King’s Lynn, Norfolk – Railway Station

I have been in King’s Lynn on a day trip with brother David, nephew Michael and friend Rad. We were there on a 1957 diesel electric multiple unit. If you would like to find out more about this fascinating unit, have a look at their website. Our thanks to them for maintaining this wonderful train, and for their welcome.

The railway to King’s Lynn opened in 1846, but wasn’t actually connected to Ely until 1848. A line to Narborough opened on the same day (27 October 1846), eventually opening across to Swaffham – now that line is only open as far as Middleton Towers for gravel. After we’d been to Lynn we had a ride down that freight line.

The current station dates to 1871 – Great Eastern Railway. I highly recommend the Great Eastern Railway Society – website. The station was restored in 2013, to roughly 1949 state, with British Railways branding. They did an excellent job.

The GER benches are apparently replicas – if I can’t get a North Eastern Railway bench (see my blog) – I want one of these.

The art work in the loo is interesting – church spotting in the Gents’.

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King’s Lynn, Norfolk – Greyfriars

I am in King’s Lynn for the day – on a historic diesel unit (photos on the next blog … can you contain your excitement?). Greyfriars garden is just a few minutes walk from the Minster – TF 621197 – and I remember going here as a child. On one occasion I dropped a thermos flask – I can still remember the wrath of my mother.

The Franciscan monastery in Lynn was founded in 1235 – and there were 38 friars here 90 years later. Elsewhere in the town were the Blackfriars (the Dominicans), the Whitefriars (Carmelites), and the Austin Friars (the Augustinians). Henry VIII got rid of the lot! The 93 feet high bell tower was constructed in the C15, and survived the dissolution – it was a useful marker for shipping. The other two Greyfriar towers in England are in Coventry and Richmond – we tend to forget just how completely the monasteries were swept away.

A Grade I listed building, it was given a major restoration at the turn of the millennium. The gardens were originally laid out in 1911 to celebrate the coronation of George V, the library dates to 1905 (if Lynn is anything like Derby, that will be the next thing to get swept away), and the war memorial in 1921. 569 died in WW1, only 19 in WW2.

The ugly metal box contains lights that were used for Lynn Lumière in 2015 – will it be used again, or left to spoil the view? The project was funded by the EU – wonder how many folk who enjoyed the lights in 2015 voted to leave in 2016? It puts a whole new meaning to “the lights are going out all over Europe.”


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King’s Lynn, Norfolk – Minster, St Margaret

King’s Lynn Minster or, to give it its full name, The Priory and Parish Church of St Margaret, is run by “The PCC of St Margaret with St Nicholas and St Edmund” – presumably there were other nearby parishes now amalgamated (I did have a smile that anyone has managed to amalgamate an Edmund!). They are currently in the throws of an £845,000 restoration appeal. Good that this will give better disabled access, typical that the meeting room will not be accessible (why would  disabled person ever want to go to a meeting?).

The website is here, and the church is located just up from the Quay – TF 617196. Lynn is a very historic town, and I had arrived on an historic diesel unit, but more of that in the next but one blog. There is a website about the town – here. The Diocese of Norfolk has a website, and produces a free guide to all the historic churches. They are pushing an Open Churches Fortnight (27 July to 12 August). Why can’t all dioceses (including my own) get their act together for the tourist market? – the Derbyshire church visiting website is not as up to date as it needs to be.

Herbert de Losinga was educated at the Benedictine Abbey of Fécamp, became a monk, became Abbot of Ramsey in 1088 (I used to preach at Ramsey Methodist church many years ago). Then he made it known that if he was appointed to the Bishopric of Norwich he would pay a considerable sum into the King’s Treasury. William Rufus became rich, Pope Paschall II summoned Herbert to Rome to explain himself, he became bishop, and funded Norwich Cathedral and this church before his death in 1119. The guidebook describes him as “resolute, possessing political craftiness and guile and immense energy.” In return for Lynn Minster and Norwich Cathedral, I can forgive!

Most of Lynn was built on land owned by the church. Losinga developed it, and town became known as Lynn Episcopi. Henry VIII changed it to Lynn Regis in 1537. Norwich Cathedral was consecrated in 1101, then work began on Lynn church – it was originally dedicated to “St Margaret of Antioch, St Mary Magdalene and all the Virgin Saints”! The oldest part of the church are the west towers, as the rest of it was rebuilt in the C13. By the C16 it was huge, serving both priory and parish. “Over the years since, it has suffered the effects of storm, battle and road widening.” The NW tower needed rebuilding in the C15, and a spire on the SW tower blew down in 1741 destroying the nave – rebuilding was led by Matthew Brettingham, at that time rebuilding Holkham Hall, and both Robert Walpole and George II gave money for repair (repaying what the Exchequer had received from Herbert?).

