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Out and about in Yelling and Toseland

Great day out and about – thats what bank holidays are for I reckon. So off I went to Yelling which is about 6 miles from Little Paxton ( maybe a bit more) where the church hosted a most splendid flower festival on the theme of “Rhyme and Revelation” .

They certainly have some skillful flower arrangers in their church community and it was good to linger a while and enjoy their interpretations of some well known children’s rhymes and biblical stories where revelations were to the fore.

Best to share the visit in pictures, so here we go:

yelling aug 31st 09 annunciation

The annunciation

Ely 900 FF

The Ely 900 display

shepherds at FF

This is my favourite – The Shepherds in the chancel travelling to see Jesus

humpty dumpty FF

Guess who?

yelling church aug 31st hanging snokflakes

Strange but pretty hanging snowflake type designs in the tower arch.

And now, I have run out of blogging time cos I just have to watch  the second episode of ” Wuthering Heights” on ITV….. but before I do, here is a quick glmpse of Toseland church … more tomorrow…

toseland church aug 31st 09

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nick’s sermon on ” back to work” August 30th at Little Paxton

Benefice Songs of Praise today at Little Paxton and Nick shared his thoughts with us on ” Back To Work” – as a lot of us might be going back to work this week after time off of some sort   ( even if you havent had time off or dont ” go out to work” – its still a good homily on a Christian take on work)   So, with Nick’s permission here it is:

Theme: Back to Work


Ephesians 6: 5 – 9

Slaves and Masters

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.


May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O God, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

Last week, one of the lectionary readings was – from Ephesians – about the Armour of God. If you flick just a few verses back – you get the reading we heard this morning – slaves and masters.

I’m sorry to be the one to say it, but this late summer holiday weekend means that the holidays are nearly over. Next week it’s back to school for some, work for others and ‘normality’ for those who’ve been looking after grandchildren or just enjoying the summer. As my granny used to say, back to ‘auld claes and porridge’.

That happened for me last Monday when I went back to work after two weeks holiday and it’s often a difficult step to take after the freedom of the beach at Southwold or the Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise at Center Parcs.

As Dolly Parton once said:

Workin’ 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin’
Barely gettin’ by
It’s all takin’
And no givin’
They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

And Tennessee Ernie Ford sang, “You load 16 tons, & what do you get, another day older & deeper in debt.”

Perhaps I can ask you a question or two – “Do you like your job? How many of you look forward to going to work on Monday mornings because you really miss seeing the boss? How many of you miss your colleagues so much that you can hardly wait to get back to see how they’re doing?”

Now if you answered “YES” to any of those questions, then I think you’re in the minority. Surveys show that about 60% of us unhappy in our jobs.  But on this, the Bible as you would expect is way ahead of us. Proverbs 28:14 says: “Happy is the one who is never without fear, but one who is hard-hearted will fall into calamity.”

So that’s alright then, but what’s going to be in the in tray when we get back to work?

No doubt there’ll be the easy things, and the things we like to do as well as those more mundane or difficult tasks. After a couple of weeks off, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start and what the most important things are. That’s why many employers have mission statements and company values to keep us focussed on the reasons we’re really there – over and above the obvious ones such as mortgages and electricity bills. Some of them really work and others may sound like jargon, but – if I may draw from the corporate jargon for a moment – let me run this idea up the flag-pole to see who salutes it.

As Christians, we have another job to do, another mission statement to help us to focus – to know Christ and make him known.

If we ever feel bad about going back to work tomorrow, imagine how Jesus – who was every bit as human as you and me – must have felt the night before he went to work on the cross. He knew he had a lonely, painful and difficult job to do – much worse than wading through hundred of emails and voicemails will ever be – but he was ready to do it. And he sets no conditions – he doesn’t say, I’ll only do it if I get a pay rise or a promotion. He just asks his disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

And that’s something we can take with us when we go back to work on Monday – or whenever we go and whatever we do. As Christians we can be the ones who can be trusted, who are not seeking our own ends but who are seen to care about the people we work with and who sometimes are willing to stir things up a bit.

How can we do it? Well, it is really important that we put some time aside for prayer and to enjoy the company of God and experience God’s love. He’ll show us what we need to do. Take the trials and tribulations, as well as the joys of each day to God and whenever the pressures get to you, talk to him about them.

