Friday, 8 February 2008
Farley Mount, Hampshire
Many thanks to Rex's Pictures Free for this FABULOUS photo of Farley Mount. I love the lines of it - stunning in black and white too.
I have vivid memories of riding here when I was about twelve, with my friend John. I was on one of his ponies, Tammy. We rode side by side up the track to it, the wind rippling the jade green heads of corn so that they undulated like packs of hunting stoats. The larks were singing overhead and swallows swooped for insects. The Hampshire landscape spread before us: a jigsaw of fields, hedgerows and woodland, shimmering in the heathaze of a hot June day.
As you can see, the monument is white, and like a small pyramid. It is high on the ridge of chalk downland and beneath it is apparently a Bronze Age barrow. It was built in memory of an extraordinary horse:
"Underneath lies buried a horse, the property of Paulet St John Esq, that in the month of September 1733 leaped into a chalk pit 25 feet deep afoxhunting with his master on his back and in October 1734, he won the Hunters Plate on Worthy Downs and was rode by his owner and was entered in the name of "Beware Chalk Pit."
The area is now a Country Park which to my mind has just spoilt it completely as I remember the solitude of the place. Here is a link to the church where many of the St John family are buried. I include it as it is so well done and you almost feel as if you have just visited the church.
There is a Paulet's Lane near Testwood, where we used to go riding as children. I don't know the connection but would guess the family owned land in this area. Just been to check, and there is an Obituary for Sir Henry Charles Paulet, Bart, at Little Testwood, Southampton in the Illustrated London News, 1st. Jan, 1887. Checking further back the Paulet family held lands in this area for hundreds of years prior to this. Probably the Paulets and St Johns were also intermarried. You know - I could waste hours and hours looking up things like this. As I know this area quite well from my childhood, it is even more fascinating to read its history - though much of it is now one huge sprawling housing estate.
And if you want a ghost story, I shall spare you the really scary one I've just read, and leave you with this link instead: