On Rectory Road in North Ashton – near Ashton-in-Makerfield – is the Rectory Garden Centre, which is unlike any other garden centre. Of course, it sells the usual compost, flowers and plants and so on, but owner Kevin Duffy has also spent over thirty years creating – always using reclaimed or donated materials – the most bizarre objects within these grounds. The sign above is the entrance to a few rooms with an odd assortment of things, and is not actually part of Kevin Duffy's 'village' itself.
Here, though, as in the village, we can find such incongruous – almost surreal – combinations as 'Al's dancing fish' resting on an old radio. As with the rest of this post, often I leave an image without comment, sometimes because it speaks for itself, but more often because I'm (for once) left speechless. Duffy's art has that effect.
And so to the pièce de résistance: the village itself, which at an admission charge of 75 pence must be very difficult to beat for value.
The blue bust of Bill stands at the entrance.
The village local, with paraphernalia from other pubs.
Inside, a rather sinister looking landlord.
And the clientele.
This building is called 'All Faiths Church', although it began life as a potting shed. Note the 'Peace Tree' covered in post-its.
This was created in memory of Duffy's German shepherd dog (or Alsatian) Shona, who died at eleven years and three months.
Another sinister looking character lurks inside the entrance on the left.
AGED. 54 YEARS.
AGED. 54 YEARS.
This is indeed the original gravestone of William Stopford's donkey, which originally stood behind the Alison Arms in Appley Bridge. Stopford lived next to the pub.
The sign in front of this car proclaims that it was proudly owned by Kevin Duffy. It's a 1961 Ford Popular and was his first. Furthermore, that's the original colour and it was running until 2004.
A Chef le Normand L'École de Cuisine de Saint-Aubert clockface.
And a Château Jourdain (Bordeaux) clockface.
The sign in front of the woman here labels her 'Elizabeth Bennett', and I'm pretty certain that this must be a representation of Elizabeth Benet from Pride and Prejudice, because:
At the side of her is Mr Darcy.
The Rectory Garden Centre is a truly remarkable place and well worth going out of the way to visit.