Chalfont St Giles

Its been a while since I last posted. We just moved house, so in addition to being incredibly busy with packing and unpacking, we have also been without internet.

Shortly before we moved I revisited what had been one of my favourite walks, going through the Buckinghamshire village of Chalfont St Giles.

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There are a number of things I have come to appreciate about England since moving here over five years ago now (there are also things I miss about Canada and things I don’t appreciate as much, but that is for another post). One of the things I find fascinating and have made good use of is the public pathways and walking trails. Often these wind through private land and fields, but the paths themselves are open to anyone. This allows for anyone with a pair of walking shoes to enjoy the views of the countryside.

Another thing I love about England is the sense of history and the deep connection to the past. In Western Canada, finding a building more than a century old is difficult. In England it is relatively easy to find buildings that have been used for nearly a millennium.  This is not to say that Canada doesn’t have an ancient history, but the windows to the past are much more apparent in England.

In Chalfont St Giles you can walk past the cottage where John Milton wrote Paradise Lost. It has now been converted into a museum, but it still blends seamlessly into its surroundings.

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Or you can step even further back in history and explore this Norman era church that was built in the 12th century.  It is open to visitors during the week, and open to worshipers on a Sunday morning, just as it has been for nearly a thousand years.

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A connection to the past is not something to be taken lightly. For better or worse, history defines us and defines nations. History is sometimes incredibly beautiful and sometimes incredibly ugly. Either way, it has shaped us more deeply than we often realise. There are few places that I have experienced that contain such a rich and seamless blend of the ancient and the modern as England does.

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9 thoughts on “Chalfont St Giles

  1. Americans like Canadians can’t shake the colonial heritage. The Americans left Britain, the Loyalists left the States went in masses to Canada. Both places, with due deference to my Quebec friends, then filled up with immigrants who either spoke English or had to learn it. It’s the language that defines us culturally, and whatever variety we speak, it’s anchored in the hundreds of dialects spoken in Great Britain and Ireland as well as in its poets and authors. If you love language, Britain is either like going home or visiting an old grandparent. If I can speak for Canadians, too, we don’t share the British penchant for identifying social class by speech. We just recognize differences as regional or racial or funny.

    I just watched an episode of the satirical comedy program produced in the Maritimes, This Hour has Twenty-Two Miniutes, poke fun at Newfies, not maliciously as Newfie jokes sometimes do, but laughing with them at stereotypes of their speech.

    The French actually sing about their love for language, witness Yves Duteil’s pretty francophone song, La langue de chez nous. We anglophones takes ours more for granted.

    Thanks for the pictures of an English country town. In my dotage, I have become addicted to the BBC program, Escape to the Country, which showcases the best of rural Britain in tiny snippets. I certainly would love to become part of the Wind in The Willows, but preferably as The Mole or the Rat and not as Mr. Toad!

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    1. Agreed, the variations of accents in the UK has surprised me. Not only can people identify social class from people’s accents, they can tell which part of the country a person comes from. The same is true in North America to some extent, but I don’t think we have near the same variety of accents.

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  2. We have been on so many fine walks throughout the world, we always find our walks back home in Canada a bit boring. Guess that is part of living in modern suburbia. We thoroughly enjoyed our week in the Sheffield area last year and long for those kinds of walks again. Perhaps some day. In the meantime, thanks for taking us on a walk through the English countryside. Allan

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  3. what sticks out to me is the church that’s open as it has been for a THOUSAND years.
    Never ever do we see that in California! But on the other hand Afghanistan has a plethora of those things

    Liked by 1 person

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