Droitwich Double 8
9th July 2011
After more overnight rain, it dawned clear and bright. Just the sort of day for a wander into Wolverley. We have been here before, but the village is so lovely its worth a repeat visit.
Wolverley from the canal
We marched up the hill to St John the Baptist, the red brick parish church perched on top of its sandstone outcrop. The sun came out and we soon found ourselves discarding our fleeces in an attempt to keep cool.
St John the Baptist, Wolverley
Belle went off foraging in the graveyard and I went for a wander round the church itself. Much to my surprise, the door stood wide open so I went inside to take a look. The verger was in doing some cleaning and after a slightly cautions greeting she soon realised I was genuinely interested and warmed to her theme, and she should know - she is a third generation verger!
Wolverley's stained glass window
... and historical tapestry
There is more to this church than meets the eye. There has been place on the site for hundreds of years but the present church was mainly built between 1772 and 1812. On the face if it, it is a mordenish redbrick building but scratch away at the surface and you will find a more traditional sandstone tower which has been covered over. This inner layer of sandstone can be seen among the foundations and within the bell tower. This little village is proud of its church and has developed it over the years, upgrading its bells to its current full compliment of eight but retaining the tenor and trebles which date from 1737, ringing out the changes since before the canal was dug.
Berenice Holyland - verger and ambassador for the village
But it was the verger that I found most fascinating. Her name - Berenice Holyland, 7th child of Mary Magdalene Matthews - with a pedigree like that a commitment to the church appears unavoidable! But it didn't stop there. She was born in the now demolished lock keepers cottage at Court Lock (Wolverley), a property devoid of water, electricity or sewage. She explained that her father was a boatman moving coal from the Cannock coal fields to Stourport using horse drawn boats, as poor as a church mouse but offering a great childhood.
Scenes from the village square (triangle)
Everything about Wolverley feels cared for, the church, the pretty village shop, the putting green and the thriving pub. Perhaps the village shop was the jewel in the crown at the time of our visit, doubling up as an al fresco coffee shop and cafe with locals sipping lattes and downing bacon butties in the warm summer sunshine. You could be forgiven for thinking you are in France.
Wolverley houses carved into the rock
All this enthusing about Wolverley isn't getting us home - more of that in my next post.