A Wood Engraving of the view from Symonds Yat Rock from Coming Down The Wye by Robert Gibbings. Engraving by the Author.
Set on the banks of the River Wye, the sleepy hamlet of Hoarwithy is another of Ledburyshire’s glories. Blink and you’ll miss it. Situated on the ‘Hereford side’ of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the small village consists of a pub, a handful of Bed and Breakfasts, a riverside campsite and St Catherine’s Church.
The simple stone structure originally built in 1840 was redesigned when Reverend William Poole arrived in Hoarwithy in 1854 as the new vicar. Seemingly uninspired by the unembellished construction, Poole set about rebuilding the church. He employed architect J.P. Seddon and a whole host of craftsmen and materials from Italy and Europe. The Italianate vision was built around the existing chapel and is a unique testimony to Poole’s eccentricity; the interior is made up of a fabulous domed ceiling supported by pillars of French marble, wood carvings of British Saints, marble alter and entrancing stained glass windows.
Intricate flooring and carved Sandstone pillars
Just down from the church, a three story toll house sits at the side of the iron bridge which was built to replace the ferry crossing in 1876. The River Wye snakes away under Sellack Suspension Footbridge, down to Goodrich Castle and Symonds Yat and beyond to the English Welsh Border.
Sellack Suspension Bridge, a Victorian footbridge built to replace the ferry crossing.
July is the perfect month for walks along the riverbanks of the Wye, teeming with wildlife and glorious sunshine (we pray!) and wild swimmers, fishermen and canoeists come flocking in to spend the summer on the river.
It would be wrong to create a calendar celebrating the flora of rural Ledburyshire without mentioning the vegetable so plentiful in this county. An ode to the famers; during the summer months Herefordshire is a rolling bounty of rich scented hops, jewel-like berries and cherries, cider apples starting to swell and fields upon fields of swaying, purple potato flower.
As I fold back the page of May in my Tinsmiths Calendar, I am greeted with the rich honey-coloured inks of June’s joyful yellow page glowing back at me. My mind wanders back to a visit to Hartpury Church and Bee Shelter last year and its’ rich history enthrals me once again.
The Bee Shelter can be found at St Mary the Virgin Church at Hartpury, Gloucestershire situated at the back of the churchyard. The shelter is highly decorative and is, quite rightly, a listed building.
The shelter was built in the middle of the 19th Century by a local stonemason and made out of Cotswold Stone. It’s initial chapter somewhat hazy, the shelter was rediscovered in 1957 by the International Bee Research Association in the garden of Nailsworth Police Station. Members of the Gloucestershire Beekeeping Association dismantled the shelter and moved it to what are now the grounds of Hartpury Agricultural College. As the college expanded, the site became unsuitable for the protected building and it was considered at risk. Hartpury Heritage Trust stepped in and the Bee Shelter was resituated once more, this time for good, in the churchyard at Hartpury Church. Complete restoration ensued and the building was ‘reopened’ in 2002.
In its day the shelter could house at least 28 working skeps and would have been home to some 840,000 bees.
The use of wicker or straw skeps to keep Bees dates back to Anglo Saxon times and was only pushed out when the introduction of wooden bee hives came about in the 1850’s.
In this year’s ‘ Ledburyshire’ Calendar Anneliese Appleby has depicted the shelter and skeps with the church so wonderfully. The page of June comes alive in rich yellows, with honeybees busying themselves amongst the Ox-Eye Daisies.
Hartpury Bee Shelter is one of Gloucestershire’s hidden gems and really is worth a visit, especially in the warmer summer months when the trees are lush and full. There are fantastic footpaths around Hartpury which incorporate St Mary’s Church; a classic route is the Hartpury Circular Walk of about 6.5km and can be started at the church. Variations of this route can incorporate the Tithe Barn and Hartpury Mill and can lead you on to the track bed of the old Gloucester to Ledbury Railway.
Rehanging my calendar, I am uplifted at the thought of balmy June evenings spent in the cool meadow grass of my Dad’s garden with the hum of bees and insects around me.
Each morning as I unfurl into the day I am assisted by a large cup of tea in a handthrown mug made by Devon-based potter, Russell Kingston. Those first few sips always make me pause, my fingers tracing the wheel thrown grooves and slip-trailed ridges, their familiarity from years of use bring warm comfort and encourage me to savour the moment before the rest of the day rushes in.
For me, tea not only tastes better in this mug but its clever design works perfectly with my daily routine. Russell has made the mug broad at the base and smaller at the rim which means the tea cools slowly allowing me to continue with my morning preparations knowing that my drink will still be warm when I return to it.
So why am I telling you this? Be it a humble piece of hot, buttered toast or an Ottolenghi masterpiece, many would agree that the experience of eating and drinking is made all the better when using a handmade piece of pottery to cook or present it. It raises these everyday activities into something special, to take time over. To relish.
