Newton St Loe is a picture-perfect village just outside of Bath. It’s been there since at least Saxon times. The village and the church, the Church Of The Holy Trinity, are listed in the Domesday Book, so that’s a thousand years of history. Since 1941, it’s been owned and maintained by the Duchy Of Cornwall – that’s the HRH The Prince of Wales – yeah I know, a Welsh Prince and Cornish Duke owning a Somerset village – that’s England for you.
Anyway, it’s a great place to go for a walk on a sunny Sunday and last Sunday fit that bill. It’s the first time that we’ve been there since lockdown was eased and it felt great to be almost back to normal.
We started at the church. It was the first Sunday of May so, even though services were being held virtually, a cross had been dressed to celebrate Spring.
I like this church, not just because it’s old but because it sits well in the landscape. If you come in from the main entrance it looks fairly modest.
As you move around the church, the land falls away and you realise that you’re on a hill with one of the farmhouses below you.
Then you look back and the church doesn’t seem so modest any more.
To me, it seemed that I was looking at an anchor point, a place of safety, a sign of power, that had defined this village for centuries.
It looks even more dramatic when you look up at it along the path folks from the farms would have taken on a Sunday.
We headed away from the village into the grounds of Newton Park, laid out by Capability Brown in the eighteenth-century. which contains Newton St Loe Castle which is a fourteenth-century Keep with a fifteenth-century gatehouse but always seems to me to be the kind of place Harry Potter might have had his Divination lessons.
Newton Park is now the campus of the Bath Spa University which has its admin offices in the Newton Park mansion. This building was used as a hospital for Australian and New Zealand troops in World War I.
Behind the mansion lies a landscaped lake and some woodland walks that we like to stroll through.
The fields around the Park belong to working farms and at this time of year, they were filled with sheep with young lambs and cows with calves that seemed impossibly small.
Then we went back to the village itself, with its thatched cottages that look so well maintained they appear new.
One of the things I love about living in Bath is having villages like this a few miles away, yet, for the past year or so most of this was out of bounds because of lockdown. It was a relief to spend a sunny Sunday in the country and to feel that things are starting to become available again.
Of course, since then we’ve had low temperatures, high winds and the occasional hail storm but that’s just May in England.