8 June 2015

Fishlake

Yorkshire is England's Texas and though I know a lot about this green and pleasant county, I openly admit that I don't know everything. It's just so damned big. A Texan once boasted, "Our state is so vast that trains take two days to travel across it!" In reply, the Yorkshireman said, "Aye, we've got slow trains in Yorkshire too lad!"

A week ago, I had never heard of the curiously named Yorkshire village of Fishlake. It is situated some six miles north of Doncaster in a flat landscape just west of the M18 motorway. I must have zoomed by it a thousand times, heading for The East Riding of this nation's  honeyed and milky jewel of a county. And I guess sometimes I must have spotted Fishlake's church tower, not knowing where it was as I travelled by at eighty miles per hour.

In 1086, when the Domesday Book was compiled, the village was referred to Fiscelac - a name derived from Old English. Essentially it meant "fish stream", referring to the abundance of fish that local residents could catch throughout the year but especially when the River Don flooded - something that happened very often in the absence of levees.

I drove into Fishlake in the early evening and mooched around before heading towards the old church. It is called St Cuthbert's and was built in Norman times. The south door is quite magnificent - probably the finest Romanesque church doorway in Yorkshire with stone carvings that are still impressive even after a thousand years of gradual erosion. The church is named after St Cuthbert because his bones once resided here long after his coffin was removed from the holy island of Lindisfarne during the time of Viking invasions.

Many church doors are locked these days but I tried the door of St Cuthbert's and it creaked open. Inside I could hear singing from the vestry - a small choir practising. And they were singing:-

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in fields of gold
Sunlight filtered into the old church and I noticed the very beautiful east window - restored in 2001. Very simple and elegant and designed to frame the trees in the churchyard beyond.

St Cuthbert's is a  peaceful and much loved stone building that speaks of generations of Fishlake villagers - of their hopes and dreams, their weddings, their christenings and their funerals and of the river beside it that made this forgotten place a bustling little inland port in medieval times. In those flatlands by The River Don where water, land and sky converge.

16 comments:

  1. It is a beautiful church. They were singing one of my favourite songs. Were they as good as Eva Cassidy?

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    1. Better because they are alive and she is dead.

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  2. Is the village itself as attractive as the church? It is a beautiful place, and the window is indeed very elegant. I imagine the choir singing added a lot to the atmosphere, even though it is beautiful from what I can tell from just looking at the pictures.
    What made you decide to finally stop there instead of whizzing by as you've done so many times before?

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    1. I was hoping to do one of my long walks. I had taken my brother home from hospital in Hull. He had had an operation under general anaesthetic and the process all took much longer than expected so I only had time for a little stroll around Fishlake. It is a nice place though some of the houses are quite modern. Very different from nearby Stainforth which is quite run down.

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  3. Splendid church and the Perpendicular (I think) window is so clean and light. As for the Fields of Gold I'll take a dead Eva Cassidy recording over any other I've ever heard: even Sting.

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    1. Try some hidden village choristers with sunlight beaming into a church that is a thousand years old... "As we walk in fields of gold ". Even Eva Cassidy couldn't capture that feeling Graham.

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  4. A large bit of trivia...Texas is 696,241 sq-kms. Queensland is 1,852,642 sq-kms.

    That's a lovely old church.

    Thanks for taking me to places I will never get to see...other than through your photos. :)

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    1. Wow! That is great trivia Lee! To think that Queensland is more than double the size of Texas! Amazing! And I am pleased to have you on my little photo-walks. Maybe we can have a picnic and we can share stories of yesteryear.

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  5. That church is phallic

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    1. Phallic? No, it's Church of England!

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  6. The church window - lovely link in the colour composition; green outside the window, green altar cloth and green in the flower arrangement. Driving along at eighty miles an hour - just like a West Texan...

    Ms Soup

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    1. Yup! Wearing my ten gallon hat with bull bars on my SUV, singing along to The Dixie Chicks, spitting chewing tobacco from my window. Yee-hah!

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  7. One of the few things I can remember from my school days, my surname means "son of Cuthbert" which is bemusing as my father is Horace (with a silent H) - I think, though as the Catalans say, "one thing you can never say with 100% certainty is that that priest isn't my father."
    Great song :)

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    1. I may have said this before but I think that St Cuthbert and not St George should be England's patron saint. Horace Cutts sounds like a character from Dickens - maybe a butler in a grand house or a womanising scoundrel.

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  8. Love the church . Love the window and the door. But the best thing would be hearing the choir in the empty church. Lucky man !

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    1. I felt like an actor stepping into a film - "When The West Wind Blows" starring Yorkshire Pudding as the local vicar and Helen Happenings as Lady of the Manor. I am not sure how that film would end.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.