The Mid-England Round Barrow is Finished!
This morning I arrived at the Mid-England Round Barrow at 9am. The reason for the early start? I was there by very special invitation from Richard and Sarah, so that I could be the first member of the public to walk into the finished Barrow. I cannot even begin to tell you what an absolute honour this was.
Rain was forecast (if you read my blog post about my first visit to the Barrow you will know that it rained then too ( https://www.ruthjewellcelebrant.co.uk/post/mid-england-round-barrow )), but I left home with bright blue skies, and had to wear my sunglasses whilst driving. It was, thankfully, still dry when I arrived, the wonderful wooden gate rolling back to let me in.
Sarah had filled the kettle, but I couldn't wait to see the Barrow, so we headed straight over. Unlike last time it was obvious now where the Barrow is, but that is only because the soil was only put on it yesterday, and so the grass needs time to grow. Once it is covered in lush grass it will be hard to spot again, as it will blend in beautifully. Even so it is an incredible sight.
All of the ground work has now been completed (flip-flops were suitable footwear) and we ambled along the pathway, flanked by grasses and wild flowers. Turning the final bend and catching sight of the entrance took my breath away. From that angle you are given a tantalising glimpse of the entrance between the large stone pillars, and I was instantly transported back to my childhood, visiting ancient barrows.
The standing stone now does what it is there to do, and stands proudly in front of the completed structure. Stand behind it and you can see directly through to the main chamber, in a perfect line down the passageway. Likewise, stand in the main chamber and the stone is visible with the vista beyond. I can only begin to imagine how beautiful this will look when the sun rises, in mid-summer, over the trees beyond.
I could only liken myself to a child in a sweet shop. The entrance is flanked by two large pillars of stone with a huge lintel stone above. The seats on either side provide a welcome resting place should you need one, but just to be able to sit and admire the craftsmanship in the stonework is definitely worthwhile. Those craftsmen have utilised the best part of every stone, and fossils can be found if you look hard enough. Remember that every single stone was hand-picked to fit into the space, it must have been a painstaking task.
The stunning wrought iron gate leads you into the Barrow. Richard had been busy adding some tealights, battery ones on the lower alcoves so they wouldn't catch anyone's clothes. The effect was magical. My eyes soon became accustomed to the lower light level, and this alone was exciting, it was almost as if the Barrow was slowly revealing itself.
I instinctively turned right, into one of the smaller chambers, quite possibly because this is where I placed a child's shoe in the wall, for luck, on my last visit. Wow. How amazing it felt to be standing inside the finished Barrow, and oh, how incredible that it smelt exactly the same as all those Barrows I had stood in as a child. The earth and stone combining together with the stillness and quiet, I was instantly transported back.
The chambers felt light and airy which, considering the weight of the stone and earth above and around, seems strange, but they felt like comfortable places to be. I could have stayed for hours.
The large chamber contained some examples of the types of urns that have been handcrafted. Richard and Sarah have worked tirelessly to bring on board craftsmen and women who can supply urns and niche covers, ensuring a widespread of options for their customers, and in fact Nigel and Carol from Pegg's Yard ( https://www.peggsyard.co.uk/) were due to visit at 10am.
Sarah and I headed back to the safari tent, but on the way stopped to look at a large piece of stone, cut from one of the lintels. This will be sited near the entrance, and will be a resting place. This resting place will be a lovely place to sit, but also a fitting resting place for a coffin, an urn, or flowers during a service. Sarah suggested that families would be able to place the urn on the stone when they visit, and maybe enjoy some quiet moments together outdoors, or even have a family picnic. The stone will be raised up slightly off the ground, and is another wonderful touch to an already wonderful place.
Having had a cup of tea and biscuit (you can rely on me to provide biscuits), we opened up the safari tent just in time for Nigel and Carol's arrival. Based in Suffolk the couple had stayed overnight in the area and used the opportunity to call in and have a tour. It was a great opportunity for me to meet them both, and to learn about their business.
We walked across to the Barrow, and it was lovely to see their reactions. Richard and I stood in the entrance as the rain arrived, and left them to explore with Sarah.
Two residents have already set up home in the Barrow, a small frog and a butterfly. The gate allows them to come and go. It seems that I am not the only one who finds it enchanting and welcoming!
Over another cup of tea we were able to talk about Pegg's Yard. Nigel makes tiny coffins for babies, and caskets for ashes. Each one is lovingly crafted, and their aim is to give more choice to those who have lost someone they love. It was clear that we all held the same values and ethos, and do what we do because it is such a privilege to support people at the most difficult time in their lives.
Sarah and Richard have been on an amazing journey to reach this point. A seed of an idea has finally become a reality, they have overcome difficulties along the way, battled with the weather and bureaucracy, but have held tight to their dream. I am so pleased for them both that they did, what an incredible legacy they have created.
Niches are already being booked. If you are interested then please get in touch with Richard or Sarah, there are only a limited number available. Unlike a house they cannot extend the Barrow! You can reserve a niche, or purchase one as a fitting resting place for ashes you already have. There will now be regular open days. If you are interested then I urge you to arrange a visit, my photos and ramblings cannot even begin to replicate the physical feeling of walking into the Barrow, and being hit by that "hairs standing up on your arm feeling" of just...... Wow.
I cannot even begin to find the words to express my thanks to Sarah and Richard. To be the first member of the public to visit the barrow was a huge privilege, and one that I will hold dear forever more, a tiny bit of the Barrow's history, but a huge part of mine. I am still grinning like crazy. It really is a very s