Cley, Norfolk – St Margaret

We had a good hour in Blakeney Church, then caught the bus the short hop to Cley. Cley windmill is rather nice b&b (a bit above my price range) with its own website – Probably built about 1819. We found a nice café, though it wouldn’t be Julie friendly.

St Margaret’s church is to the south of the village – TG 048432. The parish website is at, and it is worth mentioning the wonderful Norfolk Churches site – When he visited in 2004, Simon Knott took many excellent photos, and told the story of the church with much more skill than me. He ended his blog with a comment: “This church had been built for so much more than congregational worship, but this was all it could now do; as if the Anglican community was camped out uneasily in its ruins, in the vastness of something so wholly beyond their imagination.” Fifteen years later, and I wonder if I can dare to suggest that the Anglican community in at least some of these churches is starting to realise we must do more than just camp out. We walked down to find all the doors wide open, and Borderlines in place.

“Every summer, Cley Contemporary Arts offers locals, returning visitors and tourists the chance to encounter the perspectives of artists on their connections to Norfolk”. This year guest curators Theodora Lecrinier and Hannah Turner Wallis of Dyad Creative have selected 40 works by 43 artists to reflect on the theme of Borderlines. They are on show in St Margaret’s, in the churchyard, and at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust centre. More information at

I have to say that modern art does nothing for me, but it was wonderful seeing the church well used. I hope that the busyness of the summer (and I hope some money) gets them through the winter. It was disappointing seeing that this is a church with a bat problem – I am sorry if I offend the wildlife lobby, but bat urine and faeces are destroying many of our medieval churches, and demoralising many of our congregations.

Wiveton church is less than a mile away across the river – a river which would once have been busy with local fishermen and men who traded further afield, across the North Sea as part of the Hanseatic League. Their wealth is seen in this church – we’ll look at the shields by the South Door later.

You will notice that the tower is on the north side, and this was probably the line of the original church. In the C13 the church was rebuilt – chancel first, then the Nave. The work is similar to that of John Ramsey, who was master mason to Bishop Salmon of Norwich and the Cathedral Priory, and then later in Ely. He was probably the designer, but left the work to others. The work on the Nave and Transepts probably started around 1315. The nave was lengthened and the west front built in the 1340s – perhaps they planned a new tower, but ran out of money. The Nave was heightened in the mid 1400s – enjoy the carvings.

I can’t tell you which artist did which piece of art – although the booklet gives me titles and a biography, it is not always easy to work out which is which. The orange banner behind the altar is called “The Essence of Eveything”. I’d pick up Eucharistic symbolism – the catalogue does not.

In the south aisle is an installation by Joy Pitts entitled ‘3000 Used Garments’. “Like birds and humans, garments migrate from one country, region, or place to another. Starting life as plants for harvesting, followed by weaving and finishing, garment production, shipping and distribution. These 3,000 garments have been intercepted allowing them to pause at St Margaret’s church before completing their journey. This installation reflects the support and inclusion offered in the context of the church.” That gave me pause for thought.

In the north aisle ‘Encroach’ by Henri Lacoste shows Norfolk as the sea level rises. Our collective weakness to do anything about it is challenged. The geographer in me could relate to this one.

In the west porch was this triangle. Is it the catalogue’s fault that I can’t identify it – or my fault for not giving the exhibition the time it deserved?

There’s some lovely woodwork too. The fine octagonal Jacobean oak pulpit dates from 1611 – it’s too fine to be left to the mercy of the bats. Some of the benches are C15- enjoy the faces. In the Chancel the six misericords are rather lovely. The underside of each one is carved with the initials JG, a merchant’s mark, and the Grocers’ Arms. These arms were not granted until 1532. JG may represent John Greneway – the Greneway family were connected with Cley. A Thomas G was church warden here in 1553 and a Ralph G was an alderman of London in the same decade.

The font dates from the middle of the C15 – this type of font was new and fashionable in the 1460s. (I love the idea of it being a fashionable font – was there a maker of such fashionable fonts? Where did you purchase it from? How did you choose it? Was there a font catalogue? Can anyone tell me?). It shows the seven sacraments.

