Busk Coppice and Quarry Hill

St Mary's, Stanford with Orleton, looking South

St Mary’s, Stanford with Orleton, looking South

Under the Spreading Chestnut tree

Under the Spreading Chestnut tree

On Thursday February 14th, having opened all our cards and under grey skies, Ian, Mike and self, continued our foray into the Teme Valley and you know, sounds daft, but it really does feel like exploration when for us, checking out the rocks is a novel experience.  Anyway, we headed first to St Marys, Stanford, to see if we could find on the ground evidence of the mapped Raglan Sandstones in the land above the church. At the spot under a spreading chestnut tree we did indeed find sandstone rocks but these were scattered about and could possibly have been from local building works although at the time we preferred not to see them that way. To us they seemed similar to the church and to local walls of the old rectory just across the road.

Sandstone from West of St Mary's

Sandstone from West of St Mary’s

Sandstone from West of St Mary's

Sandstone from West of St Mary’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelling up the road by car, we entered Busk Coppice to show Mike the large quarry found on our last visit—did this supply the stone to St Marys’ Stanford, but where is the lime kiln that Mr Churchill the farmer had told us about?

Lime Kiln in Busk Coppice

Lime Kiln in Busk Coppice

Lime Kiln Busk Coppice

Lime Kiln Busk Coppice

We wandered about down into gullies keeping in mind that it would not be far from the Bishops Frome layer, here underlying the quarried rock, St Maughans sandstone.  We gave up and called the farmer who directed us back up the track to a shooting platform and

Conical Kiln in the Undergrowth

Conical Kiln in the Undergrowth

 

Sketch of Lime Kiln, Busk Coppice

Sketch of Lime Kiln, Busk Coppice

goodness, there, not 3 metres from the trail, was a deep conical brick lined pit, a danger to anyone not seeing it, set in a levelled off terrace.  On the terrace below was a substantial brick built arched construction leading into the terrace and under the cone. A magnificent example of an ancient kiln, a little the worse for wear and needing attention to remove trees and soil but other than that looked like it could be relit straight away. This would have been used to make lime for mortar for building and for the fields and was slap bang into the Bishops Frome limestone, the calcrete (fossilised soil) referred to in other posts. According to Mr Churchill, a farm worker by the name of Tommy Tucker used to live in the arched kiln.  A little archaeological investigation sounds in order. Read Nils Wilkes fascinating study of Lime Kilns in Worcestershire HERE

So you burn limestone at 900C thus converting it from Calcium Carbonate to Quicklime and Carbon Dioxide, then you slake it with water making Calcium Hydroxide, known as lime putty, used as the base for a slow setting, traditional mortar still used in renovation work today.

That accomplished we went by car along the charming, twisty, switchback lane to just beyond Orleton until we reached the foot of Quarry Hill—the clue being in the name.

Valley Geological Map from BGS

Valley Geological Map from BGS, click to enlarge

This is an outlier from the main escarpment.  The geological maps show the limestone outcropping around the whole of the Bromyard plateau, with an island of it on top of Quarry Hill.

According to the maps the limestone was set in a sea of (Silurian) Raglan Mudstone only, and as we struggled up the wooded precipitous hillside littered with fallen trees, the redness of the soil seemed to indicate that this was the case.  There were occasional obvious trackways contouring the slopes, signs of forestry work or perhaps quarrying, who knows?  In the red roots of fallen trees we searched for stone as tell-tale of underlying rock and these at first were typical of Raglan sandstone.  Continuing to force our way upwards to the very top we discovered a substantial area clearly shaped by human endeavour.  There were no rock faces but the humps and bumps seemed to show that much of the top layer of limestone had been removed.  We did uncover large stones set in a semi-circle, perhaps the foundation of a kiln?

Conglomerate, both ruddy and grey with bedrock behind

Conglomerate, both ruddy and grey with bedrock behind

Just down the slope, we chanced upon exposed bedrock and took samples.  To our surprise these mirrored an earlier finding some way down the slope (that we had tried to ignore), of a coarse conglomerate, not what we expected at all.  One was ruddy, the other light grey, found 3-400mm above one another in clear layers.  The map shows (Devonian) St Maughans conglomerate in a number of places, but nowhere near this spot, and certainly none below the limestone. So how to explain this?  We retrieved our samples, cleaned them and will set them before the oracle as soon as we can.

Conglomerate

Conglomerate

Top of Quarry Hill, Mike on Access Trackway

Top of Quarry Hill, Mike on Access Trackway

Teme Valley around Stanford

Teme Valley around Stanford

More Quarry Hunting

hmm, our quarry was a quarry, a quarry or quarries that supplied stone (St Maughans) to local buildings, for example St Mary’s, Stanford with Orleton.

