2005: I still haven't updated the text on this page since we first arrived - I'll get to it eventually!
We eventually found a house to rent in the village of Barton Mills. Barton Mills is just south of Mildenhall, a stone's throw across the River Lark, and has been occupied for an inordinate amount of time.......it appears in the Domesday Book (1086) as a fully-fledged village, and likely has been around for longer. For those of you not familiar with the Domesday Book, it is sort of England's first census, ordered by William the Conquerer after he, well, conquered England!
For more on Barton Mills, try here: http://bartonmills.22plus3.co.uk/index.htm
Here's a map. This shows you just how close we are to Mildenhall (in the upper part of the map). Basically the dividing line is the river - north is Mildenhall, south is Barton Mills, with Worlington not far off to the left. If you see the little church icon in Barton Mills, you'll notice a bit of a loop-road heading towards the river.....that's our street :) (Each blue square is 1km2)
Quite a few photos are to follow. For the sake of consistency, if I want to comment on them I'll type a caption UNDER the picture in question :)
The above two pictures are of 'our' church here in Barton Mills. It's at the end of our street, and has a clock chime that we can hear if the wind is right. We haven't been in to poke around yet, but have already been invited to attend services by a nice lady who works in the Mildenhall Museum! She lives in The Street, which is the main road in Barton Mills. Apparently the church has been there since Norman times, with bits added on now and again. If I find out more of the history, I'll let you know! No doubt we'll eventually have a few pictures of the churchyard and interior, too, once we can find a time to go there without someone trying to talk religion ;)
Another church - this time the Barton Mills Baptist Church, which is a couple of hundred yards down The Street (on the map as a small cross to the right of the main church) . Despite the rather derelict appearance in this photo, the church is apparently still in use. (There's a noticeboard out of shot which has details of services). Built in 1844.
The Street in Barton Mills. If you see the road going off to the right there, that's our's. What I've done here is walk up out of our road, turn left, walk along a bit, stop, looked back, and taken this photo. Now in the NEXT photo, I stayed on the spot but took a picture looking the other way. Gives you an idea of our "main road"!
The "Middlefield Manor" that you see the sign for here is a large country house, set back off the road, that is down a long driveway. This brings it to the point where it is over our back hedge. Middlefield Manor is now a centre for autistic children and young adults, which makes for a lot of VERY strange noises as people yell, scream etc. It's not disruptive, but if you're out the back and someone bellows it can give you a start!
The street you can see that turns off to the right just after the tree is home to "the Bell", one of Barton Mills' two pubs. Just after the turn to the right, you may be able to make out an oval-shaped sign stuck on the white building (just near the maroon car). That is our post office.
A little bit further along The Street is "Lord Mayor's Cottage". Hopefully you can tell from the picture that it is a thatched cottage (there are a few around in the village). This one is particularly interesting, though, as it dates from the 1400s. The Lord Mayor in question was actually Henry de Barton, who was Lord Mayor of London - twice! (Once in 1416 and once in 1430) It was hard to get a good picture of it, but as you walk past you can see through gaps etc to get a better view of the old wood-reinforced walls, the rather wonky quality of the windows, roof etc. There is a better picture of it on the Barton Mills page, which I linked to earlier on this page.
This is more of The Street, I've just walked further along it. I liked all the window boxes for the house on the right! It looks like the Street ends up ahead at another white house (Mill Cottage), but it actually takes an abrupt turn to the right. You can see this above on the Barton Mills map where it is marked "Inn".
And here is the Inn in question, the Olde Bull Inn. I've walked around the corner and am now looking back at this part of it, you can see The Street poking out there at the end between the Bull and that white building.
Here is another part of the Olde Bull, as it is more of a series of buildings rather than one discrete building. This one is next to the cream one shown earlier, only around a bit further.
I've walked back the way I've come a bit now, and the Olde Bull is to my left, out of picture. The white place is Mill Cottage, which appeared earlier as being at the end of the straight part of The Street. The orange-ish building to the right has the date 1668 etched into it.
I know this doesn't show up too well, partly due to the size and partly due to the fact it's covered in plastic. But it is one of a series of signs around the village that tell a bit of the history of the place. It's just near the orange-ish building in the last picture. You can see from the map on the board where I am now from the "you are here" red oval!! What I did next was walk a little further north, to where you see the river intersect the red road (about at the number 5 on the map if you make that out). This joined me up with the River Walk on the Mildenhall side of the Lark.
Between leaving the sign and reaching the river, the road bridges over this pond as well as the river itself. I believe this is the remnants of the old Mill Pond, as it almost joins up with the river, and looks like it would have not too long ago.
Then down and on to the River Walk. Although there aren't any in this picture, there were quite a few people fishing along the way. That section of the path is maintained by the local Angler's Association, and they have built some little wooden platforms on the river bank to make fishing more comfortable as well as preserving the bank. They blend in well. Off to the left of the path, the land quickly turns into a marshy bit of fen. So basically you don't want to stray off the path more than 2m to either side or you'll end up wet!
At this point I'm now almost parallel to The Street, heading back in the opposite direction I originally went and on the other side of the river. As you can see from the above picture, those little cottages right on the road can have some rather extensive backyards!! Some were quite landscaped, but this one was just an expanse of perfect neat lawn. Just right for croquet I suppose! There are no bridges between the Mill and about a mile further down (near the main part of Mildenhall) so these people remain rather unmolested.
After I tooled along for a mile or so, I was towards the west end of Barton Mills, and the main part of Mildenhall (you can see the general area on the map earlier - this photo is taken near where the 'P' is in Mildenhall, just near 'Inn' and 'Mus' where the river branches.)
More swans. Ugh. As you can see, a bridge appeared! I crossed it, wandered through a spit of land, over the twin bridge to this one, and was back on the Barton Mills side. At the point where that occurred, there was a bit of pasture rather than houses.
So I saw some cows ;) I'm heading up to Barton Mills, which is on the right of this photo. The river I've just walked along is that line of trees you see along the back of the paddock, although I'd been walking along the opposite bank.
On the other side of the path from the cows were a couple of heavy horse broodmares. On the orange-coloured dirt hill you might just be able to make out their foals playing with each other! They seem to live a nice life, as a couple of times I have seen a HUGE pile of carrots in this field. So many carrots, in fact, that the horses seem to take a few days to get through them.
And back up to The Street in BM. I'm now heading back towards the church. This is the village green, which is the large blank bit on the map just where the word "Mills" ends. It had several of these nice flower beds, which were made of old stone. Possibly old horse troughs, or if not, that's the effect they were going for! Very nice.