Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Pillars of the Community
More from Exton. Everyone (including me, as you have seen), gets carried away by Exton church and the monuments. Pevsner rushed through, barking at his assistants about lucarnes and stiff-leaf; Hoskins kept coming back before going over to Tixover churchyard for forty winks. Both missed (or ignored) this little building up at the top end of the village. There's nothing grand about it, just a set of pillars carefully constructed in curved bricks holding up a roof of Collyweston slates with a ball and cross finial on top. Exton was once an important staging post between Leicester and the Great North Road, (the Fox and Hounds pub on the tree-lined green still bears witness to this), and I had thought that this was a market cross. But I am reliably informed that it is in fact the housing for a now extinct village pump. It has immense charm, and I was looking forward to saying that it doesn't take much imagination to make the grass and trees disappear, replacing them with a rough cobbled area filled with wooden crates of vegetables, trestle tables stacked with butter and eggs. Nevertheless, this was still a meeting place for villagers, albeit with buckets rather than baskets, their children playing tag around the brick pillars whilst they gossiped and sheltered from the rain.