On the south tower is a tide clock, presented by Thomas Tue in 1683 – you can imagine the merchants and ship owners looking up to check. The lettering reads “Lynn High Tide”, the letters replacing a clock’s normal numbers. Obviously it shows the phases of the moon, and it moves on 48 minutes every day, since lunar time is different to clock time. There are fascinating leaflets available in church, one about this clock, another a general one on clockmaking in King’s Lynn and the Minster church. Apparently mechanical clocks were invented around 1280, and there is a record of a striking clock in Lynn in a Guildhall meeting of 1373. Four years later any townsman summoned by the common sergeant had to appear before the Mayor “before 9 struck by the clokke of St Margaret’s under a penalty of 4 pence.” Thomas Tue was born in November 1613, trained as a gunsmith, and used his skills to start making clocks. Several of his domestic clocks, lantern clocks, survive. He purchased the freedom of Lynn in 1661/2, and was churchwarden of St Margaret’s in 1674 and again in 1681 – in 1681 he gave the clock to St Margaret’s, and this tide clock to St Margaret’s, and a clock at St James Chapel. While the other two have gone, this one survives. The leaflet is insistent the original was not a “tide clock”, but a moon clock – it was rebuilt after the 1741 storm. The leaflet suggests that Tue must have been a competent mathematician as well as a clock maker. His wife died in 1689 at the age of 79 – he survived until 1710, dying at the age of 98.

As you enter the church there are markings of flood levels – the 2013 surge tide was higher than that of 1978 but the defences are higher. The view down the Nave is long, 80 yards to the Rose Window. The Edmund Chapel in the south tower has a Peace Globe made by William Cordaroy of East Ruston.

The Great West Window is worth looking up at. C15 stone work, 1927 window, commissioner by Col Thomas Johnson Seppings, a member of a local brewing family. A the top are the emblems of the Passion, then various coats of arms relating to church and town. Our Lord is in the centre, surround by angels and saints – Edmund, Nicholas, John, Mary, George and Margaret. Scene from the history of Lynn across the bottom, with some wonderful angels. The chest was made in Gdansk in Poland, and was here by 1454.

The present pulpit was the top part of the Georgian 3-decker pulpit mounted on a new plinth. I bet it would have been very impressive when it was that tall. The wood carving and marquetry is exceptional.

This memorial is to Sir William Hoste, who joined Nelson’s navy in 1793, climbed through the ranks, and married Lady Harriet Walpole in 1817. Apparently he encouraged his men to play cricket when they were not fighting the French, and there is still a “Hoste” cricket club in the island of Viz, off the Croatian coast.

The King John Sword is carried before the Mayor or the Queen’s representative at all Civic services, and then rests of this stand. The tradition goes back to “1446 Aug. 5th. Ordered ye same day, yt the sword of ye Mayor shall be carried before him point upward or erect.”

The Nave altar is a gift from the RAF Association showing the town’s close links with RAF Marham. It dates to the 1960s (you can tell). A simple table of aluminium, it “stands in a sanctuary of blue brick set out to represent a Lancaster bomber.” Am I the only one who finds that symbolism sits uneasily with celebrating the sacrifice of the Prince of Peace? Moving quickly on –  the Easter Garden under the altar works very well.

As you can see, the Chancel has the builders in. We will come back when they have finished!  The organ is by Snetzler (1754), the East Window 1866, the reredos 1899, and there are misericords. We are planning a Norfolk holiday in July – might be a little soon!

There are some large brasses in the south aisle of the Chancel – the light was in the wrong place, the work made life difficult. Add those to the list for the summer as well.

Another view down the Nave, and out into the churchyard. Nice rows of gravestones, but no where to sit and eat lunch. A church to come back to.


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Selby, Yorkshire – Selby Abbey, St Mary & St Germain

Selby Abbey, the parish church of St Mary the Virgin and St Germain is at the centre of this little Yorkshire town – SE 615324. It has a good website. We met our friends Jean and Adrian there on 20 April, and found disabled access is on the south side, clearly signposted.

In the north transept is a little shop and café – where else do you start? A very nice, full colour, Jarrold guidebook – a Pilgrim’s Guide (a simple A4 sheet with a little about each section and an appropriate prayer), a “What Christians believe” sheet, a children’s guide, and a sheet pointing out that Simon Jenkins England’s Thousand Best Churches  says “Selby’s glory is that of a stately old lady, retired to the country with her dignity and memories intact.” Please could someone make an app of these churches? Selby was a station on the East Coast Railway Line until a diversion was built in the early 1980s as they started excavating the huge coalfield – excavation that last less than 20 years and produced a quarter of the coal it was going to. Let’s have a railway poster.

We spent several years living in the middle of a Benedictine Abbey (Bury St Edmunds) – this was a similar sized one. It would have been an amazing place. Shortly after the Norman Conquest a monk called Benedict experienced a vision in Auxerre Abbey and received instructions from St Germain to go to Selby and build an Abbey. Germain was a French nobleman and soldier, born about 378 AD, who became a Christian in 418, then Bishop of Auxerre, and visited England twice. When Benedict came, there was a small Anglo-Viking settlement here, the area was not willing to bend to Norman rule (despite the fact that Henry, William the Conqueror’s youngest son was born here in 1068 (his mother was Queen Matilda)). William had founded the abbey at Battle, so to found an abbey in Selby would be a sensible move. This window in the North Transept is a St Germain window, showing lots of the stories of his life. It is an early C20 window, and there are close up photos here.

The original church was wooden, a stone one was built by Abbot Hugh in the early C12. The stone came from Monk Fryston, about 8 miles away. Apparently the first thing they did was build a canal – that would be an interesting research project.

