Thursday, 21 July 2016

A trip to Hatfield for a coincidence

I realised this afternoon whilst walking through the streets of Northampton that I'd forgotten to blog last night. I blame the weather. And Little Michelle for being so engaging!

Last night I went to Hatfield. I'd never been to Hatfield before, but it's where Michelle and Ben have set up home. Their reason for leaving the Big Smoke was purely financial. For the same rent as a nasty little one-bed flat in the grimmest part of London, they can live in a charming 2-up 2-down ancient cottage on a country lane over looking the stunning St Etheldreda's church. King's Cross is a 22-minute train journey away. It's almost a no-brainer. As I parked up on their street I was instantly struck by the silence. The lane they live on is a cul-de-sac, so there are almost no passing cars. According to Michelle, the only noise pollution comes from the bells in the church!

It was really heartening to see that it's possible to live so close to London in a really decent house without paying stupid amounts in rent. One of my biggest fears is our landlord selling up and leaving us high and dry, unable to afford anything even remotely similar.

Anyway, I was in Hatfield filming Michelle singing her allotted lines in the little film we're making for the Pepys Motet. No flinging fire this time, but we did fill her garden with hundreds of candles. I appreciate the vision for the film is to shoot people in London locations but actually, Hatfield, on the Great North Road is almost certainly a place that Pepys would have visited on his way up to his father's house in Huntingdon, so it felt legitimate enough.

A quick check of his diaries reveals something even more exciting. On August 11th, 1667, Pepys visited the very church that Michelle and Ben live opposite:

"So to Hatfield, to the inne, next my Lord Salisbury's House, and there rested ourselves, and drank, and bespoke dinner; and so to church, it being just church-time, and there we find my Lord and my Lady Sands and several fine ladies of the family, and a great many handsome faces and genteel persons more in the church, and did hear a most excellent good sermon, which pleased me mightily... In this church lies the former Lord of Salisbury, Cecil, buried in a noble tomb. So the church being done, we to our inn, and there dined very well, and mighty merry; and as soon as we had dined we walked out into the Park through the fine walk of trees, and to the Vineyard, and there shewed them that, which is in good order, and indeed a place of great delight; which, together with our fine walk through the Park, was of as much pleasure as could be desired in the world for country pleasure and good ayre. Being come back, and weary with the walk, for as I made it, it was pretty long, being come back to our inne, there the women had pleasure in putting on some straw hats, which are much worn in this country, and did become them mightily, but especially my wife."

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