There is a little early glass, but much of it is early C20 – I like the mill.

Here’s an interesting memorial. I wonder why he died at 42, and how she coped with her six children.

I went out into the South Porch. It can be dated to between 1405 and 1414. Full of carving, heraldry, and the shields of the various families who were instrumental in the building of the church. The family of Sir John de Vaux had been granted land by the Normans. A charter of 1265 says he was granted land by Henry III. He owned land at Boston and at Cley, both important ports. He was the first of many wealthy and important men, and their families, to be linked to this church. They are probably also the sort of people who bought art (art which would have been ‘modern’ at the time they purchased it!). I don’t know who made the banners in the churchyard.

There are fascinating gravestones as well. Thank you, good people of Norfolk, for caring for such lovely churches.

We walked back into the village, then caught the bus on to Sheringham. We had time for a walk down to the beach, then had coffee by the North Norfolk Railway before catching our train to Norwich. On to Ely where Elaine left, and I continued to Nottingham, then down to East Midland Parkway with arrival at 2215. I pack a lot into a day!

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Blakeney, Norfolk – St Nicholas

In East Anglia on 29 July 2019, and the bus took us on through Wells – an interesting piece of driving. Then we changed onto the Coasthopper and continued east. The bus stops outside St Nicholas church, Blakeney – TG 033434, – and it is quite some church. A welcoming noticeboard and a lovely guide.

The first evidence of a church here is in Domesday, but no evidence of this building has been found. The oldest part of the current building is C13, Early English style – wonderful stone vaulting in the Chancel dates to 1240. If I was the Vicar I’m sure the Chancel would be big enough for most of the services! The Nave itself was built in 1435 in the Perpendicular style. The hammer beam roof is made of oak and chestnut – I really need to get a tripod so I can photo angels properly.

The unusual seven lancet window in the east end is based on the Te Deum depicting Mary and the child surrounded by saints and angels. The Chancel is the oldest part of the church and dates from the C13. There are four medieval misericords.

The woodwork in the Nave is newer, but the carvings are great fun.

There are some interesting pieces of graffiti – you can imagine a shipowner or captain doing it as a votive offering. This must have been a stunning church in a prosperous town – you can imagine the thanksgiving when a ship came into port, and the tears when it didn’t. There are memories of the lifeboats as well. Hettie was in service between 1873 and 1891.

The font is C15, with the mutilated faces of the gospel writers.

There is one window of medieval stained glass, glass saved at the Reformation.

On the south side there are lots of early C20 windows. St Etheldreda and Ely Cathedral, Oswald and Heavenfield, Thomas Becket and Henry II.

In the porch there are two nice modern windows by Jane Gray. One commemorates the Few, the other a Millennium window for the village.

Under the tower is the Church Office (with church administrator coping with a baptism family), and you can climb the tower for a donation. We donated, and climbed. Stunning views from the top. Enjoy!

The churchyard was worth having a wander round as well.

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Burnham Market, Norfolk – St Mary the Virgin

On Monday 29 July 2019 I had a day in East Anglia. The 0621 from East Midlands Parkway, meet Elaine at Ely, get into King’s Lynn at 0902, and catch the 0930 bus along the coast. There is a £10 bus ticket valid on all the services – it really is a bargain. The Coastliner 36 bus came into Burnham Market at 1110, past St Mary the Virgin church – TF 830421 – and it looked busy. We needed coffee, so off the bus and into a café! Then through the market and the church has a flea market (do I want to buy a flea?). It certainly had a buzz about the place. The church website is, but it doesn’t give us much info about the church itself.

The South Porch is originally C15, once with a room over the porch. Most of the interior is C14. The pews are Victorian, and they are debating getting the out – a good idea (though they are useful for displaying pictures for sale – I wonder how many they sell). A good wooden ramp, and toys by the font – the bowl is late medieval, the base modern.

There is a C14 effigy under the tower. It was discovered, upside down, in the north aisle in 1823, so no one knows who he is. The brass lady has three children – some of the brass has gone missing. The inscription of 1523 refers to John Huntley and his two wives, Mary and Anne.