It is no secret that Tinsmiths’ passion is for well-designed, functional objects with longevity; both practical and beautifully made which you will want to cherish and use for years to come. This philosophy extends to Tinsmiths’ handpicked collection of tableware made by a selection of the best contemporary potters in practice today. Using a combination of traditional making techniques and their own tried and tested formulas, all of the potters behind the tableware collections design and make with functionality in mind. These are pieces which they use in their own homes. Pieces which transition from the kitchen to the dining table with aplomb.
Herefordshire potter, Patia Davis has a distinctive approach to glazing using high-fired ash and feldspathic glazes. For making her flatware dishes and plates, Patia alters her clay recipe, adding a fine sand and grog combination to the mix. This acts as an ‘opener’ within the clay body allowing for good thermal expansion in the finished pots which makes them ideal cookware. Robust enough for baking a pie in but also so handsome for presenting direct to the dining table.
As a keen cook, Russell Kingston’s ethos is that his pots are suitable to be used and enjoyed in everyday life, celebrating the food which is served upon them. With this aim the forms he creates are simple and robust made using a combination of wheel and slab build techniques; dish rims are rolled for strength, handles are pulled from the pot as if they had grown there.
Based in Cardiff, ceramicist Jack Welbourne treats his morning coffee with reverence and has designed his cups, made from Cornish clay and pot ash to honour this.
“I enjoy discovering new coffee roasters and grind the beans myself, trying to find the more delicate and regional flavours that light-roasted, high quality coffee can offer. The open bowl shape of my hand-thrown coffee cup, cools the coffee to the point where all the flavours are at their fullest in about the time it takes me to finish my porridge.”.
For those who enjoy herbal teas and tissanes, Jack’s cups are also well suited to cooling the brew to drinking temp’ perfection.
There may be some who are a little apprehensive about incorporating handmade tableware into daily life, however, like all good friendships, care and respect are important and your pottery will thank you for it. By following a few simple rules your ceramic pieces should offer steady companionship for years to come.
Pottery dishes and vessels are superb for retaining heat or keeping food chilled – they will certainly earn their keep on these points. However, it’s important not to expose your tableware to sudden temperature extremes which can cause thermal shock, for example taking a dish straight from the oven and plunging into cold water, or by taking a frozen meal straight from the freezer into a blazing oven. These extreme actions may result in your dish cracking or breaking. It is best to allow the dish to cool or warm up accordingly before any next steps are taken.
Although superb at coping with surrounding heat, handmade tableware is not generally suited to being used with a naked flame so they are not compatible with being used directly on the stove top.
These handmade pieces will cope in the microwave and with occasional dishwasher use but taking the care to handwash your tableware is always recommended to keep the item in prime condition.
By keeping these points in mind your tableware should offer many years of good and faithful service. As my favourite mug will testify.
It can often feel like time is always rushing forwards and we are constantly changing, adapting our ways and having to compromise. 2020 has given us all a little time and space to reflect, take a closer look at and appreciate our immediate surroundings. Looking to next year, we have finally put together the calendar for 2021 – very much a celebration of the home of Tinsmiths and all that Ledburyshire has to offer. Working very closely as always with Martin Clark of Tilley Printing and Anneliese Appleby, who has in recent years become the calendar’s innovator. This year’s theme takes us on a journey to some of the fascinating and timeless buildings of Ledbury and Herefordshire, illustrated with seasonal and local flora relevant to each month. Something that is very important to Tinsmiths, Anneliese and to Martin is our connection with nature and the processes of slow crafts which have been captured beautifully throughout the calendar.
View from Frith Wood of Ledbury Viaduct, constructed of 5 million bricks and built in 1806.
Tilley Printing, Ledbury. The working domain of the infamous Martin Clarke…absolutely worth a visit!
Anneliese has, in her signature style, transformed these special buildings into beautiful linocuts. Carefully sketching, rubbing out, moving the page and layering her tracing paper to create delightful yet accurate illustrations of the locations we have chosen; giving time for her ideas to evolve naturally as if fermenting! Putting her own twist and mark on each drawing with hidden creatures and plants that represent each passing month. The chosen plants hold relevance to their month and or location; February’s building is Stoke Edith House which was destroyed by fire in 1927. The house holds much history and intrigue despite its absence and has been paired in our calendar with the elusive Ghost Orchid, the rarest of all UK orchids, which was last spotted flowering in a secret Herefordshire location in 2010.
The linocut of Poppies for Remembrance layered over the Alms Houses in Ledbury.
Mid-19th Century Bee Shelter at Hartpury Church, Gloucestershire made from local Cotswold Stone. The shelter was built to provide protection for the straw skeps used up to the 1930s and is one of the few Bee Shelters that remain from its’ day.
