I decided at the last minute I was going to take advantage of the bleary sun that appeared in between the clouds to go somewhere new today. Remembering the buses use a different timetable on Saturdays, and don't run at all on Sundays, I checked the supposed times online. This gave me just enough time to grab my coat and run. I then returned and put my shoes on.
I thought of a place to go and sitting upstairs at the front with the sun shining through the windows it was almost like Spring, if you ignored the clouds. We proceeded apace and after about twenty minutes I judged we were nearing the stop for the place that was in my mind. So I rang the bell and as they say, alighted. Quite what that word means I am not sure. Does it mean I got lighter by getting off, could they imply be leaving the bus that object of delights felt lighter? I know not and worried little about it at the time.
It appeared to me my goal lay just down the road and I proceeded in an easterly direction, as the constables would say, before deciding to first walk up the short street marked 'Dead end' as the sign pointed to the church of 'St James the Less.' Less what we will ignore for now.
On the way up the road I noticed the kind of thing often seen in the back roads of English villages, on this occasion it was the turret of an American tank sitting in the front garden as if this was a normal sight to see. In this part of the world, in among the quiet bungalows where nothing but wife swapping and money laundering are the usual pastimes people often parade their hobbies for the few passers-by to enjoy.
Whether the old tractor in the rear actually works these days I doubt but the American truck looks like it may sometimes be used.
I sauntered on passing the quiet houses, enjoying the near seclusion from the world hurtling by less than a mile down the road and arrived at the small church. To the right, just behind the car park, lay a field, the recently ploughed earth a light brown colour as it waited for the offerings beneath to start sprouting. Two houses stood on the other side and nothing moved, not even a bird.
The church was erected in 1130 but I failed to discover by whom and for whom. Such churches were often built by the local Lord for the villages in his area but I know not who he may have been.
Much altered since the 12th century, and renamed St James the Less in 1365 in stead of St Mary for some reason, the church conveys and impression of age. The mustiness in the air pervades the building heightening its attractiveness rather than lessening it. Somewhat darker than the photos show light fills the place today through two large windows on either side, I think these may have been the ones inserted in the 14th century. It is always something to admire when we talk of buildings renovated so long ago. This small church has been used by people for hundreds of years, mostly agricultural types, I suspect there was little else on offer then, working themselves to death every hour of the day on what must have been back breaking toil on the fields.
One interesting recent discovery was the aged paintings that once ran round the walls. Most of these were removed during the reformation but the majority of these appear to have survived reasonably well. Of course years of whitewash have hidden them so this may have preserved them to some extent but it also damaged them so these are difficult to interpret at first sight. The explanation booklet I could not find but one day I will discover more.
The old beams above the window may hold the roof up but originally this was probably a thatched roof, tiles would come later. Many houses around here remain thatched and the Thatchers art was dying out by the 1960's but demand has once again trained men to the job. needs must I suppose.
One small portion of coloured glass dating from the 1400's is found high above the window in the apse. Too insignificant for reformation zealots but maybe the windows in this church were not stained in any way, money would be scarce.
Sadly such buildings are usually locked as light fingered peoples appear looking for treasure, I however was fortunate enough to get into this one today. There is no treasure here, the building itself, and the wall paintings, are the treasure and one worth visiting.
I was much taken by the organ, which I suppose actually works, especially because of the size. What a delight, however I am not keen on organ music as such and my delight might fade if I heard it in operation.
The round end and building material can be clearly seen here. The rubble used is typical of local churches. No stone in sufficient quantities here, occasionally Roman bricks can be seen where once proud villas have fallen apart and been reused by the Saxons and later Normans for their buildings.
Naturally I found a dead soldier in the graveyard, there is usually one somewhere. Even little villages like this, still only a handful of houses, only seven families in 1810 and only a couple of dozen hoses in the area now. How many attend the church I wonder?
Anyway having enjoyed my fill of the delightful place I wandered on towards what I thought was my intended destination. As I walked I realised I may have made a mistake somewhere as this appeared to be failing to make an appearance. My knees ached, the weather became warm, so I jumped on a bus to discover I had indeed got off at the wrong stop by about three miles! The bus pass came in useful!
The destination was a church I often pass on the bus, it was locked!
Maybe the good Lord took me to a better place, certainly he knew more about where I was going than I did!
My knees now ache, I need to eat a large steak and sleep for a week!