In Romans 1: 14-16, Paul says that God had given him the job of making sure the world hears about Jesus. It’s a job that all of us should be proud to do because while many of the world’s religions depend on what our employers might call a ‘performance review’ before we are saved; with Jesus we get the gift of eternal life completely free. No interview, no induction, no probationary period, no personal development plan or objectives and no disciplinary hearings.

So wherever we work, if we’re still at school or retired, as we prepare for the end of the holiday season let’s resolve to take God with us wherever we go and make him part of everything we do. If there was ever a job worth doing, here’s one that’s worth doing well.

Let us pray.

Prayer for the Work Day

Almighty God, thank Thee for the job of this day.
May we find gladness in all its toil and difficulty,
its pleasure and success,
and even in its failure and sorrow.
We would look always away from ourselves,
and behold the glory and the need of the world
that we may have the will and the strength to bring
the gift of gladness to others;
that with them we stand to bear
the burden and heat of the day
and offer Thee the praise of work well done.  (Bishop Charles Lewis Slattery 1867-1930)

As it was in the beginning, is now and forever more shall be. Amen.

Lp tower in sunlight aug 25th 09

August 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visitors and family trees and tympana

It was good to welcome both to Great Paxton and Little Paxton churches today the Colmworth Local History Group.  They split into two groups and each took their turn in visiting LP and GP – with myself doing a little talk at LP and Ray Geeves doing the honours at GP.

I had got myself captivated by the pre-history of LP from David Broad’s History  of Little Paxton ( 1989) and find it fascinating to think of old stone age peoples inhabiting these parts  by the Ouse. Thanks to the gravel pit extractions so many finds from that  period onwards have been found and many are lodged at the Norris Museum in St Ives.  I think for both groups who came to LP – the tympanum  above the south door was the most admired and talked about. Pevsner in 1968 called it ” barbaric and entertaining” and there are many theories as to who the figures represent:

LP tynpanum

Lest we think we are the only ones to have an enigmatic tympanum, here is the tympanum at Stow Longa Church. Same mason ?

.big S L tynpanum

The tympanum at Stow is more obviously related to the Little Paxton tympanum and possibly to the worn relief at nearby Tilbrook. The composition, with three simple beasts carved in low relief, is not readily interpreted by the modern viewer. The temptation is to read it as a series of pictograms rather than any kind of narrative. Adopting this approach, the central siren, who lures sailors onto the rocks with her sweet singing, is generally identified (following the Physiologus and subsequent Bestiary texts) as a warning against deception by the allurements of the world. This caution against temptation must be the chief message of the tympanum, but further analysis is hampered by the problem of identifying the flanking beasts. One possibility is that the creature on the left, with its rough skin and gaping mouth, is a crocodile, representative (in the hydrus story) of hell, and that on the right is a lion, often equated with Christ. The ensemble would then depict man’s choice between salvation and damnation when faced with earthly temptation. Keyser (1904) suggests that the animal on the L has its foot on an altar, and that the creature on the R may be the Agnus Dei, probably because of the characteristic folding of one foreleg.

The afternoon brought me and son Michael again delving the depths of Wandsworth family history and the curious link we found a few weeks ago between a branch of my lot called Whanslaw and a branch of his girl friends family called Langley. We made a lot of progress but as usual one answer throws up a lot more questions.

The few facts( the hatches, matches and dispatches)  we find give a pale reflection of what our ancestors lives were really like –  although with a lot of research no doubt it’s possible to put flesh  on what life was like for  our ancestors say in London in Victorian times.  One we found ran the pub the  “Royal Standard” in Wandsworth in 1871 – and its still there on the corner of two roads in Ballantine Street. pub picture

Imagine all the conversations that have taken place around the bars in there over the years!

Songs of Praise tomorrow as it is Benefice Sunday – love a good sing and some thoughtful words to look forward to from Nick.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ancient – and not so ancient history.

