Bassenthwaite, Cumbria – St Bega

Clare and I were a bit confused because the church we had just visited didn’t seem to fit the description in Betjeman’s Best British Churches.  A bit of investigation (i.e. the Cambridge Geographer read the map) took us to St Bega’s church, Bassenthwaite – NY 227287. They have the same website as the previous church – here. We parked and walked down to the church.

It was probably a pre-Norman foundation, and was given to the monastery at Jedburgh in the C12. Pevsner says it is disappointing to find it is so Victorian, with the interior by S. Watson of Penrith in 1874. (There is a painting of it, pre-restoration). We were not disappointed! The strange metal thing is an hour-glass stand – I want one!

The Highmore Memorial, probably late C14, is inscribed ‘His jacet Robertus de Hehmur cujus anime propricietur Deus’ (Here lies Robert Highmoor, upon whose soul may God be merciful). Alongside the cross, which stands on a Calvary mound, is shown a knight’s sword. I like the memorial that says Grace was “about her fiftieth year”. The Royal Arms is George II.

I like the East Window – and the lions look very hungry. I liked the photo of the lions (sorry, ladies) of NADFAS handing over their record of the church to Canon Harker in 1992. I wonder if photos of me will look so dated in 26 years time (and I fear I know the answer!).

We went outside and enjoyed the location. I also looked up St Bega – apparently she was a Princess of Ireland, also known as Bee. She fled the Royal Court rather than marry a prince from Norway, and tradition says she was miraculously transported to Cumbria (more fun than Virgin trains). She founded the monastery at St Bees.


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Bassenthwaite, Cumbria – St John

We drove north along the east side of Bassenthwaite, and found St John’s church at NY 229316. The website is here. Pevsner says the church is 1878 by David Brade of Kendal, and describes it as “expensive but ill-proportioned”, though he says the inside is better. It didn’t do a lot for either of us. Tall, must be a pain to heat, and the 1900 stained glass by Clayton & Bell is not particularly inspiring.

What lifted the church for me was this lovely map of the Lake, and the three windows by W. Wilson 1961. I have done some research – there is an article about him:  Images of broken light: William Wilson (1905-1972) The Journal of Stained Glass 2006 (30) pp 140-50

Pevsner describes the font as “a monster block”. The woodwork is rather lovely.

What can we find out about Lieut. Henry Rathbone Hele-Shaw R.F.C, died on the Somme, 19 July 1916, aged 20? There is a little on this blog – Cumbrianwarmemorials. “Henry Hele-Shaw was the only son of Dr Henry and Mrs Ella Hele-Shaw of Westminster, neighbours of Morris & Co. Educated at Marlborough he had just obtained a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge when war broke out. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in late 1915 acting as a ferry pilot before joining 70 squadron where he was very soon wounded. Shortly after re-joining his squadron he was shot down on 25 September 1916.” Just another of that generation of young men who never grew old.


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Crosthwaite, Cumbria – St Kentigern

On Tuesday 9 October I wanted a day with Clare, so braved Virgin Trains to go north. She met me at Penrith station, and we drove west, past Keswick on the bypass, and into Crosthwaite. The church of St Kentigern is by the school – NY 257243, website. It always good to know where the Gas valve is!

St Kentigern, also known as Mungo, is a Scottish saint. He came here in 553 AD and set up his cross in a clearing or ‘thwaite’. There have been several different churches on this site – which remained in Scotland until William Rufus took it for England in 1092. The first written evidence for a church here is one built by Alice de Romelli in about 1190. Apparently traces of it can be seen in the north wall. In 1198 Richard the Lion Heart gave the church to the monks of Fountains Abbey, and there was a rebuilding in the reign of Edward III. The current building dates from 1523, and was heavily restored by Gilbert Scott in 1844.

It is quite some building, not a church you can miss. The sundial is dated 1602. One guide says it is probably the oldest sundial still in place (probably fair enough to say the oldest which isn’t simply a hole and a series of scratches on the wall), a leaflet says it works when the sun shines …. . The tower clock is 1720 – another one with just one hand (see Whalton in Northumberland). A bearded man welcomes you in – that’s a PhD, beards on faces carved on church porches.

The font dates from 1395, and commemorates Sir Thomas of Eskhead. He was Vicar here between about 1374 and 1392, and the inscription asks for prayers for his soul. On the north wall are a series of Consecration Crosses for the 1523 church. There are 12 in all – although every church would have had them, they are rarely seen.