Abbot Hugh got the church built at speed – by the time of his death only the Nave needed finishing. Can you imagine starting a building project today, knowing that it wouldn’t be finished in your lifetime? Let’s start with an exploration of the east end – I walked slowly along the north aisle. There’s a fascinating leper squint, but that is not easy to photo. An interesting selection of War Memorials – David Wilkerson was a Wing Commander, DFC, and a member of the congregation here. The details are here. Above is a fascinating WW1 window, with some interesting images. The crucified Christ is almost the same as the one at Slaley – see this blog – and I’m sure I’ve seen the Chaplain image somewhere before.

I failed to photo a window which has the original stars, as in stars and stripes – have a look here. I enjoyed these lovely carvings – how do you carve so beautifully, and how do you carve inside a carving? There was a major fire in 1906. To quote the guidebook “The central tower looked like a huge chimney as smoke poured out, bells came crashing down and molten lead poured like streams of silver. … The choir lay open to the sky, charred beams were all that was left of the roof of the nave. The choir screen, like most of the ancient previously carved timber, lay in ashes.” Thank goodness that they had the vision to rebuild. I think the mason was Tom Strudwick, obviously an incredibly talented man.

This is a charred roof boss from the fire. The Chapel of the Resurrection, at the east end of the North Aisle, has a fine French C17 altar cloth.

The East Window is a Jesse Window – to quote the website – “The Jesse Window at Selby Abbey is generally thought to be the second finest window in England (the West Window of York Minster being the first).” I am watching TV as I type this and we have the adverts – “99% of 159 women believe …”. Whether it is the second finest window or not may be debateable, but it is certainly a gorgeous window, sadly not easy to photograph. It dates to 1340 – what an incredible achievement. How did they make it, how did they produce the glass, how did they build it? I need to find a History of Art course that covers the history of stained glass – any recommendations? Jesse sleeps at the bottom, and the whole of Jesus’ family tree reaches up from him. King David with his harp, right up to Mary at the top.

They had produced some excellent displays with an Easter theme – never a bad idea to remind us that there are not just historic buildings, but we are there to tell the story of Christ, the story of faith. Simple ideas – must do something similar next year.

Going back to the history of this lovely church – the rest of the church was finished by the early C13. Some of the arches are good solid Norman, later ones are more complex and elegant Early English. The Abbey was rich – wealthy benefactors, rents, tolls to cross the Ouse, wool, markets and fairs. Henry VIII wanted this wealth – the first Act to close the monasteries dates to 1535, and many of the smaller ones succumbed. On 8 December 139 five of Henry’s commissioners were staying in Selby and wrote: “we have dissolved the houses of Hampole, Fountaunce, Sancte Maries in Yowrke, Nonappleton and Selby”. Land was confiscated, valuables seized, buildings demolished, but the church survived as the town’s parish church. However the financial resources were no longer there, and maintaining the structure was impossible. During the Civil War, the Royalist army used the Church to barrack troops and stable horses – that line in the guidebook surprises me; we often hear of Cromwellian troops stabling in church, I would not have expected that of Royalist troops. In 1690 the upper part of the central tower collapsed, it was repaired, but for many years services were held in the quire while the nave was used as a store for the market stalls.

In 1871 George Gilbert Scott was appointed to start the restoration of the Nave, John Oldrid Scott (his son, and brother of the other George Gilbert Scott) supervised work on the quire in 1890. Then there was the 1906 fire, and John Oldrid Scott led the work to rebuild after that. Work has continued, and now there is another appeal – click here.

The quire (I was always told that a choir is what sings and a quire is where they sing) is rather dominated by the High Altar – a replacement for the one destroyed in 1906, by John Oldrid Scott and Peter Rendl – must admit, I would prefer to see the East Window. All the woodwork is post-1906 as well. Lovely carvings high in the roof.

A wooden chair, and a window dedicated to Victoria and Albert. At the bottom of the left side panel is a steam engine – and my camera failed to focus on it.  Here is a cropped version of the main window. We have spotted train windows at Byrness, Chesterfield, Cadeby – I feel a PhD coming on. My current plan for an MA dissertation is something to do with the rise of the railways, church tourism, and guidebooks – and Selby Abbey has a collection of previous guides on display.

Making our way down into the Nave, enjoy this lovely memorial tablet – Brian digs the ashes holes at St Edmund’s and Pete the graves at St Matthew’s, they both deserve memorials when their time comes. Look up at the Nave, enjoy the shapes, and wonder at the workmen who built it all.

They have a good Easter Garden, and what a brilliant idea to use previous Paschal Candles in a display. You usually end up with a large, half burned candle – no one dares throw it away, so it gets dumped in a cupboard to gather dust. When we were at the Cathedral a young Gareth had a candle making phase. The Vergers gave him a whole pile of half used candles and he melted them down to re-use. One of his candles was our 9/11 candle. That is a long time ago!

Various other tombs and memorials. Abbot Barwick (abbot 1522-26),  Abbot Lawrence Selby and Abbot John de Shireburn (same picture, I think),  Hugh de Pickworth on one side of the nave and his wife Margery on the other, and Lord Darcy, High Steward of Selby Abbey who was executed for opposing Henry VIII during the Reformation. One hopes the Paschal Candles shine for him.

Let’s finish this lovely church with a Green Man, high in the roof.


