Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
Originally an Elizabethan manor farm and flanked by two large stone barns, Midway Manor became the property of the Shrapnel family in circa 1723. Originally cloth merchants in Bradford-on-Avon, their son lieutenant general, Henry Shrapnel (died 1842), famously invented the Shrapnel shell.
Henry Shrapnel resided at Midway Manor for much of his life and the entrance gate piers (listed Grade II) are each surmounted by canon balls.A stone carving wearing the Shrapnel family motto - ratio ultima regum - is immediately outside the entrance gates. On the back of the gate columns the names of various battles in which the Shrapnel shell has been used are engraved.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
I'll raise a toast tomorrow to the millions of Americans who celebrate our local inventor's "bombs bursting in the air" this weekend.
And I'll keep digging down the back of the sofa to see if I have necessary to buy the Manor...