Here be dragons….

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“You’re just a pair of churchaholics!” It was, I have to admit, a fair description from my son. Stuart and I have spent the past few years descending on ancient sites and medieval churches, armed with a camera, a little knowledge and some imaginative and innovative theories.  You would not believe the number of beautiful old places we can find within a stone’s throw of my home.

We have been lucky to find many of them standing open for visitors, and among the others have been fortunate with access. From the wedding party who invited us in to share the church while they waited for the bride, to the bell ringers, to the tiny jewel of a place, always locked, where we were invited in before Matins one Sunday.

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Not to mention a number of equally ancient hostelries we felt obliged to visit, just by way of duty, of course, the body also requiring nourishment. …

One morning as I took my friend to the station, we had arrived early and just happened to see an interesting tower… so we took a slight detour.

Having possessed ourselves of the huge cruciform key from the old vicarage we opened the door into wonderland. I can think of no other way to describe the place.

As we entered the ancient building, with its characteristic smell of damp and mortar, and closed the heavy oak door, we looked up and gasped in astonishment.

St lawrence MK and others 049The stained glass alone, glowing like forgotten jewels, would have been worth the visit. Vibrant against the grey skies outside they capture light and channel it within the dim interior of the church, a reminder of the Light Itself, all colours resolving into One. The great Bible chained to its lectern, the corbels carved as heads… it was a delight on many levels.

But it was the paintings… the incredible paintings five, six hundred years old and still glowing, that caught the attention. From St George subduing the dragon above the door, watched by the Princess, to St Helena and the Cross, to the weighing of Souls where the Virgin tips the scales in the soul’s favour, to the gruesome dismemberment of the body of Jesus… an abjuration against swearing and blasphemy… and the painted collection of workman’s tools and horseshoes… just breathtaking. Not even the texts of the Reformation painted over the older work in places could dampen the sheer exuberance of the place.

St lawrence MK and others 146We are incredibly lucky here in England to have so much of our nation’s history preserved and accessible. That same day, I wandered back the long way home.. it had to be done..

I passed through Woburn where a cross once stood, marking the resting place of Queen Eleanor’s body on its journey to London in 1290. I meandered through Soulbury where a village street is marked by a boulder, said to be the foot of the devil turned to stone. I drove through Wing with its ancient church dating back 1300 years, with Roman brickwork in its crypt built on the site of an ancient pagan temple, passed the even older ‘castle’ and prehistoric Icknield Way. I passed the Holy Well of St Osyth in Bierton,the saint was king’s daughter born in the hamlet of Quarrendon here and beheaded by marauders in AD700…

And eventually arrived home, to an apparently unremarkable  village where a Roman vineyard lies hidden beneath the schoolyard, where the course of one of the four the old Roman roads passing by my house runs next to the traces of the Saxon and prehistoric settlements, and a French chateau hides its treasures in the trees.

Is anything at all in life unremarkable, after all? Even the seemingly commonplace and ordinary holds so much if we take time to see.

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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 Ancient sites, Art, Churches, England, History, Photography, Stuart France and Sue Vincent, travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Here be dragons….

  1. Darcy says:

    OK , goosebumps,,,.

    Like

  2. reocochran says:

    It takes special people to tread where ancients have gone, discerning places many pass by, not wishing to peer inside and find the hidden treasures, Sue.

    Like

  3. You are SO lucky to be in the heart of mystical rocks and ancient churches. I’d be just like you. Or worse. I was in England for five weeks in 1979 and I spent about 4-1/2 of those weeks amidst standing stones or in old churches … or tors … or some other ruin.

    Like

  4. noelleg44 says:

    Sue, I’m SO glad you are a churchaholic! I’ve spent many wonderful hours exploring churches with you, and this post is a prime example.

    Like

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    Another gorgeous find, Sue. Such abundance of history, I feel lucky to follow along with you!

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  6. Dalo 2013 says:

    I have to say, I love your son’s description ~ I’ve known many a churchaholic in my day, and as with you they certainly have “some imaginative and innovative theories.” There is something mystical to be found in genuine places and you’ve brought this story to life as only you can. Beautiful piece.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Thank you 🙂 (I never know whether to call you Randall or Dalo.) I do love these old places, and the theories grow from the symbolism we find there… and an odd twist to the mind, perhaps 🙂

      Like

  7. Eileen says:

    What a delight! You took me there with you sharing the beauty and the history of thirst for God. It’s the middle of a sleepless night for me while still recuperating from a shattered shoulder, which has now turned into blessing because I gave up and got up to go on line to pass the time. I have explored England several times, but of course on short trips that only make me hungry for more. America is a beautiful diverse country, but so young by comparison. I confess to a tiny bit of envy of your easy access to such treaures. But am very grateful that you share them so well with us. Thank you.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I never forget how privileged I am to be able to explore so many places that are right on my doorstep, so to speak…and I am glad to be able to record and share them.
      I do hope your shoulder heals well and soon, Eileen…it sounds very painful!

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  8. There’s so much still remaining in exceptional condition for the age of each piece it’s hard to believe. That church is a real gem. Lovely, Sue. 🙂 — Suzanne

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  9. macjam47 says:

    Sue, I am speechless. I can’t image walking into such an amazing church and surroundings.

    Like

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