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Rushton, Northamptonshire – Rushton Triangular Lodge

Rushton Triangular Lodge is an English Heritage property in Northamptonshire just north of the A14 – website. It is at grid ref  SP 830830, and on the OS map it is most definitely a triangle. There were 360 degree views on this BBC site – here – but this has not been kept up to date. (Our MA course goes on about the importance of “digital” – but so much digital stuff has died (the Betjeman Best Churches app and pages on the BBC website, to name but two) I find myself being somewhat sceptical).

I had been in Ely overnight and needed a break from a hideous Friday afternoon drive home – shame they don’t have a coffee machine in the custodian’s hut. You can see the Lodge from the Midland Main Line, on your left as you head north from Kettering station. Let’s start with a photo that shows how triangular it is (that’s a stupid comment, but you know what I mean), then each of the three sides (South-East, North and South-West), and one of the hut and the railway taken from inside.

The Lodge was built between 1594 and 1596 by Sir Thomas Tresham (1543/4-1605). He was a Catholic, living in Protestant England. Elizabeth I’s government regarded people like him with great suspicion, and he spent 12 years away from home – imprisoned or detained for his faith. He was allowed to return home in 1593 and built this Lodge as an assertion of his faith. It expresses the mystery of the Holy Trinity – One in Three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As the guidebook says “the Lodge is a stone hymn to the number three.” What also appealed was the fact that his family’s coat of arms included a group of trefoils, another pun on the family name. More important, I’m sure, was his belief in a miraculous event – when he was in prison in Ely in 1590, he and his servants were reading a treatise on the proofs of the existence of God. Suddenly, he noted, “there was, upon a wainscot table at that instance three loud knocks (as if it had been with an iron hammer) given, to the great amazing of me and my two servants”.

Let’s start with the South-East front. Above the entrance are the numbers 5555 and the inscription “Tres testimonium dant”. 55 could be a cryptogram for ‘Jesus Maria’, and the other 55 for ‘Salus Mundi’ (Saviour of the World). Or it could be a date – it was believed that 3962 BC was the date the world was created. Add 5555 and you get 1593. 15 is on this front, 93 on the next. The inscription above the first floor windows spells “Mentes” – as you follow all three sides you get ‘Mentes Tuorum Visita’, ‘Visit the minds of thy people”, which is the second line of the hymn ‘Veni Creator Spiritus”. The inscription in the frieze below the gables reads “Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem”, ‘Let the earth open and bring forth a saviour’ (Isaiah 45.8). Enjoy the shapes and the carvings as well.

On the North Front the inscription is “Quis separabit nos a charitate Christi”, you can probably translate this yourself – if not, look up Romans 8.35.

On the South-West Front the TT stands for Thomas Tresham, and “Consideravi opera tua Domine et expavi”, ‘I have considered thy works, Lord, and been afraid’ (Hab 3.2). We also have a dove on the head of a serpent coiled around a globe (top left) and a hand issuing from the sun and touching the earth (top right). The dove was released from the ark by Noah, and was later a symbol of Mary. Her Son crushed the serpent’s head.

Inside is fascinating too – well worth a poke round.

You can read the full Listing here. You can also read the BBC Countryfile site here, but the photo is not the Triangular Lodge (another triumph of digital accuracy). Yet there is so much that could be done to take all the text and symbolism to explain it and expand it – I could do something with these photos for Trinity Sunday, and add in various pieces of contemporary art. I shall add it to the list of wonderful things I can do when I retire. My brother says he has seen an image of the Lodge with the railway and an overhead ropeway for gravel working. I searched online for “Rushton + Railway” and got Willie Rushton reading Rev Awdry’s railway stories. Anyone got any ideas?

There is a leaflet about a Tresham Trail around several other buildings in the area – this is an area I need to explore. Many years ago Dad followed the Fosse Way from Lincoln to Exeter, perhaps I should follow the A14. Googlemaps (a useful piece of digital) told me the M1 was jammed too, so I had a lovely country drive north to Nottingham and home for a wedding rehearsal.




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Baslow, Derbyshire – St Anne

On Easter Monday (2 April 2018) we had been to Sheffield so I could give platelets. It was a rather grotty day, but we drove back via the Peak District. St Anne’s church Baslow is in the middle of a popular Derbyshire village SK252722, on the River Derwent. When I eventually get back to the Derwent Valley Way I will walk through it. I could also do the Peak Pilgrimage – website – and visit it. So why is there no church guidebook? There have all the information on the church website so print it off, and charge a couple of quid for it! They had an art/poster exhibition around the village entitled “One Friday”, getting people to think about Good Friday – it wasn’t the weather to explore, but I picked up the booklet about it. A 72 page church magazine, excellently produced.The original church is C13, and the bridge is the old packhorse bridge (I should have taken a closer look). The website reminds us the church is dedicated to Jesus’s grandmother – I like the idea of granny’s church! The tower and spire are at the west end of the north aisle, which is unusual – the north aisle was probably the original nave, and the current nave is C15.

There is a C13 grave slab in the porch which I failed to photo, and a nice lead memorial with feet that I did. Nice Easter garden too, and a dog whip just inside the door. Apparently his job was “to whip the dogs, which had followed their masters, out of the church, and generally to look after the orderly behaviour of both bipeds and quadrupeds during Divine Service.”  I’ve only ever had guide dogs in churches, and they are always well-behaved.

A Victorian restoration – it looks a very Victorian pulpit. Older font with nice Easter flowers, and I like the streamlined microphone – so many church PA systems have technology that looks like it comes from the ark.

