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The Trail Gallery

Ansley

In the centre of Ansley stands the heritage feature known simply as ‘The Boulder’. On this magnificent five tonne sandstone sculpture, artist Graeme Mitcheson has carved memories and reflections of Ansley’s heritage. You can easily spot carvings of ribbon making, coal mining and railways. However, some relate to legend and religion as a representation of a Norman carving in St Laurence’s Church shows a Christian’s fight with good and evil. Other elements include the Ludford family coat of arms, brook jumping and the local Great Crested Newt.

Arley

The people of Arley chose the snail bench as their heritage interpretation feature. School children took part in modelling workshops to develop the themes and ideas for this popular woodland seat. The back rest is carved with the first two lines of a poem by William Henry Davies called “Leisure”.

A unique feature of Arley Woods is its rare colony of Red Wood Ants (Formica rufa). These ants have been here for at least a hundred years and live in mounds built of forest material, like pine needles. These nests are usually on the edge of cleared areas, where they are sheltered from winds, but get plenty of sunlight. The carvings on the seat feature the ants, together with many other woodland residents, and a scene from the parish’s mining heritage. If you bring paper and crayons, you can make rubbings to take home and keep.

Astley

When artist Johnny White created Astley’s heritage feature, the new Lantern of Arden, he took his inspiration from the church. In the lantern’s windows, stainless steel panels mirror the ancient themes and history of the parish.

Three queens and the castle are represented. Sir Henry Grey hiding in an oak tree and the Victorian author, George Eliot, can all be found on the lantern, made from the same red sandstone as the church.

Atherstone

The Atherstone heritage feature is a ‘Tree of Life’ sculpture which illustrates parts of the town’s long heritage. The cast iron frame encases a living tree, showing that the town’s life and history are always changing and growing. The carved discs represent Atherstone’s canal and Market place and the ancient, infamous Ball Game. Atherstone’s adders climb the legs, and hats adorn the top.

The feature was created by Julie Edwards & Ron Thompson of Planet Art, Walsall Wood. Opposite the feature stands the old hat factory, now a listed building, for which a new use will be found soon.

Baddesley

This feature can be found on the main Arden Trail route as it crosses Baddesley Common, just off Newlands Road. Based on themes of nature, peace, tranquillity and the local coal mining heritage, Stroud based artist Ant Beetlestone used community suggestions and designs to develop and create two stone benches and a beautiful central birdbath.

Encouraging walkers to sit and rest awhile, one seat back is carved with images of nature on the Common whilst the other shows the toil of the underground coal miners.

Fillongley

Fillongley’s heritage interpretation feature is ‘The Family’. Carved by Graeme Mitcheson from sandstone, it shows the family group with each member holding a representation of local heritage.

The father - a lamb, for its farming history. The mother - a lantern, recalling the light that used to always burn in the church to remember villagers who had passed away. The daughter - a banner of silk, to remember the towns ancient silk weaving industry and showing part of the historic De Hastings family coat of arms. The son - a loaf of bread, a tribute to the village’s ancient mill and a reminder that the village was at one time self-sufficient.

Kingsbury

A sculpture by Julie Edwards & Ron Thompson of Planet Art, Walsall Wood is a beautiful granite bench seat, over which a cast iron carved arch stands proud. It is filled with images of the areas industrial heritage - mining, the brickworks, the mill, the oil refinery, as well as agricultural carvings, images of the Water Park and the Coat of Arms of The Bracebridge Family who were historic residents of Kingsbury Hall.

The trinity of villages, Kingsbury, Wood End and Hurley are all depicted in this sculpture.

Mancetter

Mancetter’s Jubilee Quarry has an exciting feature for walkers to enjoy, to stop for a bite to eat and a well-earned rest or just to pause and enjoy the surroundings. The six stones that make up the sculpture were carved by artist Ant Beetlestone and each stone represents Mancetter’s Roman history and the story of Queen Boudicca.

Visit the piece and you’ll see carvings of Celtic trumpet blowers announcing the charge into battle, Boudicca taking up arms against the oppression of the Romans, and faces representing the spirits of the dead… the ghosts that are said to march up the track, past the benches themselves. The artist used the volcanic rock diorite which is mined at Mancetter Quarry. It is known as ‘salt and pepper’ because of its colouring, and was donated by the quarry owners, Tarmac.

Shustoke

The Shustoke heritage interpretation feature takes the form of series of stepping stones across the green created by artist Michael Scheuermann. Each granite stone represents an aspect of Shustoke’s natural or industrial heritage: the railway, Blythe Hall and the church are amongst those featured.

Whitacre

The Whitacre heritage interpretation feature was carved by stone sculptor Graeme Mitcheson. The twisting sandstone tower brings together river and railway, farming and nature, which all meet at its peak, just as all aspects of traditional village life come together here.