The East window was designed and installed in Coronation year 1953 by E.F. Erridge. The leaflet describes it as one of the finest post-war windows in Norfolk.

The tower was built around 1310, and the parapet dates to the C15. Various interesting pictures – Adam and Eve, the executioner with the head of John the Baptist, St Andrew, and various others if you had binoculars.

Some nice memorials around the churchyard too. We got chatting to another photograpeher, and had to make a dash for the next bus.

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Crich, Derbyshire – St Mary the Virgin

Last summer my blog readers will remember that I did a lot of work on The Carriage of Mail on Trams for an exhibition at the Tramway Museum at Crich. Over the winter they made it into an exhibition. I went over on Wednesday 17 July – and was given a tour. I was impressed with what they have done. It’s well worth a visit.

I stopped at the parish church on my way home – SK348546. I have driven past it many times. It is a church with a permanent Easter Garden – that’s class. I am going to praise their website – – for the line “the church has a toilet for the disabled, is wheelchair accessible & also has a hearing loop.“, but not for the fact they deal with their history in four lines. They have no guidebook either, but there are some laminated sheets which tell you some history.

Pevsner says it is “Quite an impressive church with early origins; restored in 1861 by Henry Currey.” Not sure about that word ‘quite’. It is a Grade 1 listed building, dating from 1135. As you enter and look up you see that a recent family service included a helium heart, and they have someone who likes making banners (even the piano gets its own text).

Half way up the north aisle is a curious wooden beam which is thought to have come from the roof of the chancel when its roof was restored. The beam reads “Thomas Shelmerdine – Minister 1649”, he was called a minister as it was in the Commonwealth. Would the beam and the writing have been hidden from view? Three years later we have this lovely brass.

The Wakebridge tomb is almost certainly that of Sir William de Wakebridge, despite there being no name on the tomb. The most interesting feature of this tomb is the Catherine wheel that an angel is holding to his ear. Originally there was an angel on either side of the body figure, but one has been destroyed and the angel at the front has lost its head. Sir William was involved at the start of the 100 years War. In 1349 the Black Death took his father, wife, three brothers, two sisters and a sister-in-law. He founded a Chantry Chapel in the north aisle, and later (1368) another on the south side.

The stone columns on the North side are the oldest ones in the church and are of Norman design. In the final column is a stone which looks like a cat (or does when you turn it upside down) – is it a Saxon piece? The piece of carved stone below it may be part of a stone cross – again, no idea of the date.

The east window of the north aisle is a Light of the World window – we’ve found a few of them on our travels. It was installed as a memorial to the Reverend Chawner, Vicar here between 1855 and 1875. The subscription was organised by Dr Dunn, the parish doctor, medical officer for the Belper area, and personal physician for Florence Nightingale – she was involved in finding the firm to create this window.

The Chancel screen was removed when St Mary’s was restored in 1861, ended up in a builder’s yard in Derby, was purchased by the vicar of St Peter’s and erected there. It was returned to Crich at some stage.

The John Claye tablet has an amusing pun on his name. The Claye tomb is next to the altar on the north wall. The engravings are of John (died 1632) and his first wife Mary (died 1583). On the side end of the tomb are five kneeling figures, John’s children –  Susannah, Mary, Penelope, William and Theophilis. The memorial above the tomb is The Pole Memorial. “Here lies the body of German Pole, master of Wakebridge in the county of Derby, a squire who departed this life on the 19th day of April in the year 1588 from our Virgin’s birth. He took to wife Margaret the daughter of Edward son of John Ferrers a soldier from Tamworth. Afterwards the aforementioned Margaret was married by John Clay.” The 1986 memorial has “excellent design and lettering characteristics” says Pevsner. I think it is too cramped.

Captain Wheatcroft was serving in India in November 1857, having earlier fought in the Crimea. His wife had a dream one night in which her husband was in great anguish. She told her family about it, and was very apprehensive about his safety. A telegram arrived from the War Office saying he had been killed on the day after her dream. She did not accept this date, and the following year a fellow officer confirmed he had witnessed the Captain’s death on the day that his wife had the dream. Eventually records were changed.