The chancel was rebuilt in 1911 to celebrate the coronation of George V – much of it made by Mr Advent Hunstone of Tideswell. I like the altar frontal, wood and window. Nice making of a room to the north side of it.

A rather feminine St Martin in a window, and the WW1 Memorials are nearby. Has anyone researched the history of these men? Interesting thought – how do we make sure the research that has been done in the last few years is not lost? I know that in Darley Abbey there are articles in previous church magazines, but who will look at them in 50 years time?

Moving outside, it is a rather nice porch. Why is one headstone back to front compared to the next one?

The clock is by Smiths of Derby, and dates to 1897. One dial comes from an earlier clock, so has an earlier date, the other is a Royalist celebration.

I must come back when the weather is better and enjoy the village.



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Derby – Chapel of St Mary on the Bridge

Tuesday 6 February. After a morning at University studying for the MA in Public History and Heritage, I went to do some in depth research – a public service in a heritage building. Box ticked! The Bridge Chapel in Derby, or The Chapel of St Mary on the Bridge, stands beside St Mary’s bridge – grid reference SK 353368. I have walked past it regularly – it is a lovely walk from home, down through Darley Park, under St Mary’s bridge, and into town. It is cared for by Derby Cathedral, and is open for regular services, heritage open days and other occasions – according to the Cathedral magazine I’ve just (11 March) read it is open from 2 to 4 pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays from the last Tuesday to April to the last Saturday in September (so now you know). It is a shame the inner ring road is quite so close – and whoever gave permission for the hideous Jury’s Inn?

There are five other bridge chapels still standing in England – Wakefield, Rotherham, St Ives (Cambridgeshire – I remember mum and dad taking me to that one), Rochester and Bradford-on-Avon. Remains of one exist at Cromford – must go and explore. A chapel has existed in Derby since the late C13, although this building is about a century later. Records show that the anchoress, Agnes Waly, withdrew to her cell here on 3 January 1370 – for details of an anchoress, see my post.

In 1488 John Dale was the priest, and by this time the chapel had become enriched by the gifts of many benefactors. It also housed the figure of “The Black Virgin of Derby”, an object of pilgrimage, second only to the shrine of St Alkmund at Duffield. The chapel was closed at the Reformation, and handed back to the burgesses of Derby in 1554. In the C17 it was used as a meeting place by local Presbyterians, then was converted into cottages.

In 1794 the current St Mary’s bridge was built – designed by the architect Thomas Harrison. Born in Lancaster, he is notable for Lancaster and Chester castles, various other bridges, and one or two churches. The new bridge was a few feet upstream, so physically separate from the chapel. It was used as a workshop, then as a Sunday School for St Alkmund’s church, then as a workshop again. By the 1920s it was in a very poor condition.

Now it is beautiful. I walked in, and realised that when they describe it as a “gem”, they are right. I climbed up to the gallery to take a photo, had an explore with the camera, then led the Requiem Eucharist. There were five of us there – myself, a Verger, two regulars and a visitor. I hope they ask me again – a very special place to celebrate. The chapel is also used by the Orthodox Community, so I signed the service register after an “Arch Priest”.

The altar was designed by Ronald Pope, and is made from Derbyshire stone quarried at Birchover. It was installed in 1973. On its base are letters IMMR standing for Jesus Mater Maria Regina, and waves symbolising the Derwent. Pope also made the frame surrounding the medieval figure of Jesus. The wooden statue of Our Lady of Walsingham is by Anton Wagner, and was installed in 1983. The hatchment displays the arms of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria. The question is “Why?”

The East Window was installed in 1973 in memory of Sean Ferguson. It was designed by Mary Dobson. Each panel alludes to some specific aspect of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The octagonal shape of the top two lights represents the enclosed garden on the soul, swallows are harbinger of the summer (Mary the harbinger of the Incarnation), 12 stars which crowned the Woman of the Apocalypse, a unicorn as a symbol of virginity (who knew that?), a gateway, an ivory tower, a cat (there is a legend that a cat gave birth to a litter of kittens in the stable at Bethlehem on the night of the Nativity (who knew that?)), rays of light symbolising the resurrection, and a lily. In the lily you can see a caterpillar and a butterfly – Sean Ferguson’s favourite metaphor of death and resurrection. (We had The Very Hungry Caterpillar read at our Theo’s funeral).  In the bottom lights we have the Mystic Rose, the Fountain, the Lily and the Star of the Sea. Beautiful. The window in the south wall dates to 1932, and the glass is the work of Richard John Stubington.

On the wall of the chapel is a memorial to the Padley Martyrs. Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlam were arrested at Padley Manor near Hathersage. They were brought to Derby, and executed along with Richard Simpson, on 24 July 1588 – they were hanged, drawn and quartered. The following day their remains were exhibited close to the Chapel. It was the time of the Spanish Armada, feelings were running high, and their fate was sealed. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Inside the chapel is a memorial to those who ensured the Chapel was repaired and restored. It is also rather nice that they have produced a booklet entitled “From Eyesore to Medieval Gem; the men who saved the Bridge Chapel”. Thank you to them, and to all who care for, donate to, and repair our beautiful churches. I hope and pray that any northernvicar in the 22nd century will be able to look back at the 21st century and find people who continue to care for, donate to, and repair our beautiful churches – and not just see a century where people decided they were surplus to requirements and a drain on our resources.