You can see another Consecration Cross next to the War Memorial, there is a Victorian pulpit with impressive floral display, an impressive organ (Bishops of London 1837, enlarged by Jardines of Manchester, rebuilt as a War Memorial in 1920, rebuilt again in 1980), and some sensible (and neat) disabled adaptations.

The East End  has a memorial to Edward Stephenson, late Governor of Bengal, died 1768 – website. The mosaic shows the salmon which retrieved the lost ring of a Scottish queen and bride to be – Kentigern was involved too. The brass work in the reredos was made by the Keswick School of Industrial Arts, which was founded by Mrs Rawnsley. Her husband, Vicar here from 1883 to 1917, is one of the founders of the National Trust. This is on the NT website. (He is buried in the churchyard, but we couldn’t find any sign to his grave). Canon Rawnsley was behind the re-design of the East End with his architect Mr Ferguson. The glass is by Kempe – St Herbert (a local saint) to the north and St Kentigern to the south.

There are quite a lot of other interesting memorials. Thomas Radcliffe and his wife are 1495.

Robert Southey was Poet Laureate and worshipped in this church for 40 years until his death in 1842. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of him – read this website. There is a memorial to him in the church, and his grave is signposted outside. It seems as if money raised in his memory was also a catalyst for the 1844 rebuilding and renovation of the church.

There is a little medieval glass, and quite a lot of Victorian glass – including Jesus with muscles.

Inside the porch were some notices telling us what to see in the graveyard, so we went for an explore of a huge churchyard. A couple of interesting WW1 people, though we didn’t find the nurses’ grave. Apparently the red altar frontal at Carlisle Cathedral was given in memory of Nurse Hermione Lediard – website. (Clare, as mother of a Carlisle chorister, please take note, I expect a photo). [Since writing this, Margaret has been in touch – thank you. Keswick Museum have done some research on all their WW1 dead, and Nurse Lediard has been written about in the Carlisle Cathedral Review 2018 – which also contains a nice photo of my favourite Cathedral chorister. I have asked his mum why she didn’t get me a copy (or know about Nurse Lediard!)].

Percy Ogden has been written up in this blog. “Mr. Percy Ogden, who died at the Military Hospital, Shornecliffe, on June 8th, after a few days illness, was in his 42nd year, and was a lieutenant in the R.F.C. He was the son of the late Thomas Ogden, founder of Ogden’s Ltd., which in 1902 became a branch of the Imperial Tobacco Co. (of Great Britain and Ireland Ltd.). He was a director of the latter company, and of late years he had undertaken charge of its manufacturing operations in this country” (14 June 1917).

I had not realised that Bishop Eric Treacy was buried here. His grave is the other side of the railway line from the church – but I’m sure he’d love to see the Penrith-Keswick Cockermouth line reopened. The line is here – website. The National Railway Museum (though for a reason I can not understand those in charge have dropped the word ‘National’) has a blog about him – here. His work is exceptional – and he was a brilliant parish priest and bishop. May he, and his wife, rest in peace and rise in glory.


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Egginton, Derbyshire – St Wilfrid

Chris and I drove a couple of miles down to St Wilfrid’s church in Egginton – grid reference SK 267278, website. It has a 56 page glossy guidebook. The line of the A38 is a Roman road, and “The farmstead of Ecga” may well have been settled in the C6. Wilfrid, or Wilfrith, was an Anglo-Saxon who lived from 634 to 709. A novice at Lindisfarne, he visited Rome, then received the monastery of Ripon in 661. Later he was Bishop of Hexham.

There was a priest, church and mill here by the time of Domesday. The present Chancel dates to about 1300. For several centuries it was under the care of Dale Abbey, which lasted until 1538. The low west tower must have been built not long before the Reformation. In 1552 the inventory of the church read “Will Babyngton parson. 1 chalis of silver with a paten parcel gilt, 1 pyx of laten, 1 canape, 1 crosse of copper and gilte, 2 candlestycks of brasse, 1 hollywater pan of brasse, 1 bell in the steple, the other 2 were sold for the repayrying of the Moncks’ bridge, 3 odd coopes, 7 vestments, 3 aulter clothes, 2 albes, 3 towels and 1 corporas, 1 lytle hand bell, 1 lytle sacrying bell, 2 crewetts of pewter, 2 syrplesses”.

One of the Babington family was the Roman Catholic Anthony, who had been Mary Queen of Scots’ page when she was held in captivity in Sheffield. He became involved in a plot to murder Elizabeth and replace her with Mary – in 1586 he paid for that with his life. Some of his possessions, including the right of presentation here, were transferred to Sir Walter Raleigh.

