Monday, September 5, 2011

Compton Wynyates, Warwickshire

A Spaniard in the works

I recently spent a day bumbling around Warwickshire wondering if I could see the wonderful country house at Compton Wynyates from the public roads or public footpaths that surround it. Years ago this house was open to the public and I remember being enchanted by its forest of raspberry brick Tudor chimneys, Gothic windows, and gables. I seem to remember that the house could be seen from the nearby road, but its owners, who no longer open their home, now guard their privacy with trees, putting a spanner in my works.

So I had to be content, for now at least, with some interesting neighbouring structures, such as Compton Pike. My first sight of this curious landscape feature was a glimpse of the very top just beyond the crest of a hill. Walking along the edge of the field reveals an elongated pyramid of local ironstone, topped with a ball finial.

Compton Pike was probably put up in the 16th century as a signalling beacon – an iron hook protruded from the finial, and this supported a flaming lantern. It may have been used in 1588 as part of the chain of beacons that warned of the arrival of the Spanish Armada. It has remained ever since as a landmark and an obstacle to farm workers with combine harvesters, one of whom was about to negotiate it when I took this picture before bumbling on with my search.


George said...

In John Lukacs's Confessions of an Original Sinner, in chapter 7, Writing, has the short paragraph

"And to me Compton Wynyates sounds and spells more elegant than Choisy-le-Roi..."

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you George. I like the quotation, though I did wonder if it should say 'sounds and smells'!

More Warwickshire bumblings soon.

George said...

It does look that way, but in a chapter on writing, I'm inclined to go with "spells".

Philip Wilkinson said...

George: 'Spells' it is then.

By the way, as I walked around the Compton Wynyates neck of the woods the local smells were dominated by the ongoing harvest and the large cow population: thoroughly rural, as one would expect.