Another magnificent perfect blue sky winter day, ice in the shade, crystal views in all directions, what better place to be than the Teme Valley near Stanford even if for much of the time we were slipping through mud and tripping over brambles.  Having phoned first, Ian and I called and made our acquaintance with Mr Churchill who tenants Fall Farm.  He kindly allowed us on land alongside the Bromyard Road where Mr Lane had told us there would be a stone quarry, and indeed a crag is marked on the OS map.  Mr C told us of a lime kiln near the quarry and a place where years ago a farm worker used to live, saying he was surprised that the kiln was not listed.

After a bit of a false start on a trail that dead ended in impenetrable woodland we found good, if muddy tracks and around the corner there was the quarry.

Ian, for scale, on the quarry face

Ian, for scale, on the quarry face

Now well taken back into nature so very little rock was showing it was nevertheless clear enough to access the face.  On the day, Ian was the more agile so scrambled up the slope, found some rock and we brought back a few samples. After scrubbing up and a full dishwasher cycle see below for a picture of micaceous sandstone we believe to be St Maughans, a Devonian Formation, used in many local buildings. Realising that St M

St Maughans from the Quarry

St Maughans from the Quarry

along this part of the valley, sits atop Bishops Fromelimestone (formerly Psammosteus), Ian descended into the steep Vee side dingle below the quarry and lo and behold with a bit of digging about, found the typical noduley limestone that typifies this calcrete or fossilised soil, picture below.

We did not locate the lime kiln, this requires another visit, but one can only assume that it was placed there to take advantage of the calcrete,

St Mary's Church

St Mary’s Church

there being to our knowledge no other sources of lime this side of the valley.  We need to check but it could be that the main quarry was the source of stone for St Mary’s Church that sits so proudly on a promontory over the valley above Stanford Court, built there when a large lake was required in front of the Court.

Washed and dried specimens (click to enlarge):

Bishops Frome and St Maughans

Bishops Frome and St Maughans

Bishops Frome and St Maughans

BF and St M 2

Stanford Reminiscences

indebted to Robin Dean, good friend and churchwarden at St Mary’s Stanford with Orleton for the reminiscences as audio recordings for your enjoyment:

Robin’s note to me:

There is some good audio stuff on the parish website – the Temple was a house of ill repute according to John Shew (who used to farm Noverton) although it does not get into his recording (Stanford Temple and Church) – just in the description. Also a brief audio on Southstone Rock by John (Hermits living in the woods).

http://www.temevalleysouth.org.uk/media/

The Picturesque Movement and Satanic Teme Valley

Thanks To Kate Andrew, Project Manager leading the Building Stones Project based at the University of Worcester, for the following notes on the history and industry of the Teme Valley in the Shelsley area. These follow on from recent blogs about tufa and lost quarries.

Tufa: In terms of tufa formation, Beryl Harding wrote a really good paper about it in the Woolhope Transactions in about 2000 – this covers Southstone rock – photosynthesing moss and a drop in pH are critical to the CaCo3 coming out of solution and precipitating.

Coal: In Abberley there is a thin coal seam more or less at the boundary of the Halesowen Sandstone and Halesowen mudstone and then better seams that were mined up until the 1920s

The Temple and Stanford Court (the Court was the location of Forest Fencing) was a planned landscape garden and Kate suspects the Temple was part of that – could have had a cold plunge pool in it or been a place for banqueting and parties.

Kate’s Internet research reveals that Sir Edward Winnington (owner of Stanford court and brother in law to a Foley of Witley Court, before the Dudleys) and Richard Payne Knight were friends and both interested in the Picturesque movement, Stanford Bridge being built in 1794 by Nash, the architect of the Picturesque.

Richard Payne Knight was one of the founders of the Picturesque movement and created an enhanced landscape with hermitages, caves, springs, cold plunge baths etc upstream from all his forges and furnaces in Downton Gorge (on the Upper Teme below Leintwardine). The thrill was the contrast of dark satanic mills of iron production with wild “natural” beauty. This was in the 1780s-1820s time period.

A temple and hermitage are mentioned on the register of parks and gardens for Stanford Court, so Kate suggests that this is likely to be a Picturesque movement landscape hidden under the undergrowth. Kate conducted in depth research on Thomas Andrew Knight, Richard Payne’s younger brother and this involved looking into Knight family history and iron workings, among many other things.

Iron forging – the critical thing was decent water supply for bellows to get the furnaces up to high enough temperature and a good supply of wood close by for charcoal production – this is pre-industrial revolution/ Abraham Darby/ Coalbrookdale iron we are talking about. The iron ore could be brought in by pack horse or river as it is much easier to move than charcoal (which disintegrates if moved and is then no use) and decent water supply for power. You don’t need limestone flux if using charcoal for smelting as it is the sulphur in the coal of later processes that causes the problems. There were small forges all over the place in these parts, both smelting ore and working the pig iron with forge hammers – the critical thing was a decent water supply close to charcoal.

There is an interesting comparator with forges in the Downton Gorge owned by Richard Payne Knight.

Searching for ORS Quarries

The above acronym was useful for one thing, it allowed me to fit the title all on one line, but they are not helpful to use unless in very common parlance.

Old Red Sandstone (mainly Devonian) forms the bulk of what we from Martley see across the Teme.  There is no Devonian in Martley but there are one or two buildings, most notably the Old School by the Church, made from a grey/green sandstone (one wonders if geologists have hyper eyesight at times) that certainly does not occur locally.  Travel to Clifton and especially Bromyard and many buildings are from the same material, so what is it?  Years have gone by and no answer to this, one would have thought simple, question was found in spite of 3 or 4 geologists being asked their opinion.  So, we made our own decision by concluding the flippin’ obvious–St Maughans Formation–has to be, indeed is.

Our interview last week with John Lane suggested three quarry sites near Stanford and this Sunday, Mike, Jane, Colin and self had a fabulous walk in brilliant, sunny but cold weather, tramping the dingles and hills near Park Farm, Stanford Court and Stanford Church. Where the land slopes steeply from the Bromyard plateau down to the Teme Valley it is heavily wooded, a tangled and often impenetrable jungle with access ways for those who rear pheasants and remove timber.  There is a good rights of way network too and the signage not bad given the remote location.

We reckon we found the site of one St Maughans quarry (there are two more to investigate but we ran out of time).  There was a pretty little spring rising in a small cave under massive, bedded sandstone and being winter the best time to observe rocks that in summer will be well covered up.

Just around the corner from the quarry we came across the fabled Temple of Temple dingle (GR SO370253 264721), a place both Mike and I had long heard of but never been able to find.  There it was, at the side of a very good track, terribly ruined but showing its obvious former splendour. Who built it?  When? How long was it occupied?  Many questions and will attempt to find answers–some of you may know, if so please would you contact me, thanks?

Pictures:

  • Tangled Woodland Tangled Woodland
  • The Temple West Front The Temple West Front
  • The Temple South East The Temple South East
  • The Temple East Side The Temple East Side Outer wall this end has collapsed
  • The Temple from the North The Temple from the North
  • The Temple and Retaining Wall The Temple and Retaining Wall
  • Is this a Quarry Site? Is this a Quarry Site?
  • or this? or this?
  • Pretty Cave with Spring Pretty Cave with Spring
  • Access Tracks--Very Muddy! Access Tracks--Very Muddy!
  • Spring with St Maughans Spring with St Maughans
  • St Maughans St Maughans

Threatened Closure of Ludlow Museum Resource Centre

NB A well attended (200) meeting was held in Ludlow and signatures are being collected, I know some of you have added yours to the cause.  Here is Janet’s note after the meeting:

BBC Radio Shropshire attended the overwhelmingly supported open meeting which the Friends of Ludlow Museum held last week. They interviewed many and now are broadcasting an hour long phone-in programme (3rd Feb 10-11am) with the Leader of Shropshire Council, Keith Barrow, answering the questions.

Many thanks for all your support and if you haven’t yet please sign the e-petition : 

1000 signatures needed, see message below.  LMRC is a nationally important centre for geology so TVGS is supporting them in their bid to prevent its closure:

I am a committee member of the Friends of Ludlow Museum and we would like The Woolhope Club to be aware of the proposed closure by Shropshire Council of the LMRC and ask for your support in our fight to stop this. Knowledge of and access to the collections including the nationally important geology collections also will disappear; the 3 curators were informed of their redundancy just before Christmas. I could go on – suffice it to say we are holding a Public Meeting in Ludlow at Oscars, in the Assembly Rooms, at 11 am on Thursday, 22 January to fight this. Michael Rosenbaum, Emeritus Professor of Geology will chair an open discussion and we will launch an e-petition to get the 1000+ signatures we need to get this matter on the agenda of the full Shropshire Council on 26 February, to be reconsidered.
If you could provide me with an email address I would be delighted to send you our Press Release, the poster announcing the meeting and the LMRC Briefing document which details the services they provide and 2013/14 usage statistics. Please forward this email to all your departments. I shall hope to hear from you very soon and hope The Woolhope members will add their weight to this campaign.Any comments can also be sent to SaveLMRC@gmail.comMany thanks
Janet Rolfe Smith