Thursday, 10 December 2015

A Walk: From Darkness To Light

December 9th, 2015, was a gloriously clear, sunny day in East Anglia so I pulled on my rapidly disintegrating boots to go out for a walk. I'd had this walk in reserve for a while, just waiting for the right day. It turned out to be a rich and varied walk, so won't you join me now for the first instalment?

It was dark when I left home to walk down to the railway station. A few stars and a thin sliver of moon showed that already the sky was clear. From the train window Addenbrooke's Hospital was lit up like an ocean liner moored on the outskirts of Cambridge. By the time I'd boarded another train and was heading out towards Newport (the place in Essex, not the one in Wales!) the sky was starting to lighten in the east.


Scarcely out of Newport, right next to the M11 motorway, I encountered the first wonder of the day. Not that many people would realise what this little barn in a field might be....


This is actually St Helen's Chapel, one of the oldest buildings in the East of England dating from the 11th, or possibly even the 10th century. Understandably it's needed a bit of patching up from time to time and has been neglected for long periods while being used as a barn. Nowadays it's a chapel once more and a service is held each year.


From the chapel I took a farm track through woodland and fields towards the church at Rickling. There's very little left of the village which presumably stood here in the past and the church stands in open country with just a few houses nearby.


I'd have liked to have seen inside but it was still only about 08:35 in the morning so it was without much hope that I went to try the door.


Open Sesame! The keyholder must either be a farmer or someone who has to commute to work; you don't usually find churches open before at least nine o'clock. It's so nice outside that I don't want to spend too long in the church, but lets have a quick look around....


A very nice window which an information board tells me was a memorial to a former vicar. But the thing that immediately caught my eye was the reredos, a carved panel behind the altar.


It depicts the adoration of the lamb and was carved in Belgium and brought here in the nineteenth century. I felt somebody was watching me...


There was also some wonderfully rustic carving on the screen which looked a good deal older than the reredos.


Then it was outside once more to continue my walk. A rather dull track alongside an arable field led me to a tiny footbridge, where suddenly the path changed character.


The other side of the bridge there were meadows, thick hedge rows and trees. Almost certainly this land was used for pheasant-shooting. Although the birds can live almost anywhere they thrive best in an "old-fashioned" sort of landscape. While I don't enjoy seeing defenceless birds being blasted out of the skies I can't deny that land managed for them is also beneficial to other wildlife.


And now I have to make my way to the next village of Quendon. 

See you tomorrow.


Take care.



17 comments:

  1. John, what a delightful walk - and to go to it by train too.
    That little church/barn is a gem, as is the church. How lucky you were to find it open.
    Can't wait for the next installment.

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  2. I like the stitching on the thatch of the old chapel -makes the roof look likes it's made out of felt.The people who built the chapel probably never imagined that it would have lasted a thousand years. The church is stolid on the outside, but beautiful and welcoming on the inside. The windows and reredos suit each other perfectly.

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  3. I don't have time to write all I want to about these...I love the church and the carvings are amazing. Just so beautiful...and love the lay of the land where where pheasant hunting is done. I just really enjoyed these.

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  4. And to think while St. Helen Church was being built, Native Americans were building pueblos and cave dwellings here in the southwest of America.

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  5. What a lovely start to the walk - it was a lovely day for it on Wednesday too - I was at work all day, sadly!

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  6. Thank you for bringing us along. Beautiful scenes. The church astonishes me - that it could be still standing after so long. In California, if something is 200 years old people get really excited about it!

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  7. That country church is a lovely find! I enjoyed sharing this walk with you.

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  8. This walk has a lot of promise. The wood carvings inside the church are the most interesting features so far, to me.

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  9. Lookin' good! Can't believe buildings 1000 years old!

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  10. You do find places and structures that other seems to overlook - and thank you very much for that. And thank you for sharing it with us!

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  11. The church is gorgeous inside! I love the stained glass window and the carved details.

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  12. You are so lucky to have unlocked churches there and we are lucky that you take photos of them so we can see them too. It's heartwarming that St Helen's Chapel is in use again and that someone is keeping it repaired.

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  13. What a beautiful place to explore. Love seeing the sunny blue skies there too. We've had rain the whole month of December so far, and more on the way.

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  14. What a beautiful walking-photos.

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  15. Beautiful reredos, what a treasure in a small church.

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  16. I have trouble starting a journey at daybreak, but I'm glad you made this one to share with your readers. I especially like the photo which appears to have been taken from the window of the train just as color began to return.

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