Boundaries, Borders and Landmarks
with Richard Churchley
Thursday 25 October 2018
Dr. Richard Churchley made a welcome return to the Society with a talk entitled “Boundaries, Borders and Landmarks”.
Beginning with a quotation from the local author Fred Archer and continuing with “Mending Walls” from his favourite poet Robert Frost, Dr Churchley examined the historical aspects of “boundaries”. He explained how a local area was considered to be ‘our country’, a term still used for the Black Country, and land beyond were ‘foreign parts’ such that adjacent villages could be rivals and antagonists, each being foreign to the other. The importance of the Parish and its boundaries, boundaries only remembered through the ‘beating of the bounds’ (boundaries) each year when such as particular trees, for example the Gospel Oak, were engraved in the memory as markers. The demarcation of the ‘Hundred’, that area which would support one hundred families dating back to Saxon times, is still evident in the local Kiftsgate stone.
Perhaps some of the most useful natural boundaries were the rivers and hills, both the River Severn and the Malvern Hills being used as county boundaries. Where no natural boundaries occurred artificial ones had to be made, walls and hedges being the best options. Even here, it was pointed out, differences in the way hedges were laid, and walls and stiles built, were characteristic of the locality. Stiles, direction posts and milestones were seen as local landmarks and Dr Churchley finished his talk by showing a selection of local and not so local landmarks – challenging the audience to identify them and for their location to be given. A very interesting talk firmly based in the local area.