Myth and magic of bluebells at Renishaw Hall

PIC: Scott Merrylees

PIC: Scott Merrylees

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Myths hoary with age say you should always tread carefully through bluebells because if you walk over them the bells will ring, knocking the fairy spells onto the ground.

They’re also known as witches thimbles and legend has it that their bells ring at night, calling the fairies out.

Whether you choose to believe in fairy tales and old wives tales or not, bluebells have long been associated with the changing of the seasons from spring to summer, flowering as they do from April through to June. The delicate, elegant flowers have long held a place in the hearts of people.

In times gone by, their sap was used to glue pages into books because the toxins tend to discourage silverfish and the glue was also used to stick feathers to arrows by Bronze Age people,according to archaeological evidence.

In Elizabethan times, their bulbs were crushed to starch collars, cuffs and sleeves.

All parts of the bluebell are poisonous but they have been used to treat leprosy in the past and it has even been said to have properties which could help fight HIV and cancer.

There are other stories associated with bluebells. One has it that if you wear a wreath of bluebells you will only be able to tell the truth, while another says that if you can turn a bluebell flower inside out without tearing it you will keep and win the one you love.

Our picture was taken at Renishaw Hall and Gardens near Sheffield. Renishaw Hall is a Grade I listed building which dates back more than 350 years. The house was built in 1625 by George Sitwell (1601–67) who, in 1653, was High Sheriff of Derbyshire.

The Sitwell fortune was made as colliery owners and ironmasters from the 17th to the 20th centuries. It houses an extensive archive of f letters, books and artefacts.

There is a cafe, museum and even a vineyard, planted in 1972 and which until 1986 was the most northerly vineyard in the UK.

Technical details: Lumix GX7, 7.5mm lens, 320 sec, f11, ISO 200. Picture Scott Merrylees

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