The book “England : travels in an unwrecked landscape” published in 1996 is a collection of essays by the late Candida Lycett-Green which first appeared in The Oldie magazine.
My well-thumbed copy
If you enjoy discovering lovely places here in England this book can act as a guide. But I’ve also enjoyed just reading it from cover to cover.
I’m fairly familiar with the area of Worcestershire near Bredon Hill on the edge of the Cotswolds. For decades now on travels between Leeds and Devon we’ve always broken our journeys with lunch at The Fleece in Bretforton. It is exactly halfway along our route.
The Fleece Inn at Bretforton, Worcestershire
So when planning to visit Cornwall last year I looked for a B&B nearby and found one just under Bredon Hill. I stayed again on both journeys this year, too. Cornwall is very much further than the eastern Devon areas where we regularly stay.
Candida wrote about nearby Elmley Castle which is not an actual castle (there may have been one there at one time, I suppose) but the name of a truly delightful village on the northeastern edge of Bredon Hill.
“Elmley Castle is a glorious village. It is tucked under beautiful Bredon Hill, justly one of the most sung hills in England. If you approach it from the east, through proper plum country with laden September trees, on the very outskirts of the village you will come on Elms Cottage – spick and span and surrounded by one of those prize-winning gardens you cannot believe is real. The lawns are of a smooth green velvet and each rich and gaudy bedding plant is grown to its exemplary biggest and best.”
Elms Cottage (sadly a bit too ‘tarted up’ now)
My visit was in the evening – hence the rather dark pictures. Simon Jenkins also writes about Elmley Castle church in his 1000 Best. Of course, the church was closed by the evening but there’s a lovely 17th century stone sundial in the churchyard that just caught the fading sun.
The Closed Church of St Mary
Candida goes on to quote Humphrey Packington in his 1930s book “English villages and hamlets”.
Castle Elmley is ‘A true midland medley of half-timber, brick, and stone. One of the most peaceful and comfortable of little places. May heaven preserve you from all molestation, most loved of all Worcestershire villages‘. Amen!
A Thatched Beauty!
I hope I’ll have the opportunity in future to climb Bredon Hill, revisit Castle Elmley and look at the other villages around the edge of the Hill.