Churches have come a long way.
No longer just places to spend a cold Sunday morning, you can now camp in them, tuck into a homemade cream tea, read poetry or listen to a music recital. I love churches.
Too often the un-sung heroes of English rural life, they have survived hundreds of years (including the Victorians and their own special brand of ‘church make-overs’), and is where you’ll find many wonderful stories, memorials, stained glass, lopsided headstones and links to the nations story, from a local perspective.
These are some of the churches in the Chilterns, but have more in my sights;
A reason to love the rain!
A crude but effective part of the eclesastical warning system to illiterate congregations, to toe the line or face judgement on the day. This ‘doom painting‘ not only survived the English Reformation, it survived being tossed into the skip!
Ashridge: A Flourishing Trade
Holy relics were once big business and I am astonished at how many found their way into the Chilterns that resulted in prestigious buildings, churches, woodland and more humble structures being built. Ashridge is the most prestigious amongst them.
The Grande Dame of Ewelme
How many parishes can boast a “grande dame” who has the finest alabaster tomb in the village? The village of Ewelme fits the bill.
A journey into a Chilterns desert
Social media are the new jungle drums; informing and directing with seasonal excursions, news and sightings of what is in bloom and where. So it was that I headed off seeking the pleasure of carpets of snowdrops in the grounds of the tiny parish church of Saint Botolph at Swyncombe.
The Tring Tiles
Tucked away on a side wall in the Medieval Galleries in the behemoth that is the British Museum, hang the enchanting Tring Tiles. Remarkable then, that despite such an immense archive spanning thousands of years, these eight tiles have been on a world tour and are now on permanent display.
I was drawn to the Misbourne Valley when I read a piece about rare medieval wall paintings uncovered by accident (aren’t all the best things?), in 1931 that had been hidden behind lime wash and plaster and are now restored inside this wonderful 1,000 year-old church of St John the Baptist. Still a valuable community hub inside a building designed, built and tinkered with by the Romans, Saxons, Normans and Tudors. I expect the Victorians had a hand in there too.
St John the Baptist Mongewell Park
A place of contrasts with a dollop of atmosphere, offset by the creepy landscape. The little church amidst the weeds and decay made this an unexpected delight.