|St Nicholas parish church in Dersingham|
We are home now after three lovely days in Norfolk. The weather was kind to us and we saw many marvellous things.
Even though I have been an atheist since childhood, I am always drawn to churches. England has a wealth of ancient churches and each one is different from the next. Their architecture and internal fittings speak eloquently of the past - of craftsmanship, of community, of spiritual aspiration, of wealth and poverty and of the passing of time.
|Detail of the Saxon font in Castle Rising|
During our days in Norfolk and south Lincolnshire we entered twelve churches and I snapped lots of ecclesiastical pictures. It was nice to find that ten of the twelve churches were open to inquisitive visitors. When I find a country church open, I usually write something like this in the visitors' book - "Thank you for leaving your wonderful church unlocked for passing visitors to enjoy". It is important to write in visitors' books as they provide visitor data for charitable bodies that help to fund the maintenance of our old churches.
Nowadays, the number of British people who claim they have "no religion" is greater than the number of people who say they are believers. Church attendance is so low in some villages that many parish churches are now redundant. Their maintenance is an enormous challenge. Personally, I would rather see billions of pounds spent on saving our beautiful churches than on nuclear armaments that will never be used.
|One of the medieval angels in the roof structure - St Nicholas's Chapel, King's Lynn|
It was once the expectation that everybody in every rural community would attend church on a Sunday. Failure to attend church would not only ignite much tutting and shaking of heads, it could also jeopardise one's livelihood.
|Church tower and war memorial|
Our churches were packed. Hymns were sung, prayers were recited and sermons were endured. Vicars often lived in palatial homes with extensive gardens. The church was the very hub of every community. It dealt with birth, confirmation, marriage and death. It was the one place where a community came together. The church was far more influential in people's lives than secular politics.
A few more pictures:-
|All Saints in the tiny village of Fring|
|In St Lawrence's Church - Castle Rising|
|Detail of Sir Humphret Littlebury's fourteenth century |
tomb in All Saints Church,Holbeach
|Hidden detail of a choir seat in King's Lynn Minster|