I walked home – education this morning, spiritual refreshment at lunchtime, an afternoon walk, and choir in the evening. What more can a man ask from life?



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Cambridge – American Military Cemetery

We drove out of Cambridge, past my old home in Barton,  then up to Comberton, Madingley Road and the American Cemetery.

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial is place which I have never visited, despite all my years living less than ten miles away. The website is here – and you can see it is run by the American Battle Monuments Commission. You might want to ponder why they have a “Battle Monuments Commission” and we have the “Commonwealth War Graves Commission”. It is just beside the old A45, the A1303, west of Cambridge, grid reference TL 405595.

The first thing that grabs your attention is a huge flagpole. The site wasn’t very lively on a cold January afternoon, but there was an open Visitors’ Centre with displays, films and panels – we could, and should, have spent a lot longer there. I sat and pondered afterwards – thanks Rob for the photo (and for others on this blog).

The cemetery was built after the Second World War, on land given by the University of Cambridge. 3,812 Americans are buried here – men (I assume they are all men, I can’t see any mention of women in the guide) who served in the Battle of the Atlantic, who flew from the airfields of East Anglia, and fought into Europe. In the seven areas of the cemetery there are 24 unknown people, 80 Jews who have the Star of David, and 3,732 with a Latin Cross. The backs of the headstones are marked with the service number of those who have died.

On the south side of the cemetery the Great Mall stretches from the flagpole to the Memorial Building. Along the south side is the Wall of the Missing. It names 5,127 lost, missing, or buried at sea. Bronze rosettes identify those whose remains have subsequently been recovered and identified. Four statues – a soldier, airman, sailor, and Coast Guardsman – stand guard. One of the names, Alton G., is Glen Miller, Major, US Army Forces, who vanished on 15 December 1944.

The Memorial Building is built from Portland Stone. On the south side is a map of the United Kingdom depicting each location where an American unit of battalion size or larger was stationed during WW2. The map is 30 feet long and 18 feet wide. You can see how many bases there were in Suffolk. There is a lovely book by John Appleby called Suffolk Summer – details here. He was an American serviceman who explored Suffolk, and its churches, in the last summer of WW2. I haven’t read it for a few years – have a look here for more information. The main doors are made of teakwood, with bronze representations of military equipment and naval vessels.

The mosaic inside is what gave me the wow-factor as I entered the Hall. It is by the American Francis Scott Bradford and depicts the Archangel trumpeting the arrival of the Resurrection, with the Last Judgement on the wall behind the altar. On the ceiling itself we have “ghostly aircraft accompanied by mourning angels making their final flight” to quote the guide. “The deep blue of the ceiling denotes the depth of infinity, while lighter colors reflect the light of Heaven breaking through the earthly layers of the sky. A lighter nimbus surrounding each of the single-engine, twin-engine and four-engine aircraft separates the from earthly forces whole they carry the souls of the men who perished in the skies.”

The map on the south wall is entitled “The Mastery of the Atlantic – the Great Air Assault”. It was designed by the American artist Herbert Gute from data prepared by the American Battle Monuments Commission. It shows the principal sea routes across the Atlantic, and depicts aircraft which operated in the anti-submarine campaign and the Strategic Bombing Campaign by the USAF and RAF. Air lanes indicate routes from the UK and Italy to various targets. Having pondered on A Matter of Life and Death as I looked at the ceiling and the depictions of ghostly planes, I pondered Casablanca as I looked at this map.

On the north wall are emblems from all the different states – Kentucky and California caught my eye. (Especially the warmth of California on a January day, and on a snowy day in February when I’m writing this up).

By the entrance a notice said that at 4.30 the flag would be lowered. I wondered if there would be a cohort of Marines (I’ve been watching too much West Wing), but a chap came out of his office and said “hello”. Where were we from? What did I do? Did I want to help him take down the flag? I felt honoured (correct spelling, I’m English, not American) – even if, at one point, I seemed to be raising the flag rather than lowering it! I then helped to fold it, and it is a large flag. In the current age, where it is difficult to feel much connection to the USA and little sympathy for their President (and I hope any Americans who read this blog will not take offence), it was a very special moment. Here is Julie – northernreader – wheeling away.

Next time I watch a war time film (even if it’s one of those where the Americans won the War – the sort that really annoyed my father-in-law), or the lovely Dad’s Army where the Americans turn up (“you were late for the last war, and you’re late for this one”), or a funeral ends with Glen Miller’s music, I will remember my visit to this place.

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Chesterton, Cambridge – St Andrew

This wall played an important part in the Second World War (or at least a wall like it). I believe that my grandad, Albert Barham, was churchwarden of St Andrew’s church in Chesterton. He was a manager at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, so remained at home. Family tradition says that one of the jobs he did was as Fire Warden, based at the church. My uncle Derrick was a teenager, my dad Jeffrey a bit younger. They would offer to test the stirrup pumps. The churchyard wall was a favourite spot for American troops to say “good night” to their girlfriends. Many an American serviceman had his ardour dampened by my uncle, my dad, and their stirrup pump.

