and whilst on our journey home we came across this little Chapel in Ruthwell near Dumfries. A very simple little stone whitewashed building on the outside…
…but quite surprising inside – dramatic contrasting colours adorn the plastered walls and to one side is the finest example of an early Anglo-Saxon Stone Cross said to date from the 8th Century. It used to be located outside but has been brought inside to help preserve it where upon it had to be sunk into the floor because of its height. After our tour we were directed across to the little church hall to have tea and home-baked cakes…delicious!
Sadly we didn’t get to visit any of the open days this year nor make Tomato Chutney – where did September go?