We love an interesting place name and in the past we have stayed near Blo’ Norton (Suffolk) but near us here in Ware, Hertfordshire we saw Cold Christmas on the map. Sounded too intriguing to miss and is only a mile or so over the fields so what were we waiting for. We set off to discover the Legend of Cold Christmas. Sounded dramatic.
The Legend of Cold Christmas
It is a little difficult to get to the bottom of whether or not there is actually a village called Cold Christmas. There is a village called Thundridge which has a road called Cold Christmas Lane. From there you have a bit of a hike over the fields, which all adds to the suspense, to the remains of St Mary’s and All Saints Church.
Some intrepid folk actually visit at night. Crazy fools. What is left of the church, the stone tower, is listed but has the label of supposedly being the most haunted church in England. (Probably along with about 20 others.) It was built on a private estate in 1086 and was demolished in 1853, possible because it is built on the wrong alignment (North to South) and believed to be a sign of the devil.
Now we get to the bit where lines get blurred between fact and fiction. It is believed that a lot of the graves in the abandoned graveyard belong mainly to young children. The story goes that the village was hit by a very cold winter which took the lives of many children around Christmas time. Hence the name Cold Christmas Church, a name which the village also adopted. From what we can see Cold Christmas is just an area of the large village Thundridge.
What is true, however, is that it the grounds have been used by witches and devil worshippers and there have been many tales of paranormal activity around the tower. Among them is that back in 1978 a lady walking through the grounds of the church was reported to come face to face with a marching army who passed straight through her. Whatever is, or isn’t going on, we just like the name and what a lovely address to have.
We did hear from a lady that lives nearby that there is a hamlet called Cold Christmas about a mile and a bit down the lane which includes a farm house, several converted barns, and a selection of cottages.
Apart from all the excitement of a haunted church, life has been ticking along in a fairly normal house sitting routine for us. Today, for example, has been
1) Walk the dog. We had a lovely 2/3 mile walk out across the bridleway. Well, we were on the bridleway but Saffie got a sniff of something interesting in the crops and the extending lead just didn’t extend quite enough.
2) Tackle the extensive lawns. It needed mowing and borders neatened up.
3) An hour or two on the sun loungers. This only seems right as there is sun! Jon with book and me with knitting and both casting the odd glance over all our hard work.
4) Duck Watch. After dinner we set two on the watering regime and then got to the pond for a bit of observation of which ducks have fallen out, where the ducklings are, followed by panicking if we can’t see all four and always the big question has the pheasant, Pongo, gobbled up all the food.
In his inimitable way Jon has named most of the ducks. To name a few of his favourites, there are Howard and Hilda. They are a couple who keep themselves to themselves and keep out of the general chaos of the central pond area where it can all kick off.
Next favourite is Red-Eye Marine Boy. He is a red crested pochard who just loves to swim along scooping water into his beak in a sort of snorkeling pose. There is a Mrs Marine Boy (called Aqua Marina) who seems to just blank all his nonsense. Now who does that remind me of?
There is another chap, know as Clockwork Duck. He sounds as if he is ticking repetitively and moves as if he has been wound up. The superior-looking upper-class couple who think they own the pond are of course Lord and Lady Duck, plus the Strangely Browns (two very odd unsociable guys) and The Chuckle Brothers and Mr and Mr Miggins and kids (family of Moorhens who hide in the reeds but make a hell of a noise).
Now I am feel guilty that I have hardly mentioned Miami the cat we also take care of. She is a bit strong willed and her owners recommended not approaching her unless she approaches us. She does a few seemingly loving brushes past when we are in the kitchen but that usually means it is nearly dinner time! She is truly what a cat should be. Out all night prowling around for things to catch and sleeping in the huge fireplace behind the Aga during the day. She is a bit tricky to get on camera as she darts around quite a bit so this is best we can do.
Hen and Stag Do – The Countdown
Only about ten days now till the Hen and Stag Do’s for our son Shaun and his intended Katie’s weekend bashes. A lot of planning has gone into each event and it feels good to know that they are only a few days away. Secret locations cannot be divulged but if we can remember anything about them and the photographs do not offend, we will do a post all about both events. I know one thing, it will make the wedding in July seem even closer.
There is the usual frenzy of activity and anxiety over plans coming together for both the Hen and Stag Do’s and the wedding but our view is that their vows and being together is the most important bit and that is a certainty so what else is there to worry about. So even if Jon hasn’t got long trousers or shoes, my hair still looks like I have just rescued Saffie from the hedge and I have lost the art of walking in high heeled shoes it will be a perfect day and we can’t wait to see them tie the knot.
Batchelorette Bash in Bath – Munich Mayhem for Shauns Stag
The Best Plaque Ever
I can’t finish without revealing to you the most interesting plaque I have read in our almost 2 years of JWalking. As always I was drawn in from a distance by the sight of a plaque prominently placed on a small barn. So here it is.
The Legend of Cold Christmas ……………………
18/05 – 22/05/2017
Love the plaque! Xx
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Love it too. Really caught me out. jx
All sounds great and more like you are grounds persons rather than housesitters!! Have you managed to tame Pongo the pheasant yet?? Pedro is still around but not every day, he has a poorly foot so is limping a little and tucks his leg up but hopefully nature will prevail and it’ll sort itself out. Jon has taught him a new trick, he filled a small plastic see through ball with seed and drilled a hole in it….immediately Pedro learnt that he had to either roll it with his foot or beak to get the seed out, amazing!! The last picture is spooky….we went to a pub in Appledore last week with friends and the exact same plaque was outside!!! Enjoy the hen & stag do’s. J&J xx
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We now have two male pheasants…. Pongo and Pingu both of whom chase Perdita. Sorry to hear Pedro is poorly. He could just be faking it to get more seed or it is a football injury from his new seed ball. Jx
Oh, I bet something happened really but they are just shy!
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Don’t start me off. I will now have to research the building to see what happened there on 5th Sept 1572….. Jx
I hope you enjoy the hen and stag dos – I’ve just come back from Daisy’s hen weekend which was lovely. That had been a secret location to her too, and organised by her bridesmaids. It was a villa in Marbella for 14 of us, she has the loveliest friends. Her wedding is on 10th June then 9 of us are going on a ‘familymoon’ to Ibiza on 12th June. Xx
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Wow Daisy nearly married. So pleased for you all. Hope the wedding goes well and I love the “familymoon” idea. Have a great time on 10th and in Ibiza. Jx
All those animals and land it still sounds like hard work but in a relaxing sort of way! Good luck with the Hen/Stag parties. Hope you’re still both up to it. Sadly you can get those plaques on the interweb. I wonder if 5/9/1782 was just the most boring day in history ever.
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A fascinating post guys but I think I’ll probably have to name the ducks in my local pond now. As for the plaque, well that really takes the cake.
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I loved reading about your travels, even if I am 4 years too late! My family are Cold Christmas born & bred and it always makes me chuckle reading the ghostly stories of the Church -To me it’s just a place where family members were married and buried.
As for the name Cold Christmas, my Grandad always told me it came from when the cottages were built and the builders commented that it “was a bl**dy cold christmas!”
…Maybe we’ll never know! But I loved your photos 🙂
Thanks Miranda, it was a while ago. This blog post is actually our most popular and we’ve had hundreds and hundreds of views in the past years. Interesting place though as I’m sure you know.