Thursday, 1 January 2015

Pyrtle Spring

Just before Christmas my mum received a parcel from a cousin living in Cornwall, containing a rose that he called The Culverton Rose. The story goes that their great-grandparents used to 'court' at a place called Pyrtle Spring, which is close to Culverton. They found a wild rose growing there, so when they married they took a cutting and planted it in their garden. Since then a cutting of it has gone with members of the family whenever they set up home. Mum's cousin thought the rose was long gone, then found it growing under an old shrub, so sent one of the plants to her.  She already had it growing in her garden, although knew it as Pyrtle Spring, so passed it on to me to plant in my garden.

I did a bit of digging and found out that Benjamin Gomme and Kate Jifkins married on 17th Nov 1877 at Lacey Green. They were my great-great-grandparents and The Culverton Rose (or Pyrtle Spring) was first picked by them from the banks of Pyrtle Spring. Now it's going to be planted in my garden, 138 years later!

Mum had grown up hearing the stories about Pyrtle Spring, but she'd never been there, so we put on our wellies and headed off to find it.

Hidden in a dip in the fields, from a distance it just looks like a small copse. Brush Hill is off to the left, Bledlow Ridge can just be seen in the distance through the murk and Culverton on the edge of Princes Risborough is to the right.

Pyrtle Spring is the copse in the distance past the hedgerow
When you get to the trees, you realize that the ground dips down where the spring would have filled  with water and the trees are mostly growing around the edge. There was no water there today, but I believe these days it's seasonal and fills up when the water table is higher.

Inside the spring, currently dry

Bug Mad Girl managed to find a puddle - maybe it's the
Pyrtle Puddle!

The spring then heads off towards Princes Risborough -
water from the spring used to power several local
water mills.
Walking around inside the spring , the trees loom over you on the bank and their roots are exposed and twisted where they would have grown into the water. It felt like a very special, almost magical place, full of history and mystery.


The trees were all very old and beautiful, with amazing patterns and markings on the bark.

It was very quiet and peaceful, except for the twitter of birds, but there were signs of life everywhere ...

We found two Celandines - first spring flowers I've seen

Brooklime, an aquatic plant, was growing in the spring, so there must be
water here for at least part of the year. I believe there used to be watercress
beds here.
A birds nest could just be seen poking out of a hole in a tree

Inside a beautiful nest made of twigs and mud and lined with moss

There was lots of lichen

and moss

Fungus and lichen growing up a tree stump

A purple bracket fungus

We even found a rose growing on the edge of the spring. Could this be The Culverton Rose, still growing after all these years?

We'll be back throughout the year to see how the spring changes and to keep an eye on the water level. It would be lovely to see it full! It will also be interesting to see what the rose looks like and to compare it to the one in my garden.

I found this photo online, showing the spring in April 2009 - beautiful isn't it!

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