Thursday in the north

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Thursday dawned hopefully over Derbyshire. It was the day of our monthly meeting so we headed out for Great Hucklow, where our party converged from various directions on the Queen Anne for lunch before wandering out to Chapel en le Frith in search of a church and a Saxon Cross. We found the medieval market cross first and the stocks, still in the centre of the little town.

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It is a nice little town, all square and solid, built of the local stone that seems to carry stoic resilience in every weathered line. The golden tones that reflect the sun in spring, were darkened by the perennial damp of the winter beneath skies rapidly turning sombre. The wind was bitter, carrying the chill of the distant snows we had seen lingering on the hills.

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Passing Church Brow, a typical old street with its odd mix of ancient cobbles and modern telephone lines, we entered the churchyard. The parish church of St Thomas Becket was first erected by the Normans around 1225AD. Most of what can now be seen is much later, dating back only to the 14thC, with the ornate tower and south front built in 1733.

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The church has a long history, beginning as a forest chapel. Much later, in 1648, 1500 Scottish soldiers were taken prisoner after the battle of Ribbleton Moor, during the Civil war. The prisoners were incarcerated here by Cromwell’s troops in horrendous conditions for sixteen days. When the church was reopened, more than forty soldiers had died and another ten perished as they were marched away.

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We, however, were here to see the Saxon Cross, older by far than such a squalid episode of human history. The carvings are worn and weathered, yet they still hold their mystery and forgotten message… a visual language we can no longer decipher.

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The church was locked, so we were denied all but the briefest glimpse of the interior, stolen through the clouded pane of a window. Even from outside we could see the vibrancy of the stained glass in many of the windows, including an unusual juxtaposition of St Aidan, the Venerable Bede and Melchizedek… a window which will, doubtless, call us back to visit in summer when the doors will stand open with any luck.

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So we wandered around the churchyard, where ancient and modern grimaced at each other in what felt like a good natured battle. The significance of the expression was debated… what does that pulled mouth really mean… and did those who reproduced the expression in later centuries actually know? january hol 2016 030

We repaired to a little tea shop and, thwarted in our desire to see the inside of the church, debated out next move. We still had time before the meeting and we can work equally well on foot…or in the corner of a cosy pub. We had passed a sign for Edale… and it ran in my mind there was something there worth seeing. Certainly, there was a church…and probably a pub. There were also hills, and Mam Tor dominates the skyline. It wasn’t far… We retrieved the cars and off we went in search of Edale… january hol 2016 013

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in adventure, England, History, Landscape, Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Thursday in the north

  1. Love it. Really love it.

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  2. Denis1950 says:

    A fascinating travelogue Sue spiced with history and great images. Were those wooden things in the third shot a set of stocks? great infrastructure to help wayward teenagers settle down! Pity the church was locked. Aren’t they all supposed to be open for passing travellers to seek refuge in. Interesting story about the Scottish prisoners held inside, maybe thats why its still kept locked. Cromwell certainly set the pace for unpleasantness against fellow humans. I have yet to read anything about him in a positive context, there seems to always be some act of inhumanity tucked away with every Cromwell story.

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      Yes, those are the stocks…many survive. We feel much the same way about the locked churches, but in todays world it is, sadly, understandable. Many rural churches are open in summer months though.

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  3. Your usual excellent description and information. It’s a sad reflection on our times that churches tend to be locked

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  4. BunKaryudo says:

    I think a town is doing pretty well for history when it can apologize for most of what can now be seen of it dating back only to the 14thC. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Thursday in the north | oshriradhekrishnabole

  6. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Sue Vincent​ with more of her travels through the British countryside in search of our spiritual past. Ancient stones and gargoyles.

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  7. Mary Smith says:

    I’m sure you’ll manage to get inside the church at some point.

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  8. kim881 says:

    I haven’t explored Derbyshire yet. I really must visit.

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  9. Pingback: Thursday in the north – NICE TRIP WORLD

  10. Just the kind of day I would love! Thank you again for taking me along. 🙂

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  11. Nice description of the journey. That the church was locked reminded me of one of my trips to the southern part of my country, India. We happened to visit a small and beautiful chapel, wanted to go inside but it was locked! We tried the next day..same thing…

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  12. Judy Martin says:

    Thanks for sharing your trip Sue. I was surprised at how small the stocks were. for some reason, I thought they would be higher. It was a shame that you couldn’t get into the church but at least it gives you an excuse to go back there in the summer 🙂

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  13. fransiweinstein says:

    Looks like time has stood still there. Lovely.

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  14. Fascinating, especially the gargoyles. What did that expression signify at the time ??? ☺

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  15. The town and buildings look solid enough to stand forever. Love the pictures, Sue.:-D

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  16. macjam47 says:

    Your photographs are beautiful, but even more so are you descriptions. More interesting history that I hadn’t known before.

    Like

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