During the Civil War, the Every family who owned the village, were Royalists, and there was a skirmish with the Parliamentarians just to the north of the village in March 1644 – the Royalists lost. The family somehow survived, and Sir Henry Every flourished after the Restoration, becoming Deputy Lieutenant and a Justice of the Peace. He was buried in the church in 1700. One of Henry’s sons was Simon, ordained at 28, he fathered six sons and eight daughters, died in 1753 at the age of 93.

The Trent and Mersey Canal was opened by 1776 (I really must have a walk along it sometime soon), the village was enclosed in 1791, and the Turnpike Road became busier. The Monks Bridge has been bypassed, but I need to explore. The Old Hall burned down in 1736, a new one was built. That was derelict  by the middle of the C20, but a new house was built in 1994.

Although the church is now entered through the north door, we went for a walk round the south side. Past two War graves, then I admired the lovely wall, and the gravestone of Mary Ledward “for many years a servant in the family and for the last 30 years the faithful and respected housekeeper to the Revd. John Leigh, Rector of this parish. A grateful master for her fidelity causes this stone to be erected. Words are useless when her character has left her memory behind her. She died in perfect quiet on the 22nd June 1853 aged 84 years.” I wonder how many pastoral crises she handled.

A nice looking church, with an 1893 font under the tower – not the best place for it. I liked the little face.

The Bishop is Edward Francis Every, baptised in this church, Bishop of the Falkland Islands 1902-1910, Bishop in Argentina and Eastern South America 1910-1937, and Assistant Bishop of Derby and Rector of Egginton 1927 until his death in 1941. He is buried here. The flute and clarionet were presented to the church in 1912 by Mr Thomas Hulland. They were used in this church, together with a bassoon and violoncello, to accompany the singing before an organ was introduced (probably about 1845). In the churchwarden expenses for 1782 appears “Paid for the bassoon reeds, 5s. 0d.” An interesting selection of other memorials.

This is the West Tower window. It depicts St Wilfrid, was designed by Sarah Burgess (who did St Helen at Etwall). It was installed in 2003, and constructed by Tony Sandles of Saffron Walden. The panels represent the landscape around Egginton, the coloured shafts recalling the decorated willows celebrating the osier growing within the village.

The other modern glass is the south aisle window, with the theme “I am the resurrection and the life”, which is used to depict the natural world around Egginton, fields, trees, bird and animal life. It includes some local features. It was designed and crafted by Michael Stokes of MDS Glass of Edwinstowe, Nottingham.

The East Window dates from the C13 or C14. In its original state it would have been full of glass – all that remains from this period are six small figures and the border. It was cleaned and repaired in 1984. The Nativity scene is in the North Chancel window. It is from the studio of Charles Eamer Kempe – I love the angels.

The pulpit is Jacobean, and I think it is lovely. I like the figures – exceptional. It needs some research – I feel another PhD coming on.

Lovely chair, a selection of books in a convenient niche, a cross, a hatchment, and a wonderful notice on the piano. Another visit I enjoyed.


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Etwall, Derbyshire – St Helen

On Monday 8 October I had arranged to meet Chris my predecessor for a coffee. She is currently looking after Etwall and Egginton, two churches just outside Derby. This means she has the keys for Etwall and Egginton so she can show me round. St Helen’s church Etwall is in the middle of the village at SK 269319, and has a website. The church is apparently open on Wednesday afternoons.

You can imagine a small wooden church near Etta’s Well, perhaps replaced by a stone church in Saxon times. Domesday records that there was a priest and a church here, and at some point between 1154 and 1181 it was given to Welbeck Abbey, and in 1370 the Manor of Etwall was presented by John of Gaunt to the Priory of Beauvale. The south doorway and a two arched arcade date back to Norman times. There was more building undertaken in the C13, which can be seen in the Chancel – the stone gospel shelf on the north wall is rare, one of only eight in the country. (Northernvicar breathes a sigh of relief that he has included it in one of his photos).

Most of the church is C15 and C16. In 1536 it was recorded that the value of the Vicarage with the tithes of hay, lambs, wool and hemp was £8, and the rectory pertaining to Welbeck at £10. (I wonder what the priest of 1536, off to spend some time ploughing his strip and land, and having to negotiate his tithe from his neighbours, would make of the fact I am sat here, typing this on my laptop, and my wages arrived from London this morning – no doubt he would be amazed how much I’m paid!!)

