To Live Contented, Private and Refign’d : the Jesus Hospital in Rothwell

Watching football is not – fortunately – all about the game itself.  As the match doesn’t last very long, an afternoon at the football does allow the time to ft in some lunch and a spot of sight-seeing.  Rothwell has many sights to see (yes, really – it does) and one of the pleasantest is the Jesus Hospital (or Jefus Hofpitall, as it announces itself) –

Jefus Hofpitall

This Elizabethan almshouse was originally built in 1586, by local schoolmaster Owen Ragsdale.  Childless himself, he decided that he wanted to make the poor of the parish “his sons and heirs” and allowed 25 old men to live in the almshouse free of rent “for ever”.  Nowadays it is used as sheltered housing.  Although they no longer live rent free, I did glimpse one or two of the residents, and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that they had been living there since 1586, as, indeed, who wouldn’t want to?

The Hofpitall has what appeared to be its own vegetable garden –

Vegetable garden

and resident staff who, when I visited, seemed to be working in the garden and – how rare this is these days! – happy in their work.

I was particularly struck by this plaque –

 In case you can’t make it out, it reads –

CHRIST Blefs our Governors prolong their Days,

Who plac’d us here to render heav’n our praife

To live contented, private and refign’d,

Free from life’s toils, and humours of mankind

Pleaf’d with wife AGURS Mediocrity,

Too low for Envy for contempt too high,

What we now have we thankfully poffefs,

Till we exchange for greater happinefs.

(Henry Dorner Principal 1721) 

I confefs myfelf greatly imprefs’d by the fentiments exprefs’d herein, tho’ vex’d to difcover that the meaning of  “Pleaf’d with wife AGURS Mediocrity” efcapes me quite.  Plufs, of courfe, the ufe of Capitalization and italics – I think I shall adopt this ftyle forthwith.



Cadbury World, and the Bournville Cricket Pavilion

News this week that Cadbury’s is threatened with a hostile takeover by Kraft (not, alas, Kraftwerk).

A few years ago my daughter “persuaded” me to take her to visit Cadbury World in Bournville, Birmingham.  This involved a guided tour of the chocolate factory, and a chance to visit the Bournville Museum.  You would probably need to be slightly keener on chocolate than I am to get the full benefit of the experience (you seemed to be tasting the stuff for several hours after you’d left) and I’m not sure either that it quite conveyed the reality of the operations of a multi-national corporation such as Cadbury’s has inevitably become.

The village was pleasant, though, if very obviously planned, with an air of high thinking and plain living about it.  The lack of pubs would have been a problem for me, I think, though I don’t doubt (much) that what they created there was preferable to what preceded it.

What I did have was the chance to see  the cricket ground very close to Cadbury World, the home of the Bournville club, though Worcestershire played a few matches there before the First War and Warwickshire Second XI have played there too more recently.

The pavilion is the outstanding feature, and it was presented to the club by Cadbury’s to mark the coronation of Edward VII.  Here, courtesy of the Birmingham Post, it is –

Bournville Cricket Pavilion

Bournville Cricket Pavilion

Something about this (and, indeed, the village itself)  reminded me of the Holly Lodge Estate in Highate – another example, I suppose, of high-minded planning.

I wonder what the chances are that Kraft, or, indeed, the present-day Cadbury’s would offer to build a pavilion like this for a local cricket club to mark the coronation of Charles III? Not good, I’d wager.