Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Precious memories and an evening churchyard

Spent part of the morning  talking with 89 year old Bert Goodwin who was born in Great Paxton. I am totally  in awe of his memory and the smallest details he can recall of life in the village from the early 1920’s to war time when he left the village.

Bert has written a lot of his memories down thank goodness but I wished I had a recorder with me this  morning – so many gems kept coming out. Bert wrote a piece about the  churchyard at Great Paxton for the St Neots Local History Magazine ( No 78 Summer 2009)  It is available at St Neots’ Museum ( well worth a visit)

Bert also said there are some ancient records on Great Paxton and Little Paxton at St Ives museum – and all being well I hope to go there with Bert to check them out.  I have always had a big appreciation for local history where ever Ive been living and working – but the very best approach for me  comes  from people who can actually remember how things were.

Bert starts his article for the St Neots local history magazine with the words:

” The curfew tolls the knell of passing day,

The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea,

The ploughman homward plods his weary way

And leaves the world to darkness and to me”

Bert comments:

” The words  of  Gary’s Elegy make a churchyard feel  mournful whereas infact it is a place of peace and quiet” – and then he continues with his wonderful description of his walk around the churchyard.


A peace rose in GP churchyard.

Just one fascinating piece from his article:

” In the churchyard stands the base of a cross which many years ago had some small triangular-shaped carvings on it but now are impossible to see. It was found in the churchyard wall when it was rebuilt c 1890 and was placed in the position that it occupies now as the Rev Cane ( a former Vicar) said that it was a churchyard cross. Infact it was one of the remains of a wayside cross and its true position was on Bury Green ( later called Mount Pleasant in Great Paxton). The names Saxon Crossway, Crossway feature in many documents of Great Paxton dating back to 1490. So it looks it had been broken before that time. It is said that the remainder of the cross is built into the belfry tower”

stubb cross june 11th 09 The cross base in Great Paxton Churchyard.

Imagine the people who would have stood by it centuries ago – praying, listening to teaching, touching it even for comfort?

Later on in the day, after a trip to Ely for a meeting, I was back at GP church for a Brownie presentation all about” Water Aid” – so good to see the church full of children – and then, after they went, bell-ringers arrived for practice. A churchyard in warm evening sun with ancient  bells ringing – I felt utterly blessed to be there.

gates into GP churchyard june 11th 09

Just time for a baptism visit and return home after a good day. And in prayers now  I will think of those for who are anxious about tomorrow and face difficult times.

June 11, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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