Silent Sunday….. A very quiet Church

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Trumpan Church, Isle of Skye.

High on the cliff top, at the tip of the Waternish peninsula, overlooking the sweep of  the beautiful Ardmore Bay.  All located towards the north end of the Isle of Skye.  Take the narrow roads across open crofting country and you will stumble upon these ruins of Trumpan Church.  Even though the ruins are a skeleton of a building, it must have been substantial for its time, which all came to a terrible end in 1578.

Its history is much more tied to Scottish Clan rivalry and battle, than any religious foundation.  It is a part of Scottish History…… so here you have a precis of some very bloody events that occurred in this remote and tranquil setting.

Scottish history is littered with accounts of violent feuds between the Clans, in this case it is the MacLeod’s of Dunvegan, Skye and the MacDonald Clan. In 1577 the MacLeod’s raided the Island of Eigg where a community of MacDonald’s were in residence, outnumbered the MacDonald’s took refuge in a cave and this was their undoing. The MacLeod’s set a great fire to burn at the entrance to the cave and all 395 MacDonald’s in the cave suffocated.

Revenge was much in the minds of Clan MacDonald of Uist who waited till May the following year 1578.  They picked the time well, waiting for a large gathering of MacLeod’s in a service in Trumpan Church.  They approached by boats and moored in Ardmore Bay, in the shelter of the cliffs on which the Church is located.  Whilst the MacLeod’s worshiped the MacDonald barricaded the door and set fire to the Thatched roof…. all but one within died.  The one to escape was a young girl,  she managed to squeeze through a narrow window, but not without losing one of her breasts.  She ran 10 miles to Dunvegan, the MacLeod’s Clan Chiefs home, to raise the alarm.

On hearing the news, the MacLeod’s gathered a large force with revenge once more on their minds.  They caught the MacDonald’s on the beach where their ships were moored, their escape foiled due to a receding tide leaving their ships high and dry.  All the MacDonald’s were killed.  The bodies of the dead MacDonald’s were lined up beside a dry stone wall (known as a dyke) and were buried by pushing the dyke onto the bodies….This battle was recorded in Scottish History as  ‘The Battle of the Spoiling of the Dyke’.

The township was abandoned .  The Church ruins and the record of yet another Clan Massacre are all that remain.

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Despite its bloody past it is a place of beauty.  Surrounded by crofting hay meadows that are full of wild flowers and herbage in the summer months, it can look idyllic. Even on a wild and windy day it has a magical atmosphere .

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When you stand in the ruins,  you may well experience a feeling a calm, spiritual tranquillity…..  also very hard to comprehend the brutality of  those past events.  Then again, maybe not so hard to believe, not when you consider all the violent atrocities that have and still do continue across our world

And now more than ever

Please Remember ….

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

7th June

(C) David Oakes 2020

Silent Sunday…… Off To Church

It is some years since I started the occasional Sunday ‘Off to Church’  postings.  When I started I made the point that it was not as a result of any religious commitment  nor would I make any religious comment.

Churches, in the widest concept, includes Chapels, Abbey’s , Cathedrals, Places of Worship of any Faith….. have and are a part of our communities.  All provide a light on our Historical Heritage.  Building, culture and faith all in one location.  These religious building, probably more than any other construction, provide a direct link back to our earliest recorded history, buildings that today are still used as they were many many centuries ago.

One such Church we visited many years ago, is the very tiny Church of Saint Boniface.

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The Church is located on the Isle of Wight in the village of Bonchurch.  There has been a settlement here almost since time began.  Stone Age settlements and Roman occupation have been recorded.   The Domes Day Book records the name of Bonercerce.   It is in the 8th century that Saint Boniface arrives on the island. Saint Boniface built a strong following in the area and in the 9th century a wooden church was built.  It is believed to be an older site of worship.  This first church was dedicated to Boniface.

It is on this same site that  in the 11th century a small stone church was built.

That church still exists and is used today….  a direct and continuous historical ink.

Over the centuries there have been some modifications.  A Bell Cote with Bell were added in the 16th century.  Then in the 19th century a Porch Doorway was added.

What hasn’t changed is  that services and weddings can be held by candle light as no electricity has been added.  Yes, the Church is still in use today.

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The Church is also referred to in Bonchurch as ” Old Saint Boniface Church”. That definition is important.  As the population and importance of Bonchurch grew and NEW Saint Boniface Church was built and opened in 1848.  There followed some talk of demolishing the Old Saint Boniface, thankfully common sense prevailed.  Special occasional services, including weddings, continue the link between Saint Boniface’s and the community.

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To stand in this nave and look around, you stand in history.  You stand in the shadows of so many that have come before you, to stand in this very spot.  It may well be small by comparison to say a Cathedral,  but  it is equally as inspiring and full of a special aura.

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If you ever visit the Isle of Wight, and amongst all the island treasures and beauty spots, do find time to head to Bonchurch.  Find the narrow  wooded lane that leads down the hillside and discover this little gem of history.

Maybe, no matter if you are religious or not,  spare some time to evaluate the times we currently live in today…

Please Remember ….

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

31st May

(C) David Oakes 2020

 

 

 

Silent Sunday…… A rather fine Old Derbyshire Church

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Hartington Village, Derbyshire

The Parish Church of Saint Giles stands high above the village of Hartington. The foundations and main building date back to  circa 1250.  As always it is thought to have been built on an even earlier religious site.

Step inside. You are at the west end of the nave and you get the first impression of  not just the impressive size, but the importance to the village but the wider community.

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Standing at the chancel you get an even better impression of the age of the church.

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The massive stain glass window, behind the alter, is a relatively new addition.  Installed in 1848 and is the work of the Glass Artist Thomas Wilmshurst.

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There are other decorated windows.  The one I think I like the best is this very simple window in the south transept.  Plain glass was once more common in church windows.  This has had a later addition.  I was not able to find its attributed to any artist but the angels are very much of the style of the main window.  The roundel lower down is even later and I am told made from much older glass  (recycled perhaps)

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Finally before you leave Saint Giles, look up and admire some early wall decorations.  It was this style of wall décor that once graced not only all these walls but was a practice in many churches across the country

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As always in these rather different times…

Please Remember ….

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

17th May

(C) David Oakes 2020