Today is my birthday and it is my habit never to go to work on my birthday.
This habit possibly stems from school days, when to let anyone know it was your birthday was to put yourself into great jeopardy. Maybe the stress of those far-off days has scarred me; or maybe I just prefer to relax and take it easy on my birthday.
In either event, this year I found myself in Winchcombe. I had a very nice pub lunch in the Corner Cupboard Inn with my wife, and then we took a wander around the village.
Winchcombe is the quintessential gentile Cotswold village: all honey coloured stone and wonky half-timbered buildings housing antique shops. Apparently, it has not always been such a tranquil, well-to-do place, however.
In the Restoration period, Winchcombe was a very poor place and was noted for cattle rustling and other lawlessness. Local people took to growing tobacco to make ends meet, despite the fact that this had been outlawed since the Commonwealth. Soldiers were sent in on at least one occasion to destroy the illegal crop
But, like many villages in the Cotswolds, in the Middle Ages Winchcombe was known for wool. Merchants got very rich in the wool trade and some of their wealth was spent on wool churches: in Winchcombe this is St Peter’s Church.
A church dedicated to St Peter existed in the village by 1175, probably on the site of an earlier Saxon church, but the existing church dates from the fifteenth century. It is a very attractive church with some great grotesques around the outside.
All of this provided plenty of fodder for my camera, especially as it was a most unseasonably balmy, bright day: definitely a much better way to spend my birthday than going to work.