Formally a school teacher, Joan is a mine of information about local history and is well known locally for her paintings and pastels. I think she must be in her late seventies or early eighties. She is one very determined woman and keeps on going, despite severe problems with her eyesight.
On a recent walk we went over the little Belleau bridge, it is a post medieval, arched, brick bridge which leads into a farmyard - at first sight it is like any other farmyard. Explore a little more and there are great treasures to be seen.
Lovely ramshackle buildings with ancient beams.
This is a working farm, we just hit lucky that it was a quiet day and we were free to explore a little. The original medieval Belleau Manor House stood on a moated island, the moat was up to 14 metres wide in parts. Most of this has now been infilled. The little brick bridge is thought to occupy the site of the original access to this island.
|The listed barn, see all those alterations and exciting remnants|
The Belleau Manor House which Joan lived in was a late 17th century building, and was thought to have been an extension to the earlier hall.
This strange little building is what remains of a 20th century stable block. It was constructed in 1904 and incorporates all that remains of the house of Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, which belonged to Sir Harry Vane after the Civil War.
The gable has reset deeply moulded Tudor archway with a Wild Man, or Green Man, corbel. The Wild Man is a symbol of the Willoughby d'Eresby family, and the archway was formerly in the gatehouse of the mansion. Unfortunately because there were animals in the field (protected by an electric fence) we couldn't get any closer - not even for blogging purposes. Sorry!
Just across from the farmyard is this lovely old Tudor dovecote. Built in the 16th century, it is octagonal in shape and is made from brick with a slate roof. All the original roof timbers survive, internally it is full of nesting boxes. You can see the one tiny entrance (for humans) in this photograph.
I would love to have the time to dig and delve into some more of the history of Belleau, but at the moment we are coming in for lots of baby and child-sitting duties. Days whizz by. Once things settle down I will do that research and post. How I would love to have free access to roam around and try to absorb some of the atmosphere of this place! On the plus side, at least it is only a ten minute walk away!
PS Sir Henry Vane lived at Belleau Manor from 1650-1660. He was a Parliamentarian during the Civil War although he later became disenchanted with Cromwell’s government. During the reign of Charles II, when the monarchy was reinstated, he was beheaded at Tower Hill.