Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Visiting churches

As regular readers of my blog will know, I am a great fan of the books of Ronald Blythe - particularly The Wormingford Trilogy.  If I have difficulty sleeping I get up, make myself a cup of tea and pick up any one of the three for a read.   Just before we went on holiday I did this with 'Out of the Valley' and came across a mention of the beauty of Blakeney Church and as we were staying in Blakeney I put it on my list of places to visit.

Even the church gate, covered as it was with almond blossom, was beautiful.   Sadly I never thought of taking photographs of the interior but sufficient to say that it was indeed beautiful.   The stained glass, the pew end carving and the carving of the pulpit were exceptional.  It gave us the taste for visiting more.

These Norfolk churches (I suspect many were built with the proceeds of wool sales) sit squat on the flat ground for the most part and have towers rather than spires.   You enter the church expecting it to be low but you couldn't be more wrong - every church we visited was cathedral-like inside with great vaulted ceilings.  Enormous empty buildings yet each one had such charm.

Marston - the next village along the coast from Blakeney - sits on a slight rise and is interesting because its tower appears to be built of part stone and part red brick.  Parts of the church are Saxon - there is the most exquisite rood screen dating back to the 15th century.  It has been very well restored about twenty years ago.  The saddest thing is a tomb in the floor (just a slab) noting the death of Suzanne in the 17th century.  She died in childbirth at the age of 23 and her baby girl died eight days later.   Apparently her husband, John, was Lord of the Manor and he did marry again and have two sons.  Ominously Suzanne's tomb also holds the remains of one of his sons, aged 15.  What horrors childbirth held in those days - and how easily death came to young people.   How lucky we are.

We visited Stiffkey church which has the ruins of an even earlier church in the churchyard.   And we also visited Binham Priory where the atmosphere was so sublime that we just sat and soaked it up.

A visit to the shrine and the gardens of Walsingham Abbey completed our churches tour - it was a beautiful day when we went there and again the peace and serenity made it easy to just sit and relax.   And to complete the day we found a restaurant in a converted Barn about a mile away which sold the most delicious cake imaginable.   Did we need cake after a full English breakfast and the promise of a three course meal in the evening?  Of course not, but I did tell you that we had both gained weight.



LeeAnn at Mrs Black's said...

I too enjoy looking at and being near old churches. There is usually such a peaceful feeling. Lovely photos, and I have not heard of this trilogy, must investigate. Thank you for sharing. x

Em Parkinson said...

Any excuse for cake Pat. I sometimes wonder how the human race ever survived given all the things that could knock us off our perches through our lives.

MorningAJ said...

What lovely photos. and thanks for the reminder of what a beautiful stretch of coastline that is.

Were all the churches unlocked? Or did you have to go key hunting? I think it's a shame when they can't be left open because of thieves and vandals.

Heather said...

Beautiful photos Pat and how nice to visit places you have read about, then reread and enjoy all over again. As for cake - holidays are meant to be full of indulgence. Being good starts as soon as you get home again!

Reader Wil said...

So in spite of the bad weather, you had an interesting and pleasant holiday. We have , like you, miserable and dismal weather for days on end.
Thanks for sharing your tour around the churches. Big cathedrals are impressive and very beautiful, but small country churches are far more charming and they tell stories ,like you discovered, about family life and childbirth.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Such lovely visits - I would love to wander about in your country. I like how well kept the older things are.

angryparsnip said...

I too think how wonderful to be able to read about someplace and then go and visit.
As always such lovely photos thank you for the tour. I especially like the 5th photo of the two arches and lush green grass, beautiful.

cheers, parsnip

Rachel Phillips said...

I am glad you enjoyed your visit to Norfolk. There are certainly lots of churches to see, many with round towers. I expect the farmer also enjoyed the farming as all farmers "farm" as they go. Perhaps you will venture to South Norfolk next time and we can have that cup of coffee!

ArtPropelled said...

I'm drawn to old churches too .... and holiday cake is essential.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes AJ - all the churches were unlocked and all had a sign outside saying 'Open All Day'

Glad you all enjoyed my brief churches tour.