It was lovely to see my sister Helen again today who came by train from manchester along with my nephew Simon. We spent some time with my Mum in her nursing home and then came back to the vicarage. Sitting in the garden it wasnt long before the family photographs came out – and there were images of all of us as young children – from my mum onwards looking out of the pages innocently. 85  years or so captured in a few pages of black and white pictures.  Time is a big mystery to me – the present moment as elusive as water which we may try to capture in our hands but which flows away no sooner as have you grasped it.

helen august 26th 09 in garden

Paxtonvic’s sister Helen looking at some old photos.

In these days of sitting with Mum in her fraility – and now mental fraility as well, I am more and more drawn to history. Both family and local and indeed Christianity’s history in these parts.

I found a copy of ” A History of Huntingdonshire” by Michael Wickes on my bookshelf I didnt even know I had and have enjoyed a few chapters this evening. Michael was part of a workcamp at Little Gidding in the 1970’s which I was on too and became a very gifted historian and writer, living for some time at Little Gidding and working in the Cromwell museum in Huntingdon. He moved to Devon and believe it or not I remembered that it was in the grounds of his house that back in 1980 I camped  on honeymoon. It wasnt his fault that it rained all night and the tent  was afloat in the morning!

When I went back to Little Giiding last year I learnt that Michael had very sadly died – I was very sorry to hear that but was glad I had met him all those years ago. Its a great book on the old county of Huntingdon and I will quote a few lines from the opening chapters that particularly caught my attention.

From Chaper 2 – Roman Huningdonshire:

” Most of the farmland on the banks of the Ouse was worked by groups of Romano-British people living in settlements scattered along the valley floor. Romano-British farmsteads have been located at Stirtloe near Buckden, the Brickhills estate neay Eyenesbury… Little Paxton and St Ives. Numerous Roman-British reamins have been found at…..Great Paxton, Eaton Ford and Monks Hardwick north-eat of St Neots.

( Now I want to know what has been found and where in our parishes here!)

“Objects found in the Ouse valley indicate the presence of a multi-religious society in this area during the Roman period. Three successive temples have been excavated at Godmanchester, near the mansio and bath-house. They were apparantly dedicated to a local  C eltic  god judging from the discovery of a group of bronze votive plaques at the site, unknown elsewhere, this god was possibly a local deity of the Ouse.”

We are talking here of c 300 AD or so – our area here where partly at least celtic/ pagan god/s were worshipped.

But how aboout this bit…. ” Numerous finds in the Nene valley attest to the great prospoerity of the region during the later Roman period…..The two most famous discoveries are the  the mid-fourth-century hoard of gold coins and the late third-century hoard of church silver – found within the walls of Durobrivae – ( a Roman site  in the extreme north west of the old county of Huntingdon)  The hoard of church silver is the earliest collection of Christian church plate found anywhere in the Roman empire  and it demonstrates that Christianity has taken hold in an outlying Roman province before it was officiallyrecognized by the Imperial government. It is now on display in the Bristish museum”

So, on our doorstep – such early Christin artefacts from the late third century. Who were the first Chrsitian converts in the Paxton area? At what point did people in this area  stop worshipping celtic  deities and convert to Christ?  Great Paxton we know was our mother church, built pre 1066 – but what of Christianity before that date -of which we know so little. No wonder these years are called the ” dark ages” !

August 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Saxon arch at Great Paxton

aug 26th 09 day 11 - saxon arch into north transept

The original saxon arch which led into the north transept ( now considerably reduced in length)

Each time I look at it it seems to get taller and taller…..

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A saint and his mother- Augustine and Monica

August 27th is the day when in the church’s year St Monica, mother of Augustine  is remembered and the next day, August 28th, St Augustine himself has the  limelight. Thats Augustine of Hippo, Teacher of the faith.

I wrote a little piece about them last year and reading it again am reminded of the effect that our mothers can have on our lives and our personalities.

My mum is still with us despite being very poorly and its been good that Im able to sepnd some quality time with her. Sometimes she is quite chatty and other times so sleepy so cant really speak.  So her journey continues.

here is my offering on Monica and Augustine – Im not sure now what my sources are but hopefully it has some historicity in it!

St Monica – August 27th

St Augustine of Hippo – August 28th.

