This April we are once again blogging along with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our team of one-place studiers will be sharing some of the treasures to be found for a one-place study, particularly around the theme of Visualisation, our Shared Endeavour for 2016.

Some places are associated with iconic images which somehow seem to encapsulate that place. Think Dover (white cliffs), Brighton (pavilion), Edinburgh (castle), Sydney (opera house) and so on. For others it may be an activity - Wooton Basset in Wiltshire is forever associated with the tributes paid by its citizens to the fallen servicemen returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, earning itself the title 'Royal' in the process. Perhaps it's a person: Stratford goes with Shakespeare. Or maybe an industry, like Sheffield and steel or Bournville and chocolate. Whatever it is, for some places the mention of its name triggers certain recollections.

Springhill has none of these associations. No iconic buildings, major industries (although the wider area is linked with textiles and footwear industries; at one time over 75% of the UK felt was made by one local company, but nobody knows that) or famous people. Nothing of note, really.

Yet for most places, probably all, there is something which dominates the landscape, either literally or metaphorically. This may be a building, a particular landscape, a dominant figure or family or one of any number of things. They may be unknown in the broader sense but their influence on the area in question is huge.

Cross in field at Chapel Hill
The cross at Chapel Hill, photo courtesy of Suzie Elkington and used with permission

Springhill nestles under a Chapel Hill, a name older than any known chapel on it. The owners of the farm on the plateau of the hill have erected a huge cross in their field. This towers over the area, visible from most of the valley bottom for over a mile and a half. They did so for religious reasons but it has become a local landmark although unknown to the outside world.

Part of visualisation is the mental image and associations people forge with their places. These are part of their own experiences and interpretations of the place. For me, the cross over Springhill will be an enduring image long after the physical artifact has gone.

Janet Barrie

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