Friend Rob and I visited on Tuesday 23 January while our wives were spending money in town. We arrived as a midweek Communion service was taking place, so sat at the back and read the information folder, before we said Hello. I was hoping someone might have remembered grandad, but as he died in 1965 that was probably unlikely. We then got working with our cameras – the best photos are those taken by Rob. The church has an excellent website. Its OS grid reference is TL 463596.

Chesterton  Cestretone, is the settlement by the Roman town. There is no mention of a church in Doomsday, but “a priest has one virgate of land”. The list of Rectors goes back to 1200, the manor belonged to the King, most of the inhabitants probably serfs who worked for the Governor of the Castle. In 1216 England seemed to be on the verge of civil war. The pope sent his legate, Cardinal Guala, to England to try and pacify the Kingdom. He was successful, and on 8 November 1216 was presented with the church and living. He then presented it to Vercelli Abbey near Milan, so the Abbey became the Rector and held the benefice for 200 years. His portrait hangs in the church.

The church was rebuilt in the Early English style in about 1250, and there was another rebuilding about 80 years later when the spire was added. The Chancel was rebuilt in the C15, the North aisle extended, and the north porch added. Here is the porch with automatic door, northern vicar, and a van from Smith’s Clocks of Derby.

When you stand in the nave and look up, the Doom painting catches your eye. It was painted around the giant rood (or cross) that was the focal point of every parish church before the Reformation. There is a lovely Doom at Penn in Buckinghamshire, see this blog. In the top panel, now limewashed, was Christ in Majesty (visible still in the early C19), beneath him are the saved and the damned. A faded St Peter welcomes the just into the celestial city  on our left, whilst on our right a red flat-footed devil tugs one unfortunate soul towards his destiny, whilst below a yellow devil transports his victim piggy-back. Kings, popes and monks are among the condemned. It must have been painted over at the Reformation, and the guide doesn’t say when it was unveiled again. It is rather special – enjoy the photos (they are mainly Rob’s). The history page of the website is excellent. I like the history of the church in a hundred objects.

There is some lovely woodwork. You can work out which of the pew ends are original and which are Victorian copies. A nice fisherman as well – presumably Andrew, not Peter.

The East Window is rather lovely, but I can’t find any more details on the website. Rob got some good close-ups (I still need him to give me a lesson on photoing stained glass).

The Mansel window is at the east end of the south aisle. It was commissioned by William Lord Mansel, who was Vicar here 1788-1808. He was also Master of Trinity from 1798 to 1820 and Bishop of Bristol 1808-20. I love the idea of being Master of a Cambridge College and Bishop of Bristol, especially in the days before the Great Western. “He was a renowned wit, mimic and satirist – but, in revolutionary days, was also conservative, orthodox and a safe pair of hands, trusted by William Pitt and his government.” The window was installed in memory of his wife Isabella, who died in 1803 at the age of 36, the mother of 12 children. In the bottom panel you can see the day of Pentecost. The guide notes that Mary is present, perhaps an affirmation of Isabella’s role.

The Smedley window was commissioned by Edward Arthur Smedley, vicar 1836 and 1873. We have Adam, Abraham and Jacob. It was designed by Gilbert Scott, father of the C20 architect who designed the red telephone box and Cambridge University Library. The window dates to 1873.

This window (below left), at the south-east end of the south aisle, was installed by Samuel Perry (Vicar 1874-90) in memory of his first wife and child, who both died following the child’s birth. Mary died on 3 May 1875 aged 3 days, Frances died the following day aged 35, Samuel died in 1897 aged 55. The glass is by Ward and Hughes, a London firm that pioneered the use of pot-metal coloured glass, an appearance that harked back to the glory days of the medieval period. I like the Epiphany window (below right), though there is no mention of whom made it. The Wragg window (below centre), in memory of Francis Wragg, who died in 1884.

Under the tower we have some lovely peal boards – I hoped “Albert Barham, Churchwarden” might have appeared – and a rather fun carving.

The South aisle chapel is dedicated to all those who died in WW1. Alec Johnson was from the family of John Johnson who for many generations ran a tailors’ shop in central Cambridge. His cousin was the actress Celia Johnson, who played Laura Jesson in Brief Encounter. The war memorial is outside, and we’ll end our visit to the interior of the church with an angel.

On the north wall of the church (just outside and to the east of the porch) is a plaque remembering “Anna Maria Vassa, daughter of Gustavus Vassa, the African. She died July 21 1797 aged 4 years.” Her father, who also bore the name Olaudah Equiano, was living in Nigeria when he was captured from his village at the age of 11 and sold into slavery. He was taken to Virginia, then sold to a ship’s captain. After 16 years he managed to save enough money and buy his freedom. He eventually came to England and wrote a book abut his experiences which became a best-seller and turned many people against slavery.

There are some lovely gravestones in the churchyard, but I wasn’t going to have a long walk round – and we have had quite a lot of photos!

It was a pleasure exploring this church. I don’t remember grandad as I was two when he died, although I do remember Nana (Frances Mary Barham) – she died 1979 or thereabouts. Nana Tin we called her, as she had a biscuit tin with the Panorama of London on. (The other granny was Nana Brum, as she had a car). May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

My sister-in-law, with her role as family archivist, has found me this photo of Albert and Frances.

