Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sir John d'Abernon

In Cycle Rides round London, Charles Harper starts his 1902 ride from Esher to Stoke D'Abernon: "Leaving the village behind and pursuing the Portsmouth road". This is now the A307. Maybe it was because the cup final was on at the time,  but on this saturday afternoon it wasn't too busy, so I followed the same route, past Claremont house. Charles continued to Cobham before turning left, but I took a shorter route on quieter roads across country.

Saint Mary, at Stoke D'Abernon is a pretty church, with a host of interesting monuments, and with his liking for churches as museums, Simon Jenkins gives it three stars.

The picture shows one of the the remarkable 14th century brasses, of Sir John D'Abernon, which is possibly the oldest of its kind in England. There are also some monuments of local gentry reclining on their tombs, looking very relaxed, a collection of old stained glass, and some wall paintings.

Often on this project I find a church locked, and even when they are open, many are deserted. But for the second time on this outing I received a warm, and informative welcome. The people of Surrey certainly know how to help visitors appreciate their churches.

Charles Harper believed in speaking his mind: "Stoke Dabbernun, as the rustics call it, is at once exhausted of interest when its church has been seen". Oh dear.

On the way home, just beyond Cobham, a motorbike drew alongside me, and asked if I knew where the nearest petrol station was. He was running very low on fuel. I directed him back to one I had passed about two miles earlier. He turned round. I carried on, around the corner, and passed another 100 yards further on. I just hope he had enough fuel for a couple of miles. 

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