Barton, Cambridgeshire – St Peter

Our 38th wedding anniversary, 3 December 2021. We drove to Barton and parked by the school so I could have an explore of St Peter’s – TL 408557. The village of my childhood. We moved here when I was 9. Lovely that St Peter’s church was open – indeed church, chapel, school and Vicarage, still seemed the same as they were half a century ago. But Mr Law no longer lives in the Vicarage and Miss Mason no longer lives in the School House.

Looking at the church website – https://www.bartonstpeters.org.uk/ – I did not remember that there is a record from 1270 of an Anchoress called Alice living in the church. An anchoress is a lady who withdrew from the world into a small cell, to use her life in prayer and meditation. Most of the church is C14, with the additional of a modern loo and kitchen on the north side – opened in 2005. They could do with a “Church Open” notice.

I remembered the C14 wall paintings, although I’m sure there are more now than were visible in the 1970s. On the north side we have St Michael weighing souls, St Christopher, St Martin on horseback and St Anthony with his pig –  see https://www.porkopolis.org/art-museum/exhibitions/st-anthonys-swine/. There is, apparently, also the only painting in an English church of St Dunstan holding the devil by his nose. We also have the wedding at Cana and the Annunciation. If I was a local artist, it would be wonderful to do some reconstructions (not, I hasten to add, in situ).

I found the brass of 1593 remembering John and Margaret Martin, it’s under the Chancel carpet. I remember rubbing this one wet day when mum was trying to find things for us to do. The font is a C14 lump of clunch with a limestone bowl. The pulpit was originally part of a three-decker pulpit, and is dated 1635. Perhaps one of the things I should do in my 60th year is ask for permission to come and take a service here.

There are four nice stained glass windows. David playing his harp for Saul, Christ on the cross with Mary and John (this is the East Window, installed as a War Memorial), Jesus in the temple (Candlemas), and one of Christ in Majesty (I think) and suffering children.

School services, playing in concerts, happy memories. In the churchyard is the grave of Ron Hoare, who was my oboe teacher for several years. I knew it was there as I went to his funeral, but I had forgotten that was over 20 years ago. I then found the grave of Mr Searle, who became Vicar when I was 16. He died a couple of years ago. The last service I went to in the church was a memorial service for mum in 2010 – so there were a lot of emotions as I revisited this church. I am extremely grateful it was open and I could just wander in. Every church should be open like this.

I also walked down to the Baptist Chapel which was where we normally worshipped. Hard to blog – there isn’t a lot to say about it architecturally, and I couldn’t get inside. I’ve just looked at their website – http://www.bartonbaptistchurch.org/ – and it says the church is closed for Covid. It is also the only church website I have ever found which tells you which buses run to the chapel (do they run on Sundays?). I have a lot to thank them for.

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