Too many flowery sods…the stately homes of Derbyshire

This week, we’ve been talking about the stately homes of Derbyshire, and making a collage of one of the most famous grand houses in our area: Hardwick Hall, near Chesterfield. Derbyshire is well known for its mansions and ancient aristocratic houses, from medieval Haddon Hall near Bakewell, to the Classical Palladian mansions of Chatsworth, Kedleston Hall and Calke Abbey. Many of them are  now open to the public and are a firm favourite for day-trips and cream teas.

We read the poem ‘The Homes of England’ by Victorian poet Felicia Dorothea Hemans, which was the first time that the phrase “stately homes” was used. We were also rather amused by the phrase “flowery sods” in the poem!

Here is our reply to the poem:

No flowery sods for us!

We wouldn’t like to live in a stately home.
There are too many windows to clean.
Too many flowery sods about!
How many miles would you have to walk, sweeping the floors?
And if nature called in the middle of the night,
Imagine how far you’d have to stumble down the corridors?
If the heavens opened, the leaky roof would have you
Running everywhere with mops and buckets.
The electric bill would be enormous,
Lighting all those rooms.

Doing the garden would be an endless chore.
(Even though a ride-on mower looks fun!)
I’d need a giant leaf-blower too!
None of this is for me.
I’d rather have my semi-detached!

Poems inspired by William Blake’s Paintings

This week, we’ve been reading the poems of William Blake and finding out all about his life. Born in 1757 in London, he trained as an engraver, which is how he made his living until his death in 1827, but he was very creative, and produced his own paintings, engravings and poetry. He was never famous in his own lifetime, but is now considered to be one of the greatest poets of his age, and his visionary art continues to inspire people all around the world.

We looked at some of his paintings – some on Biblical themes, and some of them more mystical, and we talked about what we saw in them.

Blake, William, 1757-1827; Our Lady with the Infant Jesus Riding on a Lamb with Saint John

Blake, William; Our Lady with the Infant Jesus Riding on a Lamb with Saint John; Paintings Collection;

Riding on a lamb
No stirrups
The colours blend in well
The background has different layers:
Deep green contrasts with the pale.


Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing circa 1786 by William Blake 1757-1827

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing circa 1786 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by Alfred A. de Pass in memory of his wife Ethel 1910

Fairies dancing
People in lots of different positions.
It’s beautiful.

The dance of Albion

The Dance of Albion

Very nice – he was very clever
Tightly curled hair
Lovely colours
Male bodies but feminine faces
The top half could be a woman,
Standing on rocks.

Jerusalem illustration


He’s running away from someone or something.
Could it be a girl?
Is she going into a church?
Someone’s following her.
The church is a place of safety.
She’s looking sideways,
Looks quite frightened.
The shining orb in her hands
As she walks down the corridor.

Looks like somebody trying to escape.
A bloke with a flashlight.
Sneaking off –
Looking around to see if anyone’s seen him.
Up to no good?
Where is he going? Jerusalem?
Wearing flat sandles.
What’s that in his hand?
Reflecting the light from the door?
With no good intention.

Angels hovering

Angels watching over the body of Jesus in the tomb

They’re praying for Him
Watching over Him
Guardian angels
Waiting to take his soul up to heaven
They might be coming for him.

The Dawn Chorus – Bird Kennings

Last week, we talked about the Dawn Chorus, and wrote some poems in an ancient Anglo Saxon style about some of our favourite birds. The Kenning is a form of poetry that is like a riddle. Can you guess which birds we are describing?


Territory defender
Winter visitor
Christmas card model
Night Singer
People liker
Red breasted


Early alarm caller
Black and glossy
Orange beak and eye
Secret revealer
Nursery rhyme pie ingredient
Gardener’s friend


Swift and turquoise
Fish diver
Riverbank dweller
Water watcher
Branch sitter

1. Robin



2. Blackbird



3. Kingfisher