Silent Sunday…… Two Churches in one small Location

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Saint Peters Church, Heysham Head, Morecambe Bay, Lancashire

Heysham is a rather quaint old village, on a headland, that juts out into Morecambe Bay.  On the top of that headland is this 11th century Church of Saint Peters.  A distinctive Bellcote tower with two bells, an equally distinctive Anglo Saxon Doorway and the solid Stone Slate roof create a solid character. The origins are indeed 11th century, but study the building outline you can soon detect the additions and extensions added over the following centuries.

Saint Peters is still  Hesham’s  Village Church….. but only a few yards behind the Church, and even more prominently locate on this exposed headland, are further signs of  even earlier religious occupancy.

The most dramatic are the tombs (or graves) that have been carved out of a sold rock.  Known at times as the Martyrs Graves and by others as the Pilgrims Graves, they lie on the highest point of Heysham Head.  Exposed to all the wind and weather that Morecambe Bay can deliver from across the Irish Sea…..possibly the same winds the assisted Saint Patrick on his journey from Ireland.

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Dating these stone hewn graves is problematic.  Let me try to explain.  These graves rest beneath the shadows of Saint Patricks Chapel.  Possibly built in either the 6th or 7th century and attributed to Saint Patrick.  However,  historical records still find it hard to be definitive on the exact date of Saint Patricks death, a time arround 490ad is very likely. Whatever that date is, it is still 100 or more years before the Chapel was built.

Saint Patricks Chapel has not worn as well as Saint Peters.  The chapel is now a ruin… all be it, ruin with a great outlook.

As with most religious locations across the UK, they are usually on the sites of much earlier places of worship or spiritual importance.  Various archaeological digs have taken place to try and discover the heritage of this Heysham location. Excavations arround the Stone Tombs did discover artifacts and tools, these would indicate that this site was occupied over 12,000 years ago.

One thing is for sure, no matter the legends and mysteries, these twin Religious ‘settlements’ capture the imagination of any visitor, and with a bonus view over Morecambe Bay, that must lift the spirits,

Please Remember to ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

21st February

(C) David Oakes 2021

Silent Sunday….. Hiding within the Castle Walls

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Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight

Within the Castle Walls at Carisbrooke, can be found a wonderful and distinctively different small Chapel.  The Chapel is dedicated to Saint Nicholas….  and whilst is has been built on the site of a much older Chapel, the Chapel you see today was only built in 1904.  

The Chapels construction is a little unusual.  Long, narrow and very tall. 

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But when you enter please note the mirror on the floor of the nave.  Then either, look down into the mirror or up to the heavens, and you will find the incredible painted ceiling…

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It was of course not long after the Chapel was dedicated, that the 1st World War began. After the hostilities finished, it must have seemed very appropriate for the residents of the Isle of Wight, who had lost many in the conflict, to see Saint Nicholas adopted as a War Memorial for the Islands dead.

As a War Memorial  it is a special location, a very safe location in an equally unique setting.

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This Sunday, like every day…..

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

7th February

(C) David Oakes 2021

Silent Sunday…….. Off to Church

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St. Michaels Chapel, Rame Head, Cornwall

Many years ago, when we were walking a part of the Cornish Coastal Path, we approached Rams Head.  It is a rocky outcrop that protrudes into the English Chanel and because of it high elevation also has a clear view down to Plymouth Sound.

As we approached we could see a Stone building at the highest vantage point.  We were to discover that this building was in fact called St. Michaels Chapel.

But the Chapel was not the first construction on this summit.  As far back as the Bronze and Iron Ages there has been a Hill Fort on this very spot. Not a bad strategic position, commanding expansive views  across both sea and land.  The building of the Chapel is ascribed to St. German and dates back to 981.

The weather and age has taken its toll on the Chapel, but I suspect it has always been very utilitarian building.  Apart from a place for prayer, I guess it was also a place of sanctuary for travellers and pilgrims providing basic shelter from the weather.

St. Michaels may not be the most imposing of buildings, but what cannot be denied is its spectacular location. It has proven to be an important vantage point.  During the 2nd World War it played an important roll, as a Coastal Lookout Point, in the efforts to safeguard  Plymouth Sound and its Navel base.  But it is also said, that it was from here, in 1588, that the first sightings of the Spanish Armada was made.  Warning were sent down to Sir Francis Drake, who legend tells, was playing Bowls on Plymouth Sound and despite the imminent challenge,  insisted on finishing his game. True or not,… its great yarn.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

31st January

(C) David Oakes 2021

Silent Sunday…….The Last Sunday of 2020

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The Church of Saint Lawrence, Eyam, Derbyshire

This is the last Sunday of 2020….. no matter where you live in this world, it has been a strange and dangerous year.  We have all experienced restrictions and carried worries for ourselves, friends and family. 

With that very much in mind I thought it appropriate to revisit some images of St. Lawrence, the village Church of Eyam, Derbyshire.

The significance is that back 1665, the village of Eyam, placed itself in quarantine…..  in 2020 language that translates to ‘Lockdown’.  A outbreak of The Plague was discovered. Knowing just how deadly the Plague would be the village cut itself off from all its neighbouring villages.  

The Church, and in particular the Minister, the Rev. William Mompesson became the focus for the village.

In brief.  The village set up locations on the outskirts where food could be left for the village.  Contact was restricted. The dead were buried in adjacent fields or even gardens.  Sunday Church Services were held outdoors in a nearby valley.

Of the village population of 350, only 83 survived.  Since then Eyam has always been known as the Plague Village.

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The Church remains at the heart of the village and those days of the Plague are commemorated each year, with of course,,this year 2020 being particularly poignant.

Round this beautiful, and now peaceful,  village there are reminders of those days when the people of Eyam made such a sacrifice.  Many of the cottages have a plaque on the wall listing the names of those who died.  A sad story, but one if given the opportunity, is worth pursuing should you be in the Derbyshire area.  

Just a little about the Church.   St. Lawrence’s dates back to 13th century.  There is a large Saxon Cross in the Graveyard and medieval Wall Paintings high on the walls within.  A modern Stained Glass window has a memorial in pictures of the village.  A rather charming Church and worth a visit even without the knowledge of its key role in 1665 Plague

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Soon we say ‘goodbye’ to 2020… but the memories and consequences will live on. Like Eyam, our actions will be talked about in centuries to come.  

It is just as important today as then to think of others

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

27th December

(C) David Oakes 2020

 

 

Silent Sunday….Off to the Kirke

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Saint Mary’s Church, Bergen, Norway

Many of the streets in Bergen are narrow, so when you turn a corner, the scale and bold frontage of Saint Mary’s Church does rather take you by surprise.  Origins are 12 century.  The architectural style is a mix of Gothic but mainly Romanesque, its bold white twin towers contrast well with the heavy stone.

A very different bold statement to that of Wells Cathedral featured in last Sundays post, but a similar generation and equally as dramatic and imposing .

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

13th December

(C) David Oakes 2020