The stone lectern on the north side of the altar is one of only four left in Derbyshire – right, better go and find the others! (Pevsner says Spondon and Chaddesden, but if they are I missed them both!).

A bright East window, and two nice bench end – one C15 or C16 century, the other earlier. The font is Norman but “zealously scraped.”

I was stunned by the length of the Roll of Honour, and went outside with pensive thoughts. There is a large war memorial by the gate. Also some interesting slate memorials on the walls of the church. A fascinating place.

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Dronfield, Derbyshire – St Andrew’s Community Church

My evening engagement on Thursday 20 June was at St Andrew’s Community church in Dronfield where I was to be at the licensing of the Reverend Paul Mellars as Team Vicar. This is a church which includes the grid reference on the invitation – respect! SK 337783 (they must have known they would be on Northernvicar’s blog). They have a website,, and you can read their full parish profile. The Local Ecumenical Project was founded in 1971, originally meeting in people’s homes, the church was built in 1973, and is physically connected to the school. We got a good welcome, and I ended up photoing the great and the good after the service.

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Edensor, Derbyshire – St Peter

On Thursday 20 June I had to drive north for a licensing at Dronfield, and had supper with Hannah en route at the Fox Inn. On the way there I pulled in opposite Chatsworth to visit the church of St Peter, Edensor – SK 251698. They have a guide page on their website –  – and a page about the monuments. At the front of the church there are ferocious steps. There is no sign (or anything on the website) which tells you there is flatter access round the back (but they are an “inclusive congregation” … anyone else notice the irony?)

The church was rebuilt in 1864-70 in Early English style for the 7th Duke of Devonshire by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The south porch is old, much restored, and incorporated into the new build. I liked a nearby face. Apparently the boot scraper outside the porch is to a Gilbert Scott design, but I missed that (memo to self, read website first (especially when you find there isn’t a guidebook!?!).

Nice little kitchen at the back, and plenty of seats in this church!

Two fonts. The main one includes four columns of Duke’s red marble (which Duke??). The font cover dates to 1993 – designed by Michael Bradshaw, made by Ray Bradshaw, painted by Lawrence Udall. And a Seventeenth century one for good measure!

There are a selection of War Memorials. The flag hanging in front of the memorial is the King’s Colour of the Chatsworth Rifles, the 16th battalion of the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, the Sherwood Foresters. The unit was raised in 1915 by the Duke of Devonshire, disbanded in 1922, and the Colour presented for safekeeping here. The Chatsworth Rifles saw action on the Western Front in March 1916. In 2½ years, 29 officers and 600 men were killed . They won 1 VC, 6 DSOs, 28 MCs, 14 DCMs and 63 MMs. The Colour  carries the names of the 10 battles in which the battalion took a conspicuous part.

Other memorials include the Vicar’s son who died in the Boer War, the member of the Cavendish family murdered in Ireland – see  and the Vicar who served the village for 52 years. He had to help the Family cope with the death of one of their own, and had to cope with the death of his own son, all the while continuing to serve and pray for his community. They also display the wreath that Queen Victoria sent for Charles’ funeral.

The most impressive memorial is that to Bess of Hardwick’s sons, Henry Cavendish (died 1616) and William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire (died 1625). Apparently Henry “was the MP for Derbyshire five times, but (according to Wikipedia) did not participate greatly in politics. His mother disinherited him due to his morals and behaviour – he inherited the estate, and sold it to his brother William. William accumulated a vast fortune – he paid £10,000 for the title of Baron Cavendish of Hardwiclk. This memorial must have cost a few quid too – William Wright made it, he needs some research. Could we persuade the church they don’t need as many chairs in the chapel, or the benches stacked beside it?

There is more I should have photographed, but time was pressing. I’ll come back! I’m told the café in the village is rather good too.

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Kirkharle, Northumberland – St Wilfrid

A couple of days in Newcastle, and on Thursday 11 July we had a drive through Northumberland. One of the churches worth re-blogging is St Wilfrid’s church Kirkharle, just off the main A696 at NZ 012826. I last visited in 2015, moaned about the website, and commented “It is a lovely spot, but it is only used for one service a month. They are talking about an improved heating system, but can that really be justified for a building used so rarely. How can we get the tourism and the visitors going to the shops up to the church – and get them thinking about more than shopping?”

