The Churches of the Cotswolds

by Debby Jagerman-Dungan
( July 7th, 2014 )

We thank Thee for the scent and color in the flower beds and for all fruits and vegetables…” From “The Cotswold Prayer of Praise”

St Lawrence Church Bourton on the Hill Cotswolds England

Church of St Barnabus Snowshill Cotswolds England

As I sat inside each church, quiet and saying a little prayer of thanks for safety during our travels, my husband wandered around the outside, quiet and contemplating. In no less than 39 churches, during our 12 days of walking in the Cotswolds in England, this was our ritual.

St Oswald's Church Widford Cotswolds England

St James Church Cutsdean Cotswolds England

I truly enjoyed wandering around the interior of these churches, looking at the architecture, art, stained glass, and religious relics. Taking pictures of the altars, seats, kneelers, windows, and arches. Many of these churches have stood the test of time. Or at least parts of them have. Some were built around a thousand years ago; some in the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th centuries. Many were built during the prosperous years of the wool trade in the Cotswolds, thus are known as “wool churches.” While some churches have had restorations done over the years, it nonetheless amazes me that a building could last that long.

St Mary's Church Painswick Cotswolds England

Saint Michaels Church Buckland Cotswolds England

My husband was interested in the tomb stones. These have survived hundreds of years, many of them still legible from the 1700’s and 1800’s. Seems like he may have read every single one of them, as we spent at least an hour at most of these 39 churches. Of course, he would eventually wander inside, and I would join him outside.

St Mary's Church Temple Guiting Cotswolds England

Church of St Michael and All Angels Stanton Cotswolds England

St Andrews Church Naunton Cotswolds England

Many times as we walked up to a church, the bells would chime what time it was, or ring a song of some sort. An hour later, because we were still there, we would hear them again. I love the sound of church bells.

Holy Trinity Church Slad Cotswolds England

All Saints' Church Bisley Cotswolds England

Many of the churches in the Cotswolds contain plaques remembering the names of loved ones lost in various wars, especially World War I and World War II. However, some churches had plaques embracing the names of those that came home to the small villages that housed these churches, celebrating those that survived the wars.

St James the Great Church Cranham Cotswolds England

St Giles Church Uley Cotswolds England

St Michael's Church Duntisbourne Rous Cotswolds England

As I sat inside a church, I often wondered just how many people over the centuries have been baptized, married, or mourned in these churches. How many people have attended services, and prayed in these churches. How many have visited these churches briefly, like me and my husband, appreciating each and every one of them. And I wonder how many more centuries the churches of the Cotswolds will continue to survive.

St Faith's Church Farmcote Cotswolds England

Sweet Travels!

Footpath Holidays organized our 12 day walking journey in the Cotswolds, and provided a small discount on our total fees. All opinions in this blog are my own.

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A Thunderstorm, an Island, a Porch, and a Photography Book about The Porches of Île d’Orléans

by Debby Jagerman-Dungan
( June 26th, 2014 )

I fell in love with the homes of Île d’Orléans, with their grand architecture. Not knowing much of the history of the island yet, I remember feeling like I was swept back in time, to an era of centuries ago. To an era of people savoring the outdoors and food of their island. To a place where the home was for family and friends visiting, sitting, talking, laughing, eating. All outdoors on a grand, inviting, hospitable porch.  – Debby Lee Jagerman-Dungan

The Porches of Ile d'Orleans Book

It was a dark and stormy afternoon. Which was odd, because the rest of the day, and most of the previous two days, it had been sunny and quite warm. At first it started to rain lightly. I took my rain jacket out of my backpack to cover myself, put a pack cover over my backpack, and continued on with my walking. I had just left the Les Fromages de l’Îsle d’Orléans, tasting several delicious types of locally made cheese, along with some grapes and crackers, which made a delicious snack. A few moments later, it began to rain harder. I took shelter under a tree to put on my rain pants, and to protect my camera and cell phone. I then set out for the last few miles of my 10 miles of walking for the day.

Sneaking in a few pictures in between the rain drops of a roadside cross, one of several scattered throughout the island, the rain began to pour harder, coming down in buckets. Hiding my camera once again, I saw an open barn of a farm and took shelter, along with two bicyclists. All of us hoping that the rain would lighten up. We waited. And waited. And waited.

I knew I didn’t have much further to go on my walk that day, and since I was walking the entire 42-mile Chemin Royal, the road that encircles Île d’Orléans, an island near Quebec City, Canada, I didn’t want to miss a single step. So I decided to stick it out, and kept on walking. Even with the rain that felt like I was now under a waterfall.

Porches of Ile d'Orleans

And then it began. The thunder. And lightning. Ok, I thought, not much further now. I can handle this. I persisted on until I saw one of the dozens of food specialty shops on the island. For some relief from the rain, I took shelter in La Halte des Anges, a shop that sells pies, jams, and jellies prepared from fresh local strawberries. This reminded me of all the fresh fruits and vegetables grown on the island that I had been experiencing during my days walking, available to purchase at roadside stands, pick-your-own, or created into so many delectable products. La Halte des Anges also sold lavender products also made on the island. I could smell the aroma, just as I had smelled earlier that day, as I had walked amongst a 10-acre garden of lavender, with 75,000 lavender plants at Seigneurie de l’île d’Orléans. Ironic that the loose translation of the name La Halte des Anges is “The Stopping Place of Angels.” Just what I needed, some guardian angels watching over me as the rain, thunder, and lightning would not let up.