We entered through the back door, and the Vestry has a wonderful ceiling. The guidebook uses the monuments to bring this church alive, so let’s do likewise. The earliest dated memorial is this incised alabaster slab which was dug up during the alterations in 1881. Richardus and Johana, surname illegible, he died in 1503.

The top left hand brass below is Elizabeth Port. Her husband was Henry. He died in 1512, and his brass has gone. Apparently Elizabeth is dressed in a fashion only allowed to those who had taken a vow of chastity.  Henry was a mercer of Chester, and his son John was a lawyer who married Jane, the daughter of and heiress of John Fitzherbert of Etwall. You can imagine Elizabeth coming and living with her son and his family. John was knighted in 1525 and became a Justice of the King’s Bench in 1527. He was one of the panel of judges at the trials of both Thomas More and Anne Boleyn, and after the Dissolution he managed to obtain the rectory of Etwall from the Welbeck Abbey estate, and the Manor of Etwall from the Beauvale Priory estates. (Does anything change?) . He was also the founder of Repton school. He and Jane had a family, and after her death he married Margaret, daughter of Edward Trafford. In his will he asked to be buried “under the arche that is between the chancel and the chapel where I am my wife had used commonly to knele”, and in 1541 he got his wish. He is wearing his robes of office with a collar and a pendant, with a wife on either side. The heads of all the three have been hacked away. On the sides of the tomb are the arms of Port impaling Fitzherbert and Port impaling Trafford, and the emblems of the Passion. The capital on the east side of the arch is intricately carved with a rose and pomegranate design, one of the badges of Mary Tudor. The guide does not explain the ‘slabs’ of stone holding the three of them in place.

His son, presumably from his first wife, was another John – and the right hand brass at the top above is him and his two wives, one of whom was also an Elizabeth. (I hope I’ve got this right). He was an extremely wealthy man from both father and wife. His wealth must have come in useful when, according to a letter found in the archives at the Tower of London, “at Derbye the 25th days of June, 1545 … the Dev[ill] as we do suppose began in Needwood which is XI miles from Darbie and there can be cast down a great substance of wood and pulled up by the rotts, and from thens he came to Enwall whereat one Mr Porte doth dwell, and there he pulled down ij great elms, that there were a dozeyn or xvj loode upon a piesse of them, and went to the church and pullyed up the lead and flonge it upon a great elms that standeth a payer of butt lengths from the church and hangyd upon the bowys like streamers.” The Gerald family inherited the Manor – they were Catholics, so live cannot have been easy for them.

The C17 has left us some lovely woodwork, the main south door, the reading desk dated 1635, and the carved pews in the Port Chapel. These pews were used by the pensioners from the Almshouses, and are fitted with pegs where they could hang their hats and cloaks. Above the altar are the armorial bearings of two of the Trustees, Gerard and Hastings.

The advowson and the manor eventually passed to the Cotton family in 1695, and remained with them for over 200 years. The Royal Arms of George III date to 1805, the year of Trafalgar, and there are three nice hatchments. The one with “Resurgam”, I will rise again, is that of the Reverend Charles Evelyn Cotton who died in 1857. His widow Frances Maria, nee Bradshaw, died in 1868. Apparently the black and white background means his partner was still alive. The Cotton half of the arms is on the left, the Bradshaw half on the right.

There are some lovely memorials. Here are two: Mary Mainwaring died 1747 (I think) and Rebecca Beer died 1829. I like the idea of being Master of the Hospital – shades of Barchester (I can imagine myself as Mr Harding).

The stained glass is Victorian, but none the worse for that. Note the two odd oblong windows above the East Window, with its pelican. A Victorian pulpit too.

At the back of the church they have done some work with a loo and tea point, and this rather lovely embroidery of St Helen was commissioned from Sarah Burgess in 1998. It shows St Helen in a pose taken from a figure in a wall painting in the Catacombs in Rome. Her arms are extended in blessing over the landscape around Etwall. The background of the central panel is made up of interlocking crosses forming a pattern developed from a Byzantine icon. The Chi Rho symbol, made of the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, was said to have been seen by Constantine in the sky above the battle of Milvian Bridge. Helen was Constantine’s mother, and in her old age she travelled to Jerusalem to find the Holy Cross (see the blog on Ashby-de-la-Zouch). The textile was installed in July 2000, and I think it has lifted the back of the church. Thank you for that Millennium vision.

Outside the church we had a look at the Sir John Port Almshouses. They date to 1681, with minor later repairs. The Screen is by Robert Bakewell, as is the lovely one in Derby Cathedral (which I will get blogged one day).