May  I introduce you to Monica. She was a Christian woman in North Africa  near modern Tunis – once called Carthage.  Born c 331AD – only 300 years after Jesus’ death and  resurrection.She has a bit of a history. As a young girl, she was fond of wine and coming from a well to do family, was taunted once for her drinking habits by a slave girl. She resolved to drink no longer. She married a pagan husband, Patricius- a man of hot temper who was often unfaithful to her, but never struck or insulted her. Monica attended church daily and cultivated the virtue of patience. She would say to other women who had bad marriages, “If you can master your tongue, not only do you run less risk of being beaten, but perhaps you may even, one day, make your husband better.” Eventually, she converted Patricius to Christianity and calmed his violent nature.

She had a son called Augustine born c 354 near to Carthage.

Monica soon recognized that her son was a man of extraordinary intellectual gifts, a brilliant thinker and a natural leader of men (as a youngster he was head of a local gang of juvenile delinquents), and she had strong ambitions and high hopes for his success in a secular career.

Indeed, though we do not know all the circumstances, most Christians today would say that her efforts to steer him into a socially advantageous marriage were in every way a disaster. Augustine took a lover from an early age who bore him a child – a situation that Monica was not at all happy about. But for many years her son remained faithful to the woman ,probably not marrying her because she was from a lower social background.

Neither was Monica happy about the way Augustine spurned Christianity

. He, as a youth, rejected her religion with scorn, and looked to various pagan philosophies for clues to the meaning of life. He undertook a career as an orator and teacher of the art of oratory (rhetoric), and moved from Africa to Rome and thence to Milan, at that time the seat of government in Italy.

In Milan two turning points shaped his future life.

Firstly, his mother joined him there. She persuaded him  that he ought to give up his lover and get married. He agreed to the bethrothal to a suitable young lady – but she was too young for marriage and the wedding was postponed for two years. His lover was sent back to Africa – and Augustine lapsed back into his old bad ways.

Secondly, he seriously engaged in conversation with the Bishop of Milan, Ambrose who had a profound effect on his thinking – he realised that Christianity was a religion fit for a philosopher. Under his preaching Augustine was converted on Easter Eve 387 to the great joy of Monica his mother. He also felt called then to a life of celibacy and wrote a famous book called the Confessions, looking back on his past life of waywardness.

After his baptism, Augustine and a younger brother Navigius and Monica planned to return to Africa together, but in Ostia, the port city of Rome, Monica fell ill and said, “You will bury your mother here. All I ask of you is that, wherever you may be, you should remember me at the altar of the Lord. Do not fret because I am buried far from our home in Africa. Nothing is far from God, and I have no fear that he will not know where to find me, when he comes to raise me to life at the end of the world.”

Monica obviously had a tremendous influence on her son’s life and faith – even if he was slow to discover joy in Christ. He went on be ordained a priest and then bishop of Hippo in 396. He was diligent shepherd of his flock but also found time to write extensively. His output was vast – 113 books – 500 sermons – and his work greatly influenced Luther and Calvin. One of his most famous books was called The Confessions – written soon after his conversion and two others – The City of God and On the Trinity  – two famous pieces of Christian writing. He also found time to refute two of the main heresies of his time – the Donatists and the Pelagians – but I won’t go into those long debates now!

Augustine died aged 75 years in 430.

Just before his conversion, Augustine had read the verses we heard from Romans today “  The night is far gone – the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light”

These words remained with him for the rest of his life – foundational words of scripture, as the example of Monica had been a firm foundation in his personal life.

Saint Monica Church, in Creve Coeur, Missouri - statue of Saint Monica
This is a statue of Saint Monica at the  church of  St Monica   Creve  Coeur, Missouri.  She is shown here in the orans prayer position (which is one of the most ancient symbols of the Church), interceding for her wayward, lazy, and faithless son. Her prayers were answered. She is the patroness of mothers with disappointing children.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Keeping my eyes open

Love this job – its so varied and I never quite know what is going to happen next…..

aug 25th 09 day 10 - stones laid out like a snake

Here are some of the best recovered stones from the Great Paxton find laid out like a snake round a yew tree….from the biggest to the smallest. Sometimes life  feels to me such a mystery and  the times and wheres and whys seem to disppear round a bend and I cant quite grasp the answers. Anymore than we know quite where these stones were once placed in the scheme of the minster church.

