Event led by Peter O
Attendance: 13 men
Distance: 9.8 miles (15.78 km)
Time: start 11:10, end 15:59, lunch 42 minutes
Terrain: footpath, bridleway, field-edge, grass, pavement, road, track.
Elevation: start 146m, high 160m, low 100m
Weather: mainly sunny, with occasional minor cloud cover, dry, cool breeze.
Number of sewage works on the walk: 0
Number of golf courses on the walk: 0
Number of churches on the walk: 1
Number of listed buildings on the walk: ~9
Number of scheduled monuments on the walk: 1.
Number of airports on the walk: 1, LTN, easterlies, departure on route RNAV1.
This was a 9.8-mile circular walk from the village of Breachwood Green. Starting from the village, the route went W towards Luton via Colemans Green, Darleyhall and Wandon End, around the edge of Luton Airport to Someries, SE towards Chiltern Green, Peter's Green and Perry Green, NE to Bendish then W to return to the start point.
This walk was a longer version of the walk of 11Jan2014, https://www.goc.org.uk/reports/article/11-january-2014--breachwood-green.
This walk combined three environments: countryside with hamlets, the suburban environment around an airport, rolling countryside with views. We had lunch in some old ruins, where we met an artiste at work. And we did lots of great planespotting.
During the walk, the airport changed its runway direction, so we were able to enjoy watching one arriving aeroplane and equally to enjoy being deafened by departing aircraft while we sat in the pub’s beer garden!
Pictures, with captions
History of Someries Castle
Darwin’s Bio-Orchestra: an artiste in Someries Castle
Someries Castle was built 1440-1460 and was built mainly in the then new-fangled invention known as “bricks”. Its commissioner and resident was Lord John Wenlock, the Chamberlain to Queen Margaret of Anjou, the wife of Henry VI. The name derives from the de Somery family of Dudley, West Midlands, who owned the medieval manor on which Someries Castle was built.
Lord John died in the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. From this point, historians disagree as to the ownership of the building. Two public interpretation boards disagree, and the history registered on the official listing says something else!
One board mounted on 14 April 2018 claims that:
the Crown inherited John’s estates in 1471;
Robert Napier of Luton Hoo bought the property in 1661;
An inventory in 1606 found at least 24 rooms.
An older board, mounted on 03 April 2014, claimed that:
Sir John Napier inherited the property in 1724;
Sir John Napier pulled the property down in 1742;
An inventory in 1606 found 21 rooms.
The official listing claims that:
Thomas Rotherham, Bishop of Lincoln and later Archbishop of York, inherited the estate from Lord John Wenlock in 1471;
King James I stayed there with one of Rotherham’s descendents in 1605;
An inventory in 1606 found 20 rooms.
Consensus breaks out amongst the historians regarding Someries Castle’s history from 1742, where they all agree that demolition happened. Local farm buildings became the main beneficiaries of the bricks released from the demolished building.
Today, the site stands isolated in the parish of Hyde, Bedfordshire. It used to be part of a much larger parish of Luton, long before the concept of an airport existed. The Castle was located close to the River Lea, which creates easy passage through the Chiltern hills. This made Someries Castle designed to impress; it had no function in trade or military.
Next to the ruins, in private land, are the ruins of formal gardens. Today, these are grass-covered earthworks (a hump, basically).
The official listing of the scheduled monument is very detailed, including the basis of the listing, its context in history, the pattern to its designation and the history of the building itself.
In Someries Castle, we met an artiste!
As at April 2018, an arts department of Bedfordshire University - “testbeds” - had commissioned artist Gayle Storey to collaborate with the Royal College of Music to produce a bio-orchestral score of music from Luton’s environment.
Storey’s role in this collaboration is to visit various sites in and around Luton with a plant, acupunctured with pins in its leaves, sat in a plastic box, a camera pointing at it, and a white screen behind the plant. At regular points in the day, the angles of the leaves are marked on the white screen. The angles of the leaves move during the day, as the plant moves to catch as much sunlight as it can. This process of capturing the imagery is a “bio-reading”. The resulting image of dots is then - somehow - an input into musical composition.
For more details about this project - including who shall compose the music and who shall perform it - please refer to www.testbeds.beds.ac.uk. Storey has also maintained a blog, which lists the locations of the bio-readings.
For us, we had simply expected Someries Castle to be a place to eat lunch in unusual surroundings. So it was quite a shock for us to find two artists doing live art stuff. To be fair, it was probably far more of a shock for Storey to have 13 gay men suddenly turn up!
Photos by Peter O’Connor and Martin Thornhill. Words by Martin Thornhill.