15 September 2017

Churches

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
Holme-next-the-Sea
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

28 comments:

  1. Like you, I love churches from a historic perspective. I happily donate when I visit one to help keep it open (admittedly a drop in the bucket compared to what maintaining such a building probably costs). I wonder if there's a national charity (besides the C of E) that is dedicated to preserving or maintaining churches for historic (as opposed to religious) purposes?

    In Belgium, where Dave's band students have performed in the past, many churches are now used mainly as community centers, concert venues, that kind of thing. Parts of Europe have even fewer churchgoers than England!

    I miss the community-building aspect of churches, but I don't miss going to church myself. Not at all. This is an obvious paradox, but there it is!

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    1. There are a few organisations that help to maintain churches, including The Churches Conservation Trust and The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings but the need is very great and the funds are very insufficient.

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  2. Thanks for showing us your lovely churches! They are so beautiful in comparison to the suburban brick structures I have attended all my life.

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    1. Australia had Captain Cook's childhood home dismantled and shipped out to Melbourne. Perhaps you could have one of our redundant churches too. It would be re-dedicated to St Kylie - the patron saint of twerking!

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    2. I'd rather not be canonised just yet, given that death is a pre-requisite!

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    3. Ha-ha! Good point Kylie!

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  3. Fascinating. I do enjoy travelogues and old churches, but the most telling phrase in the post is "sermons to be endured"...if you can stand another one, read chapter three of St, Paul's second letter to Timothy. I'm not suggesting this in a judgmental way at all. Not at all.

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    1. I read it but as usual I didn't get it. It reminded me of all those tortuous sermons I had to sit through as a church choirboy. Perhaps I should change my name to Hymeneus or Philetus.

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  4. Yes, I love churches and the peaceful atmosphere that you get from just sitting in one. I am like you an atheist but can still appreciate the art work that goes into most of them. Lovely post. thankyou
    Briony
    x

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  5. If you came across the names Hymenaeus and Philetus in your reading you were in chapter 2. The assignment was chapter 3.

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    1. Yes I know that sir. I was trying to put Chapter 3 in context. I may have another go at Chapter 3 later - simply because you appear to put it in great store.

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  6. Cats! They must be the only cat heads to be found in any Christian church, I bet. I'd make an exception to my No Churches rule to go see those cats in that church. I have to say that I made my No Churches rule after seeing my umpteenth gothic cathedral, but Norman churches are a new concept to me -- they look wonderful. I really like that their graveyards are so handy, too. I like cemeteries. Thank you for the signing-in tip; I will promise to leave a comment in any and all Norman churches I visit in the future.

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    1. Hello again Vivian. That font was moved from the original church in the village of Castle Rising. The old church was dedicated to St Felix and as you may be aware "felix" means cat in Latin. The carving on the font may well have happened in the eighth century - long before the Normans arrived.

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  7. Worth a visit is the church of st Peter and st Paul in Bolton by Bowland. It contains the tomb of sir Ralph pudsey, his three wives and twenty five children.......
    Sir Ralph is supposed to have given shelter to Henry vi.

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    1. Sounds like that's not the only thing Sir Ralph gave Christina! Thanks for the tip. If I am ever over that way I shall check out the church.

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  8. I agree that the churches were involved with the community. They ruled the community and told them what to think and believe. They over stepped their place in society. They over extended themselves and couldn't,t maintain their empire.

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    1. Nowadays the cult of celebrity appears to have replaced religion in many people's lives.

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  9. Such a grand tour, thanks for taking us on the journey. The photos are lovely to see. Greetings.

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    1. I am glad you checked this blogpost out. Thanks for calling by again Mr B.

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  10. Such craftsmanship and detail in the closeups. Pity about the broken noses and I am most taken with the wooden angel, holding the musical instrument, high up in the roof.

    Alphie

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    1. There were perhaps twenty angels holding up the roof in that church - each one different from the next.

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  11. I think the numbers are down everywhere (of church-goers)...I know they are here in this country.

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    1. We are all going to burn in hell.

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  12. I didn't notice the cats until Vivian mentioned them - interesting.

    All our stuff here is so young compared to your places of interest - it hardly seems worth going to see.

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    1. Hang on. What about the Viking houses at L'Anse aux Meadows? They date back to the tenth century. Besides, Canada has so much wild natural beauty to see, you don't need old buildings.

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    2. Well, yes, but to see the Viking houses I would have to take a plane or an overnight ferry and I'm not a fan of either one :)

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  13. I love your artwork and follow you pots this very minute!






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