Working with tracing paper allows Anneliese to move and layer with type to perfect her early sketches.
It goes without saying that the part of the process in which colour is introduced is paramount when printing. Anneliese and Martin very much played during this part, looking for colours which represent each months’ place in its season, blending and mixing to realise their visions.
Colour mixing before going on the press.
The Heidelberg Press in her 40th working year…performing tirelessly.
There are of course a number of fascinating and unique buildings within Ledbury itself; the 16th Century Painted Room, Ledbury Church at the end of a magical cobbled street and the timeless Market House in the heart of town. Although many of these feature in this year’s Calendar, we also chose to go further afield into the skirts of our lovely ‘Ledburyshire’.
St Catherine’s Church, Hoarwithy.
St Catherine’s Church, Hoarwithy. A real gem of rural Herefordshire.
Take time next year to let your wanderlust lead you to new and familiar places and explore what nature and history has to offer, wherever you are. We shall be dipping into our calendar at times throughout next year to further explore some of our favourite places, so do keep an eye out for our future blog posts.
Donations from the proceeds of Tinsmiths Calendar 2021 will be made to the following charities:
In the second of our posts written by Anneliese Appleby to accompany the forage themed Tinsmiths2020 calendar, we have a recipe which puts rhubarb centre stage.
Other hedgerow forage found this month: Nettle, Chickweed, Common Sorrel, Crow Garlic, Dandelion root, Hairy Bittercress, Wood Sorrel
1kg Rhubarb – use only the newest bright pink tender stems
400g White Caster Sugar – don’t use golden/brown or you’ll lose the beautiful pink from the Rhubarb!
Wash the rhubarb, trim and discard the leaves at the base.
Cut into lengths of approx 1” (2cm). Place into a large clip top jar (or a bottle) and sprinkle over the sugar, close and then gently shake the jar to coat all the rhubarb in sugar. Leave to stand overnight. Next day, add the gin.
Give it a good shake and leave to stand for 4 weeks.
After 4 weeks you can strain off the fruit and bottle the gin or serve it straight from the jar adding pieces of rhubarb to the cocktail. Alternatively strain off all the fruit and use it to make a lovely boozy pudding such as trifle, crumble or fruit fool.
This recipe can also be used for many other Summer and Autumn fruits including damsons, sloes, raspberries and blackberries. It’s also possible to replace the gin with vodka (if you’re not a fan of gin) to make an equally delicious flavoured spirit.
When using dark berries, such as damsons and blackberries, try adding half a teaspoon of real vanilla extract to the full bottle to give a subtle depth to the flavour. If you’re using damsons or sloes you will need to pierce the skin to release the flavour – this can be done by hand with a cocktail stick or by putting the fruit in the freezer overnight, before starting the recipe, to burst the skins.
In this, the first of a series of posts written by Anneliese Appleby to accompany the forage themed Tinsmiths2020 calendar, attention is turned to the nutrient-packed watercress plant.
Other hedgerow forage found this month: Cowberry, Chickweed, Common Sorrell, Crow Garlic, Hairy Bittercress, Wood Sorrell, Winter Cress, Wild Cabbage
January is a month where foraged food is less abundant which is why watercress has been chosen as this month’s subject.
In Victorian times watercress was often known as Poor Man’s Bread, as impoverished labourers would have access to watercress even if they couldn’t afford bread or, where meat wasn’t available, watercress was often used to fill sandwiches. Watercress is packed with nutrients, it is rich in vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and is a source of foliate, calcium, iron and vitamin E. It also contains useful amounts of vitamin K, thiamin, vitamin B6, potasium and Iodine. Watercress, along with nettles, really is an amazing secret foraged superfood!
Please note, only harvest wild watercress from watercourses that you know to be clean, unpolluted and away from livestock. Watercress can be a source of Liver Fluke, a group of harmful parasitic trematodes.
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Butter
1 Onion, chopped finely
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp Nigella Seeds
1 small stick of Celery, chopped finely
250g Watercress, washed
1 pint Vegetable or Chicken Stock
Salt + Pepper, to taste
½ pt Double Cream to garnish
Heat the Oil and Butter in a large saucepan. Add the Garlic, Onion, Nigella Seeds and Celery
and saute gently for 5-10 minutes until the onion becomes clear but not browning.
Add the Watercress, stir to coat in the buttery oil and onion, cover with a lid and wilt for 7-8
minutes, turning over the leaves with a spatula occasionally.
Add the stock. Bring gently to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
Whizz in the pan with a handheld liquidiser.
Season to taste
Serve piping hot with a generous swirl of Double Cream
On the side try a crusty loaf of bread, lashings of butter and a lump of a fine French Cheese. Enjoy.