Samuel Pepys visited Chesterton on 25 May 1668. He wrote “walked to Chesterton to see our old walk; and there into the Church, the bells ringing, and saw the place I used to sit, and so to the ferry, and ferried over to the other side and walked with great pleasure, the river being mighty high by Barnwell Abbey; and so by Jesus College to the town …”. We walked back into town via Jesus College, and let’s finish with a curiosity – on the south bank of the Cam, not far from the church and the Cambridge Museum of Technology is this post box. It has no Royal cipher. Can anyone tell me why not?


Posted in Cambridgeshire, Personal, World War 1 | 2 Comments

Greystoke, Cumbria – St Andrew

We drove back along Ullswater to Pooley Bridge, then cut north across the A66 and to the village of Greystoke and St Andrew’s church – NY 443307. Quite a sizeable village and, to quote Pevsner, “a major church, broad but markedly deficient in height.” An early church here, perhaps linked to the Castle which was apparently built by the Viking leader Lyulph, was re-founded as a collegiate church (one of only two in the region) in 1382, perhaps a response to the Black Death, which carried off half the English clergy. Then it had a master, seven chaplains, and six chantry priests. Now it is in a benefice with three other churches – website.

The church looks C16 or even C17 – there was a Chancel repair in 1645, and restorations of 1818 and 1848. The tower was certain re-clad, if not re-built, in 1848. We parked by the rather nice gate post, and entered.

You enter by the north door, and your eye is drawn to the tent in the south aisle. I quite understand why a heated tent with seats for the congregation, all together in one place, is so much better than a dozen people scattered across a huge, freezing church – but I’m not sure I would want to worship here. I suppose it would be much more expensive to get permission to close off the Chancel to make a warm room, or do something with one of the chapels – perhaps the tent is the best idea. Or is it time to hand the whole pile to the Churches Conservation Trust, and join with the local non-conformist chapel? I wish I knew the answer.

At last we have a decent guidebook, and a welcome leaflet. “We hope you will enjoy you visit to our church. [I’m not a fan of “our church”, but at least the text continues …] This building is open to everyone of any faith or none, to explore and enjoy.” It contains an invitation to the 9.15 service which takes place every Sunday (same time each week is so much easier) , and it also suggests that St Kentingern’s church at Mungrisdale, St Andrew’s church at Dacre and Matterdale church are all worth visiting. Joined up thinking! Alleluia!!!!! The guidebook suggests that each aisle would originally have been taken up with Chantry Chapels – so there’s the precedent they need fot the DAC when they try and replace the tent with a chapel. Imagine how busy a place like this would have been before the Reformation – constant masses being said in each of the chapels – and wonder what we lost. You can see the size of the Nave from these photos.

The rood beam, which bridges the Chancel arch, is probably the oldest thing in the church, and carries floral emblems representing the five wounds of Christ, and a selection of angels. There is some old woodwork in the Chancel itself, and I missed the misericords. The East window is a collection of medieval glass. Legend has it that it was removed in haste and buried as Cromwell approached, then restored in 1848. “The restorers had difficulty in reassembling the pieces of glass in the original order and, where pieces were missing, they substituted pieces from the other windows which had been shattered by Cromwell’s men.” Note the red devil between the feet of a bishop.

We have an old sedilia in the south wall of the Chancel, and the Baron William and his grandson John lie in effigy in a recess in the Chancel which once housed the tomb of John Dacre, the last Provost of the medieval college. William is dressed like the Black Prince at Canterbury. Apparently the effigies were in the churchyard for 250 years, hence the water marks and the broken alabaster – the leaflet says that alabaster was used by local farmers for rubbing on sheep scab and for sharpening scythes.

I think that all the other glass I photoed is Victorian. I like the various images in this one of  Jesus teaching, with a child who is not concentrating on his words.


The Resurrection window in the north wall by the organ is by Charles Kempe., and we have the fountain of life, peacock-feathered angels, Jerusalem in the background, Mary, and is that the casket of myrrh the three wise men gave thirty years earlier? I often wonder if the women were carrying it on the Sunday morning, and what happened to it when the tomb was empty.

There are some fascinating hatchments and memorials – you guessed it, the one I will look up is the South Mahratta Railway in India. It was formed on 1 June 1882, and its first line was a metre gauge line 40 miles long from Bellary to Hospet. It opened in 1884. Twso years later the Mysore State Railway came into the company. In 1888 the line was extended towards Portuguese Goa, and a line ran from coast to coast. Then it merged with the Madras Railway. I went to an York University Institute of Railway Studies talk a few years ago on the links between British and Indian Railway Companies – fascinating.


The Madonna and Child was carved by two German PoWs, and painted by a third. They were stationed at the Castle at the end of WW2, but their names are not given in the guide. They simply worked with a penknife on a lump of holly root given by the Rector. The crucified Christ is the work of Josephine de Vascanellos. It represents the words of Jesus to the good theif who hung beside him “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” It looks out of the window into the future, from time to eternity. The font is rather nice, but not mentioned.

A quick explore the churchyard, but rather too cold for much more.

Back to Penrith for coffee and to warm up. Clare dropped me at the station for the 1621 Virgin Train to Crewe and London. Signal failure meant we left at 1731. I had a book. We arrived in Crewe at 1908, and they had let the 1907 East Midlands Train to Derby go. Several of us got very cross, but there was no station supervisor and no one gave a damn. Bring back British Rail – it wasn’t perfect, but at least it was one network. The next train to Derby was at 2045. That spoiled a nice day


Posted in Cumbria | 1 Comment