There is a new website for the shops –, and it includes this page Capability Brown was baptised here, and the whole site has built on its CB links – it was his anniversary in 2016. We did some “Spirit in Stone” work with these parishes, so I would like to think they built on that. (Have a look at the end of this blog to find out about “Spirit in Stone”.

The website proclaims that in 2018 “with generous grant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Community Foundation, All churches Trust and Northumberland Historic Churches, essential restoration to the drains and the masonry has been completed, a brand new oil heating system installed and the vestry upgraded to provide basic catering facilities. The £90,200 funding has saved and restored the building’s fabric, and with the new modern heating system it’s hoped that besides regular church services, other events can be held in St Wilfrids, including talks, concerts, exhibitions and weddings bringing the building back to life for the community. Enquiries are welcome.”

Electricians were working in the church when I called in, and it was lovely to see the work they were doing. Also great to see new guide, information boards, and a buzz about the place.

The HLF funds even allowed them to have a new altar frontal in memory of CB. It is inspired by the landscapes he created, and by the botanical paintings of Henrietta Loraine of Kirkharle Hall. Between 1826 and 1829 she painted always daily, a different local wildflower, inscribing on the painting the date, the Latin name of the flower and its location. The 214 paintings are in a private collection, but are one of the earliest surviving record of wild flowers of the area. The charity, Fine Cell Work, was commissioned to undertake the embroidery, designed by Kate Paton-King. It was undertaken by prisoners at HMP Frankland in County Durham. The background painting by Sabina Rose suggests a typical Capability Brown landscape with rolling hills and a serpentine lake.

The font is special, now with a display board, and the eagle is fun.

Spirit in Stone was a 2013 project linked in with the coming of the Lindisfarne Gospels to Durham. A team in Newcastle and Durham diocese produced a gazetteer of 120 churches to visit (copies were widely distributed), and a website – .

The website still exists, and thanks to Andrew is still updated – no thanks to either Diocese. A link is hidden in the depths of the Newcastle diocese website, but I can find no mention of it on the Durham one. One of these days the Church of England will realise that heritage and tourism are worth promoting (but I’m not holding my breath). Fortunately there are some people in our parishes who still have this vision – well done Kirkharle.

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Breadsall, Derbyshire – All Saints

The Churchwardens were sworn in at a service at All Saints church, Breadsall, on Tuesday 18 June. It’s a church close to home, with a lovely spire that looks down on the Derwent valley. SK 371398. They have a website –  – which has a section on disabled access, but it makes nothing of the history of this Grade 1 church, and has no comments as to when it is unlocked. The two noticeboards in the churchyard have no contact details at all. There are details of the church at I went back on another occasion to get a few outside photos – you can decide whether you like the evening light, or the gathering storm.

The tower is C13 and I like the line “Clasping buttresses rising to crenellated parapet on corbels.” The spire is C14 – Pevsner says it is “one of the finest steeples in the county.” The main entrance is not easy, but there is a south door, probably C12 with some old wrought iron work.

The church was rebuilt after a fire in 1914, and tradition says that was started by Suffragettes. An article in the Derby Telegraph looks at this – and has some photos of the damage. The Vicar was in no doubt it was the women! The tower and spire and walls were almost all that was saved. They did a good job of the rebuilding. I like the carving on the screen. There are some burnt papers, and a memorial plaque. Nice angels high inside, but my photos failed.

There is a pieta – described by Pevsner as “somewhat strident in expression.” It’s C14 Nottingham alabaster, found in 1877. There was a gallery of Nottingham alabaster in Nottingham Castle Museum, but when we went last year it was a gallery that needed some work. The museum is now closed, so we’ll see if the religious artefacts get the care and display that they need, or whether they’ll just be put in store because no one’s interested in religious stuff.

Nice east end, and some interesting embroidery.

