From Stonehouse to Daglingworth and a Mystery by James Pentney


Turn To The Wall – a Daglingworth Mystery
or Pin The Tale On A War Horse
Hanging on the high wall that faces the canal beside St Cyr’s
church, a banner proclaims Afternoon Tea.
through a low arched door, lo, a lawn unfolds leading up to the Lutyens architecture
of Stonehouse Court, thankfully hidden from the main road, where the forecourt
draws be-suited business people and wedding party planners.
From the tea tables on the terrace the view of heights of
Coaley Peak and Uley Bury is marred only by late twentieth century brick development
on either side of the garden. We are told vineyards grew here in Prima Romana
days and the estate appears in Domesday as the property of one William D’ Ow,
cousin of William the Conqueror.
 The waiter indicated
a passage in the recent brickwork. “William the Conqueror’s horse is buried there.”
What? Surely not, yet a huge worked stone leans at an angle
with a carved cross, quite possibly Norman. How intriguing, just my cup of tea.
So to Daglingworth near Sapperton; “Have you seen the Saxon
stone reliefs?”
“There are three in remarkable condition almost modern.”
 “An influence on Gill,” observed one
who would know.
The stones were discovered during restoration of the Saxon
church in the nineteen century. They had been turned inward to disclose the
images of Christ enthroned, Saint Peter with the key of heaven and the
Crucifixion: An attempt to protect them from the vandalism of the Reformation?  Not so. The in situ archaeology means they
were hidden no later than 1100.
Look more closely at the faces of St Peter and Jesus and they
both have those lush Saxon moustaches. So what could be the story?
It’s Normandy circa 1035. Two boys, cousins both called
William. One called the Bastard, the other Ow. Perhaps because that’s what he
would cry when playing with his cousin. “Ow, you bastard.”
At the tender age of eight William the B succeeded his
brutal father Robert as Duke of Normandy. Thirty one years later he was William
the C, king of England.
 The psychiatric
diagnosis of choice for our time, OCD can easily be pinned on William by
historians, among others. What made him cross the Channel with his Norman
knights and war horses to put an end to Anglo Saxon England? Usurped by Harold,
having once been promised the throne by the Confessor?   Occupational Conquering Desire was the job
description. It goes with the territory.
Like all of us, he carried baggage and phobias from childhood
experience. Did something happen when he was young leaving him hating the
moustache? The Bayeaux Tapestry shows cavalier moustached Saxons routed by
round skin headed Normans.
Victory on Senlac Field, eradication of the Saxon nobility
and the redistribution of their estates to his Norman clansmen saw his cousin,
the knight that said Ow, get Stonehouse.                                        On
route to deal with Exeter on his trusty, battle worn steed, did he stop at
Daglingworth, where in the church Jesus Christ and Saint Peter supported the
“Mon Dieu, zout alors … get them out of my sight,” he
ordered in Norman French.
That night at Stonehouse, the old war horse that had carried
him through the battle, lay down.