Porches of Ile d'Orleans

It was getting to be near 5:00 now, and the shop was closing. So once again, I trudged on. Not wanting to miss a single step. But the thunder and lightning struck again. And again. And again. I began counting the seconds in between, remembering from my childhood that the fewer the seconds in between, the closer the storm. Three seconds. Two seconds. One second! Too close for comfort. Now what do I do? Although I knew I was close to my destination for the evening, I really didn’t exactly know how much further. A mile? A half a mile? I stuck my thumb out hoping to hitch a ride. No luck.

Then I saw a home. A home with a porch. A porch similar to the ones that I had been photographing dozens, no hundreds, of times during my walk around Île d’Orléans. A grand, inviting, hospitable porch, like the ones I just published in my book, “The Porches of Île d’Orléans: Seeing the Island through its Windows and Doors while Walking Chemin Royal.” (Available on Amazon.) Part of my journey around the island, aside from visiting as many of its forty food specialty shops and restaurants, bakeries, wineries, chocolateries, and twenty arts and crafts boutiques and galleries as I could, was also taking photographs of windows and doors, my favorite subject when I travel. This island has a 350-year old New France history, culture, religion, and architecture. With many homes built in the 19th, 18th, even 17th centuries, based on this New France architectural style, and some in a Québécois style, they included porches.

Porches of Ile d'Orleans

But this porch was a bit different. It was shelter, once again. I ran under it, dripping, no sopping wet. Not really minding that I myself was wet, but more trying to protect my camera and cell phone, even with it being protected already. I sat on a chair that was under the porch. I began to dream of the locally made double chocolate and hazelnut-chocolate ice creams I had earlier in the day at the Chocolaterie de l’Île d’Orléans.

Trying to figure out what to do next, in between the loud thunder, trying to think, decide. I could no longer see the fields and crops of the farmland landscape of the island. I could no longer see the mountains of Québec Province in the background, or the waters of the Saint Lawrence River surrounding the island. Île d’Orléans is an island where there are no fences between the homes and farms, where people leave their clothes hanging out on lines to dry in the fresh air. It is an island with 600 historic buildings and monuments, including parish churches and chapels. I had to breathe.

Porches of Ile d'Orleans

I decided to call the bed and breakfast that I was staying at that night, to see if they could come pick me up. I dialed, she answered. But the sound of the thunder was too loud. She could not hear me. The connection was bad. I hung up and tried again. Nope, same thing. She could not understand my need for a ride. I sat hoping the rain, and thunder, and lightning would stop.

Nope. No such luck. The thunder. The lightning. Right there. I have never been caught in a storm such as this, even in all my walking travels. Even in all my hiking and backpacking trips in the mountains.

Porches of Ile d'Orleans

Finally, noticing the garage and the car next to the porch that I was taking shelter under, I thought, aha! Perhaps the people who live in this home could take me to where I wanted to go. I knocked. On the door. A man answered. And his wife in the background. Yes! I thought. But alas, as I rattled my story to them in English, dripping wet…I’m-walking-the-island-I-have-no-bicycle-no-car-it-is-raining-no-it-is-pouring-it-is-thundering-and-lightning-and-I-am-hoping-you-could-please-give-me-a-ride-to-my-bed-and-breakfast…they looked at me like I was crazy. Well, not that I was crazy, but they just didn’t understand. They only spoke French.

Porches of Ile d'Orleans

So I began to use my best sign language, a language hopefully that we shared in common. As the thunder and lightening struck, and startled us all, I gestured out and pointed to the rain. They knew that. I pointed to my dripping self. They saw that. I used my index and middle finger, pointing downwards, moving side by side, to indicate walking. They seemed to get that. I pointed to their car, and used my arms and fists rotating to symbolize driving. They got that! And I pointed to the name of the bed and breakfast on my itinerary. Yes, he understood! I was rescued from the storm!

The kind gentleman went to get his keys and his rain jacket, and drove me, what turned out to be no more than a half mile to my bed and breakfast. I thanked him as best I could. Merci beaucoup! Merci beaucoup! Merci beaucoup! A thousand times.

Porches of Ile d'Orleans

The next morning, the woman at the bed and breakfast kindly drove me back to that home with the grand, inviting, hospitable porch that I took shelter under, so that I could begin my walk from where I left off, in the warm sun, on my final day of walking around the 42-mile road encircling Île d’Orléans. So as not to miss a single step, so that I could resume exploring all that this island has to offer, and so that I could continue taking pictures of the grand, inviting, hospitable porches.

Sweet Travels!

The Porches of Île d’Orléans: Seeing the Island through its Windows and Doors while Walking Chemin Royal” is my travel photography book that contains over 100 pictures of the windows, doors, and porches of the island. I even found a website that told me the year of construction of many of the homes, and I have included these years in the book. For example, homes that were built in 1920, 1900, 1890, 1865, 1777, 1700, and earlier. The book is in both English and French. Available on Amazon.

By the way, for privacy purposes, I have not included a picture the porch that I took shelter under in this blog. It is in the book though, but not identified.

Inspired from my walk around the 42-mile Chemin Royal, as well as from a song written by a French-Canadian singer-songwriter, Félix Leclerc, where he describes Île d’Orléans as “42 miles of quiet things,” I came up with “42 Reasons to Visit Île d’Orléans.” And a “Travel Guide to Île d’Orléans,” and “Tips for Walking Île d’Orléans” to assist you with your journey to the island.

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The Cotswolds and The Sheep

by Debby Jagerman-Dungan
( June 10th, 2014 )

“We thank Thee for the sheep, whose wool has clothed and sustained many Cotswold generations…”


From “The Cotswold Prayer of Praise”


Cotswolds Sheep

There are many reasons I loved walking 12 days in the Cotswolds: The timeless villages, the historic churches, the bright yellow fields of rapeseed in bloom. The colorful flowers growing on the walls of the buildings, walking through pastures of horses and cows, the green scenery of the rolling hills. But most of all I loved walking next to the sheep. Yes, literally walking through farms right next to the sheep. I know it sounds silly, but I loved hearing them “baaaaa,” seeing the little lambs frolic or feed on their parents, admiring them lounging on or eating the grass, and…watching carefully where I stepped. Now that I have been home for a few weeks, I still say to my husband, “I miss the sheep!”

Cotswolds Sheep

Cotswolds Sheep

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds are located in south central England, consisting of an area approximately 2,250 square miles. The word “Cotswolds” itself is a combination of two old-English words which literally translate to… “sheep hills.” Historically, during the Middle Ages, the Cotswolds were “the heart of England’s vast wool trade” due to its abundance of sheep. “The wool was sometimes called ‘The Golden Fleece,’ partly perhaps because it brought such wealth to England but also because it could be made into ‘Cloth of Gold,’ [fit for] priests and kings.” With this great prosperity from hundreds and hundreds of years ago, because of the sheep and the wool business, manor houses, tithe barns, abbeys, and “wool churches” were built in the Cotswolds, many still standing today. The highest hill in the entire Cotswolds area is approximately 1,000 feet high.

Cotswolds Sheep

Cotswolds Sheep

Cotswolds Sheep

For those 12 days, my husband and I walked three to ten miles a day, from village to village, in various areas of Cotswolds. The land in most of England is considered “public rights of way,” meaning that land that we might consider private and trespassing on in the U.S., is free to walk through in England. There are established roads, paths, or tracks throughout the countryside, the towns, and even literally going through someone’s “private” property. (Hence, walking through yellow fields of rapeseed, and farms of horses, cows, and sheep.) I think it is a wonderful concept, allowing you to roam almost anywhere. We had several maps and detailed instructions (laminated and water proof) for our walks, guiding us through the maze of fields, farms, pastures, rolling hills, and other landscapes, connecting us to the villages.

Cotswolds Sheep

Cotswolds Sheep

Our travels to the Cotswolds derived because my favorite way to travel lately is to walk all day, sleep in beds and breakfasts at night, and not have to pack up each morning to go to the next location. Many people who walk in the Cotswolds follow the “Cotswolds Way,” a 100-mile path running approximately north to south (or south to north) through the area. To do that though, you need to stay in a different accommodation each night.

Cotswolds Sheep

Cotswolds Sheep

With the help of Footpath Holidays, we were given an itinerary that we loved. Sometimes staying in one bed and breakfast two to four nights in a row, doing day walks in an area, and then moving onto another area for a few nights. We didn’t have to carry a large backpack any of the days because many walks in England can be supported by drivers transporting the majority of your belongings to the next accommodation as needed. For these walks, you can also be driven to a starting point for the day and/or picked up at the end of the day. Thus we just needed to walk with a day pack, didn’t have to pack every morning, and could walk at a comfortable pace with plenty of time to visit all the sites, villages, and churches that we wanted. We loved this.

Cotswolds Sheep

Cotswolds Sheep

The logo for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a “Cotswold Lion.” The “Cotswold Lion” is actually a sheep. While there are not as many sheep as there were in the Middle Ages, there are more than 50 flocks of sheep in England, mainly in the Cotswolds, of which you can walk right next to and appreciate. I miss the sheep!

Cotswolds Sheep

Cotswolds Sheep

Sweet Travels!

Footpath Holidays organized our journey to the Cotswolds, and provided a small discount on our total fees. All opinions in this blog are my own. Some factual information and quotes in this blog obtained from the following:

Visitor’s Guide to the English Cotswolds: 2nd Edition, Blair Howard

Right of Way and Open Access Land, GOV.UK

Tales from End to End, The Tale of the Cotswold Lion, John Eckersley

Cotswold Lion Sheep, Cotswold.Info

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