Hi! Welcome back to some more Adventures in Heritage! Lots has been going on for me this week – read on to find out more.
So I was back again at the Herbert this week. The new elements of the Rootes project still haven’t gotten into gear yet so I carried on making myself useful around the History Centre. I actually managed to finish sorting out all of the local history leaflets, which was a great achievement. Lots of interesting things including building notes about the new cathedral, a piece of piano music by Herbert Brewer and lots and lots about the city’s motor history (as if I needed to see any more of that!).
I got an exciting visit from the marketing team photographer who wanted to get some pictures of me in action for National Volunteers Week. I’m also going to be writing a blog about this for them so keep your eyes peeled – I’ll be sure to let you see the final product!
Then it was back to recording newspapers for the database. This got a laugh from some of the other members of staff because it turns out everyone gets one day a week to record, but the Friday person has gotten a little left behind so I’m doing them an enormous favour. I really don’t mind though – it’s all rather interesting. I’m mean, it’s extremely recent history. A lot of the sports supplements talk about the March to the Arch and the build up to the Checkertrade Trophy match – which the Sky Blues won! Felt a bit like a stitch in time to start with but I think I’ve gotten used to it now.
I finished up the day with a visit from one of the conservators at the Herbert. She explained that she was working on getting the next aspect of the Rootes project ready but that it might take a couple of weeks to come to fruition. I’m looking forward to it!
Rachel Reviews… Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses
As I was busy during the week it was decided that it would be best if we went for a visit on a Saturday, meaning we could go somewhere a little further afield. I seized the opportunity to visit the top of my heritage hit-list – Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses. Perhaps that doesn’t sound very exciting to you, but the Rock Houses at Kinver are literally houses that have been carved into a sandstone cliff at Holy Austin Rock. Simply incredible – and I’ve wanted to visit for ages and ages now.
Unfortunately, the weather decided that it wasn’t going to play ball with rain and wind plaguing us for most of the day. The walk up to the first level (there are 3 levels of houses) was nice enough, with a smooth incline that was easy for my grandma to walk up. But the tea room was on the top level and that was up a very steep set of stairs – accessibility is not great at this site.
The tea room, once we got there, was very nice and was set in the restored Victorian-style house. There was an amazing view from the top of Holy Austin Rock over Kinver and the surrounding countryside. I couldn’t help but think Wow, imagine waking up to that view every morning. Surprisingly they didn’t have a card machine, I expect that’s because of the bad signal, but there was no warning of this. Perhaps they should have a sign saying cash only at the bottom of the site so people can get their money before they make the steep climb.
After a quick lunch we took a look at the remains of the other house on this level. It was literally just a series of small caves with a nicely tiled floor. The soft nature of the sandstone that had helped the original inhabitants carve their homes into the rock has now been taken advantage of by visitors over the decades eager to leave their mark at a tourist destination.
The Middle level of the Rock Houses was out of bounds, probably due to unsafe structures. If you leaned far enough over the gate you could catch a glimpse of the remains of the houses on this level. There was also a nice little model of the front door of a hobbit hole, which made me laugh. It’s thought that these Rock Houses gave J.R.R Tolkien the inspiration for Hobbiton and The Shire, and this was a nice little tribute to that legend.
We then made our way down to the Lower level, where the 1930s house was. In here we found lots of information about the history of the houses, and even information about the occupants. One of them was a professional mole-catcher according to the census – what a job!
I was quite surprised at how cosy these houses were. I mean, it was a bit draughty and I’m sure the houses were always damp but wasn’t that common in most houses at the time? I probably wouldn’t mind living in one (if I had WiFi and some very thick socks, of course). It felt really rather homely – especially with the roaring fire in one of the back rooms.
Once we’d finished looking around the houses my mum and I decided to go and have a look at the Iron Age barrow on the top of Kinver Edge (Granny decided to stay behind). It was a good walk up to the top, even if I neglected to bring my inhaler with me. Once we reached the top we realised that we wouldn’t have much time as a huge black storm cloud was bearing down on us. There wasn’t much to see of the barrow, and we didn’t have the time to do much looking but a very sweet dog bounded over to say hello. The heavens well and truly opened then, so we made our way back down to the car and decided to call it a day.
We had a very good day out at Kinver Edge, despite the weather’s best efforts. The site was extremely interesting, and the stories of the occupants were just the icing on the cake. The volunteers were really good as well, a lot of them able to give personal details about the site which was just brilliant. We’ll definitely be going back again to take a closer look at Kinver Edge and see if there are some clearer remains of the Iron Age barrow. 4 stars – ★★★★
Thanks for reading this little blog and I’ll see you next week, hopefully having visited an equally awesome site!
See more of Rachel’s Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses pictures on Facebook!