Curious Cotswolds - The Lady Rat Catcher
With the many villages & market towns throughout the Cotswolds Region, one thing you can almost guarantee to spot throughout your Cotswolds tour is a beautiful Church. Our favourite would have to be St Michaels in Stanton. St Michaels, like many villages Churches is tucked away. This is one of the oldest Churches we see on our tours & is packed with fabulous features, medieval wall paints, fabulous stained glass, a cheeky 'green man', along with shepherd pews. Internally it is not instantly beautiful, what is so impressive is the obvious layers of history, & the appreciation of each generation of their predecessors. This is what makes this church so special. In other villages like Snowshill, St Barnabas's Church is located right in the village centre, at the heart of the community. What our Cotswolds tour guests, often remark upon is the graves, some 'table tombs' great examples of these can be seen in Stow on the Wold. The headstones as well, give us a glimpse into the past, sometimes we are amazed at how long people have lived for, one local resident mentioned to me that there is a headstone in the Northern Cotswolds, that claims the local shepherd lived to see his 117th birthday! Other headstones reveal a residents previous occupation. We often celebrate our Cotswolds Wool Churches, St James Church is a favourite on our Cotswolds Highlights Tour, but lets take a moment to remember some of the people who have lived in the Cotswolds in years gone by....
This is perhaps on of my favourites...….
Located in the churchyard of Chipping Norton is a stone in the memory of Phillis Humphreys, who died in 1763 (aged 58 years) her headstone is inscribed:
'Rat Catcher who has lodged in many a Town and Travelled far & near, By Age & death she is struck down to her last lodging here'
Other epitaphs, which seem to have a poignant inscription can be found in the tiny South Cotswolds village of Duntisbourne, In memory of William, son of William & Sarah Beames, who died in 1799.....
'A warning piece to all young men
Who in their blooming age
Mispend their time and know not when
They must go off the stage'
Lastly in memory of a Blacksmith in Brize Norton,
'My fledge & hammer lie declined,
My bellows too have lost their wind,
My fires extinct my coal decayed,
And in the dirt my vice is laid,
My days are spent, my g... is nun
My nails drove, my work done
So from the everyday people, who have shaped this beautiful region in years gone by, the Rat Catchers, Shepherds & Blacksmiths, we are ever grateful for your part in our fabulous history.