aug 25th o9 man on toilet roof

Here is a group from the University of the Third Age ( U3A) from Melbourn visiting Diddington church. Looking down on them as they admire something special in the church  is a benevolent angel perched on the new toilet roof …Im hoping he might be a permanent fixture…. or maybe not come to think about it.

aug 25th day 10 melbourn visit- cars

It tickled me that all of the Melbourn group’s cars were silver – here they are all lined  up down Church Lane in Great Paxton.

day 10 aug 25th - back drop manhole cover

This,  you will all recognize as a hole. Its is infact a back drop manhole cover – or will be – and that has something to do with taking  the sewage  away from the church – it kind of flows away down into  the hole and then drops down a long way into the sewage connection. Its  so clever! Whatever floats your boat, I say! Well doen Glenn and Lance for digging it out today through  the clay layers at Great Paxton.

LP church in sunlight aug 25th 09 2

LP tower in sunlight - Aug 25th 09

And then just as the sun was setting this evening I saw the light on St James Church – a golden glow gently intimating that its time to wind down and enjoy the evening.

So, I will go and see if I can cope with the last episode of the ” Desperate Romantics on BBC Tv.

…………yes, I did cope.

Hum… not totally historical in detail – his wife Lizzie did die from an overdose of laudanum  but only after she had given birth to their still born child( which wasnt mentioned) and he didnt exhume his poems from his wife’s grave straightaway – it was some years after that he did so from her grave in Highgate, London. They were published in 1870 – but were attacked for their ” fleshly” quality.

A tortured man – towards the end of his with increasing dependance on drugs life he developed a fascination for wombats and kept one at home.

If the TV series encouraged people to take a closer look at these Victorian painters I think its a good thing – and TV being TV will always bend the truth a bit to make drama a bit more dramatic.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back at Great Paxton

Day 9 of the Living Water Project – and living up to its word the water and sewage  trenches have been dug out and pipe work put in….

August 24th Day 9 - trench leading into tower base 2

Looking towards the west tower door the trench taking water ( or is it sewage?) in/out of the building.

Aug 24th Day 9 - Glenn and wheelbarrow

A lot of  hard working carting gravel around to backfill the trenches.

Aug 24th Day 9 - steps under west door

Interesting shot of the foundations (? ) under the tower base west entrance – was this the original place where the Saxon nave ended before the tower was added on?

Aug 24th Day 9 - bert Goodwin looking at stone in tower base

Bert Goodwin and taking a close look at one of the old stone found in the tower base. Bert was born in the village and has an amazing memory and grasp of the history of the village and church.  This stone is the mystery 164 stone – the numbers 164 on it in lead – but we can now see an “o” making it 1604.

More photos on – the brother site to this one!

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Early morning with the Pre Raphaelites

mariana- millais

No, this isn’t me stretching first thing in the morning suurounded by gothic stained glass……

For all of you who have viewed my Pre Raphaelite page in July here are a few more pictures from the group. This first one above is by John Everett Millais and is called Mariana. It is based on a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson called Mariana. The poor girl seems to be locked up in a moated grange and is getting pretty depressed about the fact that some man or other isnt coming to rescue her:

With   blackest moss the flower-plots
Were thickly crusted, one and all:
The rusted nails fell from the knots
That held the pear to the gable-wall.
The broken sheds look’d sad and strange:
Unlifted was the clinking latch;
Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
Upon the lonely moated grange.
She only said, ‘My life is dreary,
He cometh not,’ she said;
She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!’

( First verse of Tennyson’s poem)

Let’s hope someone comes to the rescue and lightens her mood a bit! But then that would spoil the  desolate ambience  of the poem and the painting….

coasts by holman hunt

This is Holman Hunt’s ” Our English Coasts”  ( staryed Sheep) painted in 1852 ( oil on canvas)  and is held now at the Tate Gallery.

One thing that doesnt come across in the ” Desperate Romantics ” series is that a lot of their inspiration came not only from their women but from their journeys  on English trains to various parts of the country to observe nature.