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Chesterfield, Derbyshire – Christ Church

On Sunday 30 September there were a couple of churches in Chesterfield doing WW1 Commemoration events. Our friend Anne had been with us for the weekend and was returning to Northumberland – so Chesterfield is en route. Christ Church is at SK 385723, and has a website shared with Holy Trinity (which we visited several years ago). The Derbyshire Churches website gives it a couple of sentences: “Christ Church on Sheffield Road is the sister church to Holy Trinity and both share the same vicar, David Horsfall. The Foundation Stone of this church was laid on 5 September 1869 by the Venerable Thos. Hill B.D, Archdeacon of Derby, and consecrated on 20 September 1870 by the Bishop of Lichfield.” Pevsner is even briefer: “Of 1869 by S. Rollinson, aisles of 1913-14 by S. Rollinson & Sons. Of stone, lancet style with W bellcote. N aisle converted to a meeting room.” The church has excellent access.


The Derby Diocesan website has a link to photos of the WW1 event – here – and as soon as we arrived it was obvious a huge amount of work had been done.


My dad had one of these stereoscopes, and it was great to be able to pick up the slides and use it properly. It is funny how 3D seems to bring a photo alive.

There was a chap who has obvious gathered a collection of fascinating items, and was demonstrating the weapons and chatting to people. The only problem was that someone else was doing a talk with powerpoint, and it was hard not to disturb him.

The side altar had been transformed with a cascade of knitted poppies – a lot of work had gone into this.  Quite profound with the blank face of the soldier in front.

The choir stalls in the Chancel had been made into trenches and if the photos are believed the school children enjoyed them. The War Memorial window is quite fascinating – I’ll use it to illustrate my Remembrance Sunday sermon at St Matthew’s. The joint school choir has opted to sing Imagine  by John Lennon, so I have to counter “imagine there’s no heaven” with some more positive images. The other Chancel windows have a War memorial feel as well. The windows are in memory of Thomas Stubley and Clarence Victor Campbell. The parish had researched them, and all their other WW1 dead. Apparently the image of the soldier and Christ was taken from a picture postcard which was sent to him in France, and which had been a source of great strength to him. Michael and Gabriel are in the other window.

Private Charles Gordon Shaw was mortally wounded on the first day of the Somme offensive. He was rescued from the battlefield by his close friend Sergeant Dick Wragg, who saved three men that day and was awarded the DCM for his bravery. He was shipped back to England where he died of his wounds six days later. Dick’s original headstone has been laid here so that their story will be forever joined.


The milk carton hooks made me smile. We had spent so long here that the other WW1 Chesterfield church will have to wait until 2118.


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York, Yorkshire – Priory Church of the Holy Trinity

A afternoon in York on Thursday 27 September was an opportunity have supper with the kids – and do some book shopping. I left Julie in one shop and did a church visit. The Priory Church of the Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York – grid reference SE 598866 – website – welcomes you with their stocks! Inside they welcome you with an exhibition about Faith – surely something we should all have. Apparently there is also an app – search York churches.

It has been suggested that this is a very early, even Roman, site – York Minister occupies a site in the Roman military settlement, this site is in the civilian town the other side of the Ouse. Holy Trinity was certainly founded before the Norman Conquest, and it is recorded by 1066 as a church dedicated to Christ Church supported by a community of secular priests or canons. In the Domesday Book it was listed as one of the five great northern churches. It was re-founded circa 1089 by its new Norman lord as a Benedictine priory served by a community of monks. It may well have been a double church – Holy Trinity for the monastic community, and next door St Nicholas for the lay community of the parish. The monastic complex covered about 7 acres. At the Dissolution the monastic buildings were demolished, but the church remained – it is now only half the length and width of the original.

The original font has at some point been replaced by this one with an amazing carved cover. The gilded dove suspended over the font is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

The St Nicholas Chapel dates from 1453 and the window depicts the C3 saint restoring to life children who had been killed by a wicked inn keeper and kept in a brine tub. We have a Victorian window on the “suffer little children” theme. The Great East Window is by Charles Kempe, it depicts St Thomas of Canterbury, St Martin and St Benedict, whose altars were in the former monastery church, and St James. The reredos depicts saints associated with the North – Paulinus, Wilfred and John of Beverley; Bishops of York, Cuthbert and Aidan of Lindisfarme with Hilda of Whitby.