The memorial is to Erasmus Darwin, “A Physician, Poet and Philospher”. He died in 1802 at Breadsall Priory – now a location of wedding and funeral bunfights. The Erasmus Darwin Museum at Lichfield is well worth a visit I’m sorry I couldn’t get better photos.

I like the angel tree, and the memorial to an organist.

Let’s also remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice – and the church people who maintain the churches, churchyards and everything else. Let’s give thanks for those who look after our churches today – here’s my lovely wardens (Patrick, Michele, Peter and David).

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Nottingham – St Barnabas RC Cathedral

I had an email a few weeks ago from +Libby, the new Bishop of Derby, asking if I could go to the 175th anniversary service of St Barnabas Catholic Cathedral in Nottingham (the delights of being Diocesan Ecumenical Officer). Friday evening 7 June 2019, and the weather was not good – I really don’t want to drive down the A52 and go to a service of Solemn Vespers. Mutter, mutter. I followed the sat nav, found somewhere to park, and was welcomed by name when I entered the Cathedral – and it was worth entering.

The service was lovely. The music was excellent, a choir of young people, many university students I should imagine – have a look at their excellent website One of the clergy had the title of “Bishop’s Chaplain and Diocesan Master of Ceremonies” – I want his job. What took me back was the all-male procession, how life used to be 25 years ago! (Only the Catholics were processing). They had welcomed lots of Ecumenical people and, as the Catholic Diocese covers a large area, lots of VIPs. Best of all, the service was over in 47 minutes – the Dean of Leicester and I agreed that no Anglican Cathedral can do a posh service in less than an hour! Then there was time for an explore, and to enjoy the Flower Festival, and some excellent refreshments. The Cathedral’s website is

The church was built in 1844 and the architect was A.W.N. Pugin. When it was built it was the largest Catholic church in England. They have an HLF grant to do a lot of working telling the story, and there are some good events on over the next few months – see Just enjoy the building, the paintwork and the flowers.

Sat at the front I had a good view up into the roof, and the Barnabas banner and flowers.

Lovely flowers around the Cathedral – spot Rolls Royce and the Nottingham Goose Fair.

Pugin’s work comes to the fore in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and there is some lovely glass.

And don’t forget the refreshments.

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Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire

The nice thing about being on holiday not too far from home, is you have time to visit other places on the way home. My plan was the NT property at Wightwick Manor, but when we got there the car park was packed. We continued driving, thinking we’d continue home, perhaps stopping somewhere en route. En route we saw a brown NT sign to Moseley Old Hall, so followed it. We were very glad we did! A nice welcome – Loo and tea room to start with. The Hall was fascinating, garden gorgeous, 2nd Hand bookshop, and I purchased a rose. Several trips were required to get everything to the car.

Henry Pitt built a half-timbered farmhouse in around 1600. He was a Catholic, and built this nice house in a rural area, not far from the main Wolverhampton Stafford road. His daughter Alice married Thomas Whitgreave, a Protestant Royalist, but she (and her children) kept their faith. After Thomas’ death, she managed the estate. The Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651 was a disaster for the Royalist forces fighting for the heir to the crown, Charles II. As the remnants of his defeated army straggled its was past the Hall, she tended to their wounds, and gave refuge to a stranger (who she later discovered was Charles himself). Alice’s son Thomas had fought at Naseby, but was ill and did not fight at Worcester, he agreed to let Charles shelter here. Charles had fled north to Whiteladies, then tried to escape west into Wales, back to Boscobel, then to Mosley. He arrived here on 7 September, and spent much of his time in what is now known as The King’s Room. There was a hiding place in the corner, which might have been very necessary. The King continued down to Bristol, disguised as the servant of Jane Lane, from a Protestant Royalist family who lived at Bentley Hall, four miles from Mosely. From here he escaped to the Continent.

Although the house is no longer half timbered, you can imagine what it felt like on the day the King arrived. The Chapel would have been less visible – too dangerous to be a Catholic, so you put everything out when you need to.

Less than an hour to get home, which means we are not very far from Moseley. Julie had a very large pile of parcels to review for, and there were no phone calls on the answermachine. That must be a first!

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