Friday, February 29, 2008

The Cotswolds in Japan?

St. Peters Upper Slaughter

The Cotswolds of England is one of the loveliest places I have ever visited. While in England, we of course had to visit our namesake villages, Upper and Lower Slaughter - both unbelievably quaint and inviting!

When we checked in at The Lamb's Inn in Little Rissington, my husband signed our name (Slaughter) and the clerk roared with laughter. "You're making a joke, right?" he chortled. "That's the name of two Cotswold towns, not a family name!" We explained to him that people often took the name of the town as their surname or the town was named for the family. (We thought that was common knowledge, but evidently not.) Actually, the names Upper and Lower Slaughter come from the old name for a stream or "Slough", rather than referring to any great massacres.

"You mean to say that your family once owned this land?" The clerk had a Liverpudlian accent and looked a little like Ringo. My husband explained that his Slaughter family has been in America for over three hundred years, so we hadn't come to claim our inheritance. (I wish!)

The River Eye

Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter are only a mile apart. The walk between the villages, along the gentle, slow flowing River Eye, through meadows of wildflowers and sheep, past honey-coloured cottages is about as good as it gets!

Honey-coloured stone

We weren't the only ones to be impressed with the idyllic setting. On the day of our walk, as we arrived in Upper Slaughter, we noticed many large extension cords running up and down the street, in and out of houses and buildings. What on earth was going on? Then we saw several Japanese cameramen video-taping the village!

A young woman was in her garden, tending her nasturtiums behind her white picket fence. We asked her if she knew what was happening. "Oh, a billionaire in Japan is building a duplicate of Upper Slaughter in Japan," she replied as if it was an everyday occurence. I think if I had a billionaire dollars, I'd just move to the Cotswolds.

Lower Slaughter Foot-bridge

When we entered St. Peter's in Upper Slaughter (a very small chapelry), the church was lit with photographic spotlights, cords running everywhere. The vicar rushed in and told us we'd have to leave, as the photographers were about to film the inside of the church. We took a copy of the small printed history of the parish and plunked a couple of pounds in the collection box. It wasn't until we were on our way to Oxford the next day that I read the pamphlet. At the front of St. Peters Upper Slaughter is the Slaughter family crest and near the altar, in the floor, are several Slaughter burials circa 1600. We missed these things because of a Japanese billionaire!

We dined at the Lamb's Inn where we were staying. A nice local couple at the table next to us were celebrating their twentieth anniversary with their teenage kids. We ended up talking to them for an hour or two. The dining room was decorated with old airplane parts, hanging on the walls and we asked the reason. It seems a fighter pilot crashed nearby during World War II. The parts were from the crash.

Such a Polite Society

We drove the off roads through hills and fields of gold, thinking of Sting's song by that name. We accidently happened upon a Roman ruin, not on the map. Chedworth has some of the best preserved Roman Mosaics in the country -- in their original location. A wonderful serendipity experience.

Chedworth Roman Mosaic

Even though our trip to England took place in 1998, I go back there often (in my mind).

I wonder if Upper Slaughter, Japan is completed! It can't possibly take the place of the one in England.

1 comment:

Marty said...

Another fabulous post! The pictures are perfect.