Tuesday, October 04, 2016

It's a Cotswold Mystery

Back to the Cotswolds again. We drove through the picturesque town of Winchcombe en route to Hailes Abbey and Sudeley Castle. It's a town I wouldn't mind exploring a little more thoroughly. Next time!

Our intended destination on this warm July day was Hailes Abbey (also spelled Hayles). Just across the road from the Abbey ruins stood this charming stone church, with its graveyard enclosed in a low stone wall. It begged to be explored.

The church predates the Abbey by a century, and was built in the Norman style, in the late 12th century. I think it's one of the earliest buildings we visited. The stone floor is uneven, the walls rather rough, and there is an old organ that another elderly visitor attempted to play, with some success.

Medieval paintings are still seen on some of the walls, and in other places, remnants of paint confirm that the people of the time used colour for decoration in elaborate ways.

The leaded windows are not highly decorated and were added much later.

After the dissolution of the monasteries, the above window was removed from Hailes Abbey in 1789, then placed into the church here in 1903. During the time of the monasteries, this chapel was used as a place of worship for the public - for visitors and others who were not permitted to worship in the grand church on the Abbey grounds.

This inscription is part of the floor of the church, underneath which John Peak is buried. 

In the graveyard outside, I was intrigued by the inscription on this not-so-very-old gravestone. 

"Things are as big as you make them
I can fill a whole body
a whole day of life
with worry
about a few words
on one scrap of paper; 
yet, the same evening,
looking up,
can frame my fingers
to fit the sky
in my cupped hands."

What could it mean I wonder? I did a little internet searching after arriving home and discovered a very tragic tale - Lucy Katherine Partington was a murder victim who disappeared when she was 21 and no one knew what had happened to her for 20 years. When her remains were discovered, they were buried in Exeter, Devon.

I think the words on the tombstone were written by a novelist, Martin Amis, apparently a cousin of Lucy's. But why, is it here, in this small, out-of-the-way graveyard? That's the mystery. (see note at the end of the post)

And one more detail from the church interior - remnants of rich red paint. How stunning it must have looked to the worshipers who gathered here.

I've not written a post about Hailes Abbey. There are still so many stories to share from our trip - I hope you're not tiring of reading them. We had so many rich and varied experiences. 

I'm off to an educator's conference for a couple of days, then it will be Thanksgiving weekend. I'll catch up with reading blogs later. To my Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving!

edited to add: Many thanks to Rosemary, of Where Five Valleys Meet, who lives in the Cotswolds and provided more complete information than I could find on line. The words on the marker are Lucy's own. The marker was placed in this particular graveyard as a memorial stone because it was a place she loved to visit. Lucy's sister wrote a book touching on forgiveness - a most difficult thing after such a horrific tragedy.  


  1. You once again took us on a wonderful tour. I would love to find out more about the poor girl who was murdered.

  2. Lucy was a final year English student at Exeter Universtity. She was on her way home from a friends house in Cheltenham to her parents home near Hailes Abbey. She was abducted by Rosemary and Fred West, now known as vicious, notorious and sadistic killers from Gloucester. Her body was eventually discovered in the West's cellar in Gloucester many years after their crimes came to light along with many other female victims.
    Martin Amis was her cousin but the words on the tomb are her own. Martin wrote about her in his book Experience.
    Fred West committed suicide in prison but Rosemary is still alive in Durham Jail and refuses to throw any light on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of all their victims.

  3. When we visited Cotswolds in July, the landlord of the B&B, where we stayed four night, took us to this old church. We're surprised with the floor stone under which someone was buried. It's unbelievable to us.

  4. I love visiting such historical places. And if I can't actually be there, then the next best thing is through your posts. Very sad about Lucy. From Rosemary's comment, I see it was a tragic, horrible death. So sad and scary what some people are capable of.

  5. Never too much of this stuff, Lorrie...LOVE it all & look forward to more. So interesting & educational. You make me 'google' a million other trails.

    Safe travels & enjoy your Thanksgiving when you return.

  6. A beautiful scene, hopefully haunted, a sad story, a mystery. Oh, how lovely. There is a story here waiting to be written.

  7. Ahhh...you could scratch up a novel yourself pretty easily. Lovely read, except for Lucy's sad story. The stuff of novels...

    Oh, btw, I had to wait, but a Louise Penney/Penny novel became a available. It's an audio one so I am hoping to listen while working at the ranch.

  8. These places have a special place in my heart, thank you for having taken me with you in these amazing part of England, dearest Lorrie !

    Hope you're having the best of weeks
    I'm sending hugs and ever much love to you

    Xx Daniela

  9. When we visited Scotland, we were delightfully surprised at the bright colors that had been used in very old days. Stirling Castle was a revelation to me. So beautiful.

    This church is just the kind of exploring I enjoy! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  10. Anonymous9:14 AM

    Wonderful photos from Hailes Abbey. We were there in 2004 with a non-digital camera. You really saw some great details. I will never tire of posts from England! Keep them coming...
    Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you!

  11. Lorrie, I notice you said next time, you would like to take more time to explore. These villages are so intriguing. Yes I remember saying the very same. Thankyou for sharing you do it so well.

  12. What a beautiful old chapel and an interesting history. The mystery of the young women is intriguing. I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving weekend.

  13. Such a beautiful place and a tragic story. The poor girl and her family.

  14. I quite enjoy your travelogues, Lorrie. Your beautiful images are always accompanied by interesting history! Have a great Thanksgiving!

  15. Wonderful post, Lorrie...you are living my dream getaway! I have a few blog and Instagram friends in the Cotswold and you are truly bringing this place to life with your pictures and words.

    Have a great time and thanks so much for letting us follow along!


  16. Lorrie I am just amazed by all of your lovely photos and facts from this trip. What a beautiful area and church and the mystery as well. Enjoy your Thanksgiving...I have always thought that the Canadian Thanksgiving, at the end of summer and harvest makes SO much more sense than ours in the USA when the harvest is far gone and we are in the midst of the drearies, late November.

  17. I'm loving these post Lorrie, keep them coming. England is a wonderful country to visit.

  18. Thanks for sharing this beautiful little church. Hope you have a wonderful conference and Thanksgiving.

  19. What a pretty place with so much rich history. Love the chapel and the mystery of the tragic young girl. I love the grave inscription. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving. x K

  20. Fascinating. I got caught up in trying to find out more about the inscription as well -- Partington's sister, Marian, is an astonishing model of forgiveness.. .

  21. This place, this inscription, and the story are sooo intriguing!!

  22. The age of buildings and old churches in Europe is mind boggling compared to our young country. Quite a mystery you've uncovered...
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  23. Love the old world


  24. Thank you for the beautiful tour ♥



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