There are lovely monuments. The white marble tablet was erected in memory of Dr Burton, a parishioner of the church. He was the author of Monasticon Eboracense, and is well known to the world as Dr Slop of Tristram Shandy. Hanging from the scroll is a seal, with the motto ‘Diligentia Sapientia et Virtute’ and bearing the shield Dr Burton 1771. Mr and Mrs Jubb sound rather lovely too.

There are some interesting War Memorials – including one which shows what affect the War had on individual families. There is a superb display about the War – and this church has superb displays about everything. There is nothing grotty, photocopied and second-rate here. There is plenty to look at, plenty to read, and good children’s activities (does that means activities for good children?).

The eagle is flying, the roof bosses worth looking up at – and this statue of the Holy Trinity, carved by Matthias Garn, is a reproduction of the original medieval statue that used to be here. God the Father is seated in majesty, the Son of God is represented by the crucified Christ, with the Father holding the cross beam of the cross, thereby showing his consent to the crucifixion. The Holy Spirit is represented by a dove emanating from the mouth of the Father, showing he is the source of all things. The Father shares the pain of the Son, the Spirit flows over and towards the Son, uniting all.

On a lighter note, this advertising board just across the road made me smile.

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Walsingham, Norfolk

I had organised a meeting in Walsingham for Wednesday 19 September to discuss pilgrimage traffic and the railways. I need to do an MA dissertation, want to do something on railways, tourism and guidebooks, and it has been suggested focussing on Walsingham will be a good idea. We parked outside the old Great Eastern station which is now St Seraphim’s Chapel, Icon and Railway Heritage Museum, and I had a hour’s chat about what could be researched. The station has an icon chapel – website – and there is another website here.

Members of the Orthodox community were part of the 1931 procession when the statue of Mary the Mother of God was translated from the parish church to the Anglican shrine. In 1938 Archbishop Seraphim of Berlin was present when the shrine church was dedicated. In the 1950s Archbishop Nikodem led pilgrimages from London, and he was not alone. Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, who I remember coming to Selwyn to preach, led several pilgrimages here.

Originally there was a small Orthodox Chapel at the Anglican shrine, and 1966 when Fr. Mark (later to become Fr. David) and Leon Liddament came to Walsingham as part of the newly formed Brotherhood of St. Seraphim. They soon felt that the local Orthodox needed a larger church, and the old railway station was available. The station was opened in 1857 and closed in 1964. They set about converting the building to its current form, which, as the building was being rented from the council, left it practically the same as the railway days with the addition of an onion dome and cross. The chapel was placed in what had been the Gentlemen’s waiting room and the booking office, and the original fireplace is retained. Since then a monastery has been established in Dunton and a parish church in Great Walsingham, and St Seraphim’s has remained a pilgrim chapel open to all who visit Walsingham. The Trust purchased the station in 2008.

Walking down into the village I passed the signs detailing the major Catholic pilgrimages, and later we went into the Gift Shop to purchase a small crib.

I met the others in the café at the Anglican Shrine – website. I was not in the best frame of mind for a spiritual experience. I think I had had too many churches so far this holiday, I struggle with the rather masculine nature of the priesthood here, and it feels a bit insular. I need to relax and enjoy, stop criticizing, and stop feeling guilty. It is a nice café – but if you pick up the jug of salad cream instead of the jug of milk, don’t expect your tea to taste very nice!

The Chapel of the Guild of All Souls’ was built in 1965 – I like some of the glass.

The main chapel is interesting. I liked the candles – just a few of them required. There’s a little chapel, presumably dedicated to Cuthbert, with his otter in place.

The main church is huge, and I see they feel it necessary to lock God away. The Cenotaph was erected in pious memory of Geoffrey de Clinton, c. 1090, founder of Kenilworth Castle – a place I haven’t been to for years – and of Osbert of Coleshill, his brother. I have driven through Coleshill recently.

The Shrine was found by the Lady Richelis in 1061 – she had a vision of the Virgin Mary in which she was instructed to build a replica of the house of the Holy Family in Nazareth in honour of the Annunication. When it was built, the Holy House in Walsingham was panelled with wood and contained a wooden statue of an enthroned Virgin Mary with the child Jesus seated on her lap. Among its relics was a phial of the Virgin’s milk. Walsingham became one of northern Europe’s great places of pilgrimage and remained so through most of the Middle Ages. It was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1538, and restored in 1922 by Father Hope Patten, the Anglican Vicar of Walsingham. The Holy House was rebuilt in 1931, and a spring was found – I remember our kids helping the nun fill some bottle several decades ago.