“The location shown in this painting is the Lovers’ Seat, an idyllic spot at Fairlight Glen near Hastings in Sussex. Hunt laboured here from mid-August to December 1852, enduring rain, wind and bitter cold to master his view.Despite the changes in weather, the painting seems a credible replication of particular illuminated moment. The colours used to convey light are daringly juxtaposed in order to intensify the clarity of every surface, a method that astounded audiences on both sides of the Channel”

The above is taken from the display caption with the picture at the Tate in 2007.

As with Hunt’s ” The Light of The World” the artist took great trouble and time to observe nature and the interplay of light on the landscape. Hunt went to the Holy Land ( as depicted in the Desperate Romantics) to better observe the effects of sunlight  for his ” Light of The World” .

How observant are we from day to day? All around us are so many people, objects, scenes and so much information – surely we hardly take any of it in! Thats where artists come  in – taking time to observe and help us to see better into the heart of things – and into the heart of God.

The gentle music of a bygone day - John Strudwick

And to finish with – an artist who also comes under the P-R genre – John Helhuish Strudwick and his painting : The Gentle Music of a Bygone Day

Three young ladies in the dress of the early middle ages.

Strudwick had been an unsuccessful student at the RA Schools but discovered his talent as an assistant to Burne-Jones. His paintings were painted to be beautiful and poetic. He was admired for his detail but criticised for his lack of authenticity. one critic describing this picture as ‘like a tableaux of well-bred girls from St John’s Wood’.

(From: ( worth checking out if you like the P-Rs)

And I thought that was finally, but Ive just come across George Price Boyce : George Price Boyce (1826–1897) was a British watercolour painter of landscapes and vernacular architecture in the Pre-Raphaelite style. He was a patron and friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

He painted a picture of Binsey near Oxford, one of my most favourite teenage haunts so I have to include that here:

Binsey Boyce

Again, the light is amazing – it is  a magical place.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this early morning P-R romp ( of the artistic kind!)  – the more I find the more I want to look….

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rivers and roods

Just enjoyed the last of Griff Rhys-Jones’ explorations of  RIVERS  in his series of the same name. This episode he took us down some east-anglican waters and it was good to see Ely having a big mention, and Wicken Fen.

By the time he got to Ranworth – I was delighted to catch   a glimpse once more of the splendid 15th century rood screen at St Helen’s Ranworth – the “cathedral” of the Broads. I went there a few years ago and was bowled over by the screen and the way the church was so open and welcoming of visitors.

ranworth church rood

ranworth church rood 2

Now I am trying to imagine quite how the remains of the Great Paxton rood screen used to look before it was removed to the tower arch…..

When I was young and cycling round oxforshire churches, I came across the church at Charlton-upon-Otmoor and remembered they have a splendid rood still in situ and here is an article about it:

The Charlton-on-Otmoor Garland

A unique rood exists at St Mary’s Church, Charlton-on-Otmoor, near Oxford, England, where a large wooden cross, solidly covered in greenery, stands on the 16th-century rood screen, said by Nikolaus Pevsner to be the finest in Oxfordshire. The cross is redecorated twice a year, on 1 May and 19 September (the patronal festival, on the Julian Calendar), when children from the local primary school, carrying small crosses decorated with flowers, bring a long, flower-decorated, rope-like garland. The cross is dressed or redecorated with locally obtained box foliage. The rope-like garland is hung across the rood screen during the “May Garland Service”.

An engraving from 1823 shows the dressed rood cross as a more open, foliage-covered framework, similar to certain types of corn dolly, with a smaller attendant figure of similar appearance. Folklorists have commented on the garlands’ resemblance to human figures and noted that they replaced statues of St Mary and St James which had stood on the rood screen until they were destroyed during the Reformation. Until the 1850s, the larger garland was carried in a May Day procession, accompanied by morris dancers, to the former Benedictine priory at Studley (as the statue of St Mary had been until the Reformation). Meanwhile the women of the village used to carry the smaller garland through Charlton, though it seems that this ceased some time between 1823 and 1840, when an illustration in J. H. Parker’s Glossary of Architecture shows only one garland, centrally positioned on the rood screen.

And, try as I may, I cant find a photo of this rood anywhere on the net – so one day I shall have to go abck and take one!

Time for bed said Zebedee – its hard work wining the ashes!

August 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments