We were up early next morning and were cheerful about an email we’d had, telling us that the friends we had found over breakfast on our first morning in Scotland would be joining us for the December workshop in Derbyshire. We had talked about leys, geometry and dragons and left wishing we had more time to talk. And now, once again, we were ready to leave straight after breakfast… which just about left us time to wander up the through the marketplace to Holy Trinity church. It stands just outside the gates of Skipton Castle, looking down the length of the main street. We would have nowhere near long enough… as had been the case everywhere on this trip… but it would be enough to see what was hidden within the golden stone, still wearing the dark traces of Victorian industry.
There was always a close association between secular and religious power and it almost seems as if the positioning of the church sends a whole series of messages to those who approach the castle gates. Was the castle saying that the church was under its protection or was the church giving its blessing to the denizens of the castle? Or were they simply presenting a united front and saying, ‘here is power…’?
The church would have been a wooden affair to begin with, built to serve the early incarnation of the castle almost a thousand years ago. Around 1300, the present church was raised and later extended. As with so many of our ancient churches, the traces of time are still visible in altered doorways, rooflines, and the general evolution of a building at the heart of a community.
The church was damaged in the Civil War, losing much of its glass and, until then, its interior was decorated with medieval wall paintings, of which only the hand of Death now remains. Most of our wall paintings were lost to the dictates of Cromwell. As if that were not enough, the church was struck by lightning in 1853 and again in 1925. Yet, as you walk in through the doors, you are confronted with something that seems both curiously whole and just as it should be.
The first thing you see is the original font; plain, unadorned and as old as the church itself. Above it hands an ornate Jacobean cover, carved at around the time the first British colonies were founded in America. Behind it, the base of the tower has been opened up to create a memorial area, flying the colours of the Duke of Wellington’s regiment. A board commemorates the dead of the WWII, while the window pays tribute to those who lost their lives in the Great War.
Continue reading at France & Vincent