As we left the site we looked at the little exhibition, and realised we had missed the Holy House. “At the heart of the Shrine of Our Lady lies the Holy House containing the image of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Holy House itself is contained within the highly-decorated Shrine Church.” Heard the one about the MA student and church blogger who missed the Holy House?

We walked round through the village up to the parish church. St Mary and All Saints’, Little Walsingham – website. There are steps up to the church, but the notice about disabled access directs us to the side. We pushed up the ramp. We got into the porch, and found there is a step in. Try the side door – yes, it’s marked as disabled access. No, it’s locked. I’ll go inside, no, still locked. Is it too much to ask that an open parish church, in a village which is a major pilgrimage centre, should be accessible? (Is it too much to suggest it should have a pile of Norfolk church guides and some literature to get visitors out into other churches nearby?). I took a few quick photos, and went to re-join Julie.

The church was rebuilt after a major fire in 1961. The font is rather special – around the bowl are depicted the Seven Sacraments of the church in the C14, and it seems to have survived the Reformation. One panel shows the crucifixion, and around the stem are figures of the four Latin Doctors of the church and the four evangelists. The reclining figures are of Sir Henry and Lady Sidney who died in 1612 and 1638. The East Window was designed by John Hayward in 1964 – there is a full description of it here.


Our final church was the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation on the Friday Market – there are some lovely pictures on this blog. It was built in 2006, designed to be carbon neutral with solar panels on the roof. I like the Julie-friendly pews, and the colours of the font.

So there’s a quick trot around some of the churches of Walsingham. I will come back and do them a bit more thoroughly. If anyone has any suggestions or pointers on railway tourism, you know where I am.


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Outwell, Norfolk – St Clement

We drove on a mile and parked by the east side of St Clement’s in Outwell. The Nene flows round two sides of it, grid reference TF 513036.  There is a Friends website (it has an excellent section on the church history, and a link to an article on all the carvings), and Simon’s site is – as always – worth a read – here.

St Clement, Pope and martyr, circa AD 100, is the patron saint of mariners – a good dedication for this inland port. The tower is C13 Early English at the bottom, C14 higher up, and there was a very tall spire until 1753. The porch is a C15 reconstruction, with a parvis (priest’s room) above – one day I shall retire to a room up there. The church was open – they do a café on a Tuesday. Into the church, and there is a notice making sure the visitor knows what he or she is to do!

I feel a bit guilty – after Upwell I was a little angeled out. I looked up, and looked at the display, and took some photos. I hope they will get some better photos than mine on the Friends’ website.

This is another fabulous piece of carving, but could we please sort out the lights and the wiring?

The are some lovely stone carvings too – lots of faces, human and angelic.

I think the Green Men were in the Fincham Chapel – the carving is rather wonderful.

A rather lovely memorial, Balthazar (one of the Magi), some nice glass, and some hideous Victorian yellow glass in the East Window (I wonder if they could ask their neighbouring village how to get rid of it (have a read of my last blog)).

A nice wooden table, C15 parish chest (another one imported from Poland). The wooden C17 alms box was made to receive offerings, through the appropriate opening, from women at their churching; one face represents a boy, another a girl, and the third, with two slots, twins – presumably if you had triplets you got a free churching!

I haven’t done this church justice, and I apologise. Even northernvicar can get a bit over-whelmed. I will come back.

The Wisbech and Upwell Tramway ran passed the church, and there is a nice memorial to a line I wish I’d travelled. (The various web links to the line and its history are on the previous blog).



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Upwell, Norfolk – St Peter

In Wiggenhall church I purchased a Church Trail. It is trail 2, “Tailors and Tank Engines”. Are there other trails? I look at the Diocese of Ely website, searched for “Church Trails”, no results found. No results for “tourism” either. I can find nothing on their website about visiting churches. I get very frustrated – actually, that’s the polite word. The trail starts at Welney, but we joined it at Christchurch. Henry Sayers, father of Dorothy, was rector here from 1917-1928. Dorothy was an adult by this stage, so only visited her parents here. The church was built in 1864, and was locked. We drove beside the Sixteen Foot Drain, north into Upwell.

St Peter’s church Upwell is in the middle of the village, beside the A1101 and the River Nene (old course) – grid reference TF 506027. It has an impressive noticeboard, and we walked across the road to get the key. We were welcomed into Joanne’s Pantry, a lovely village café. I had a bacon, sausage and egg roll to be proud of, and my wife was chatted up by old Fenland gents. We borrowed the key and went for an explore. They have a church website – not as good as the noticeboard.

