© Copyright Andrew Hill - geograph.co.uk 2012
Just over fifty years ago I informed the choirmaster and the vicar at my village church that I was resigning as a choirboy. No more chilly Sunday mornings in my cassock, surplus and ruff singing to a dwindling congregation. No more listening to endlessly dull sermons or prayers and Bible readings that droned on and on. Besides I had stopped believing in "God" years before - that's if I ever really believed in "Him".
And you know, since my resignation I had never attended one regular Sunday church service until last weekend when I found myself standing in the pews of The Cathedral of the Peak - St John the Baptist Church in Tideswell. - at 9.30 am.
Not much had changed in fifty years. The same droning prayers, readings and sermon. It all seemed so hollow, desperate even - still clinging to the ludicrous notion of an afterlife - as if the trials and tribulations of earthly life merely foreshadow the glorious and everlasting life to come.
At one point we were invited to shake hands with other churchgoers. That would have never happened fifty years ago. They grinned at me and said "Peace be with you!"as I replied, "Hello!". It was quite irksome.
|Inside Tideswell Church|
When the hocus pocus of communion was being performed at the altar, I whispered to my daughter, "It's such a substantial building but this service is so insubstantial". Indeed Tideswell Church is a wonderful building - so much craftsmanship, so much history. It soars gloriously above the large Peak District village. It speaks of christenings, funerals and weddings going back to the fourteenth century. You feel that history - it's almost tangible.
In order to qualify to be married there, Frances and Stew have to attend six services in six calendar months. Consequently, they were up from London again at the weekend. It is likely that the next time I am in The Cathedral of The Peak I shall, God willing (!), be walking her proudly down the aisle - a year from now.
After our attendance, we called in at The Yonderman Cafe for breakfast - eggs, bacon, oatcakes, black pudding, sausages, beans, tomatoes, toast and mugs of tea. It's a popular place and with the rest of the congregation we paid homage to the mysterious Yonderman before driving back to Sheffield.