Before we go inside, we had better look at the Village Sign. Church on one side, and a tram engine (and, to be honest, a disappointing one) on the other. Let’s have Toby the Tram engine. To quote the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, who was Vicar of Emneth (a little nearer to Wisbech (a church locked when we later went to have a look)),  “Toby is a Tram Engine. He is short and sturdy. He has cow-catchers and side-plates, and​ doesn’t look like a steam engine at all. He takes trucks from farms and factories to the Main Line, and the big engines take them to London and elsewhere. His tramline runs along roads and through fields and villages. Toby rings his bell cheerfully to everyone he meets.” He was a locomotive on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway, and there are lots about the line at various websites – kingslynnforum, LNER  and a blog. You can watch a lovely eight minute film from the East Anglian Film Archive at their website. This is C. Reginald Dalby’s illustration, a photo from somewhere on the line, and a photo of the main depot at Upwell (just to the south of the church).

The rather glossy guidebook says there was a Roman settlement, and probably a Roman house church here), then a small Benedictine priory was founded in the late C7, but it only lasted for a few years. In 969 the Abbey at Ramsey was founded, and as part of its endowment the land on the east side of the river was given to the Abbot by King Edgar. It seems likely that the first church here was built soon afterwards. A C13 church was built on the same site – the lower two stages of the tower date from this period. A new church was started a hundred years later, and completed in stages from the west end. The stone would have come up river, the village being an important inland port. A charter for the holding of a weekly market was granted by King John in 1202. As late as the C14 there were still sea-going ships based here. As the church is one the east side of the Nene, it was part of Norwich Diocese until 1919. There were two religious houses in the parish – the Augustinians at Thirling Priory and the Gilbertines at Marmont (see the recent blog about Sempringham for more about St Gilbert). These lasted until the Dissolution. The Victorians added battlements, and demolished a spire. The gates came from the precincts of Peterborough Cathedral and are fine examples of C17 and C18 ironwork – makes you wonder whether Peterborough gave them, or someone ‘borrowed’ them! The faces on the west end are lovely, and the key I’d be given fitted the door.

You go inside and are greeted with a pleasant church. The font is C15, slightly restored, with a 1998 limed oak cover, and some nice Vicar photos nearby. One photo is apparently of William Townley, Vicar from 1812 – until a new church was built in Nordelph in 1865, the population of that part of the parish came to church by horse-drawn barge every Sunday morning at his expense. The barge was known as “Mr Townley’s Packet”. The Townley family also produced the gilded coat of arms. The wooden coat of arms is Victorian. The lectern is made of latten, a yellow alloy. The guidebook suggests it is an eagle with a cock’s comb, a link to St Peter – I’m not convinced!

The pulpit is rather splendid – I want one! I looked into the Nave, looked down on my wife, and then went into the Chancel. The East Window was installed in 1912 – it replaced one which went in in 1842 and then was “accidentally smashed by gunfire” – we won’t ask.

Two other lovely windows – with Michael defeating the dragon, and some WW1 soldiers and sailors.

There are three lovely brass plaques – how do you get that many words on a plaque?

The angels are C13. They feature in Dorothy L. Sayers’ novel The Nine Taylors and are absolutely glorious. It is a novel I always enjoy, with its East Anglian links and verses from the psalms. Psalm 18 “He rode upon the cherubims, and did fly * he came flying upon the wings of the wind” is just one of them. Whenever a Nine Taylors psalm comes up, I have a little smile to myself. You can imagine (spoiler alert) the servants’ gallery, and a convenient hiding place. I have just found these websites – roof angels and wayside art. More to read. We start with a non-angel in the Chancel. I climbed into the galleries and flew! So close you could almost touch them. I make no apologies for so many photos.

We left the church, I was certainly feeling up-lifted, and I took the key back to Jenny’s Pantry. I then chatted to the owner of this narrowboat. He asked where he could get the key to the church, and I had to tell him Jenny’s Pantry had just closed. He said he was there overnight as high winds and high tide meant that the link from the Nene into the Ouse, which is tidal, was not navigable. We had a chat, I showed him some photos of the church, and told him he must get inside. I hope he did – and if, Mr Navigator, you read this blog, do say “hello”. It is 35 years since we last had a narrow boat, and I think Julie’s days of leaping on and off one are probably over, but I read the piece here and dreamed! Perhaps I could get a boat, and tow a butty for all of Julie’s books … (And if I ever come into some money, I’ll remove the power cables in Upwell that spoil the view).


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