Monday, 2 June 2014

Broxted And Chickney

Having said farewell but not goodbye - we'll meet them later - to the Morris dancers, I set off down narrow and half-forgotten ways which will, hopefully, lead us eventually to Thaxted. But not just yet...

This is how all our roads must have been in medieval times, I suppose. Watch out for highwaymen and cut-purses! I met a fox, an owl and a rabbit - sounds like a fairytale, I know - and passed an occasional isolated house.

This one had what looked like the remains of an old moat around it. At length these hidden by-ways led me to my intended destination, the ancient, sequestered and abandoned little church of the seemingly non-existent village of Chickney.

You'd need a very detailed map and a certain amount of persistence to find it at all, as it stands, concealed by trees, at the end of a farm track.

A more peaceful place could not be imagined. The body of the church is Saxon and has not been used for many years. It's in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and we should be able to take a peek inside...

The interior is rather spartan and austere, as churches in the care of the Trust often are, but I was surprised to see this beautiful little organ still in place....

Chickney is now part of Broxted parish and the present church is just a short distance away and has something more modern to be seen.

Again it's a very old church but inside it's well cared for and still in regular use.

There's a fine seventeenth-century pulpit...

And a somewhat-attractive-if-probably-not-very-old Madonna and Child...

But it's a pair of modern stained-glass windows that interest most visitors....

They are commonly known as "The Hostage Windows". On the left, dark, grey and gloomy is "The Captivity Window" and on the right the exuberant colours of "The Freedom Window". They commemorate the captivity and eventual release of the Beruit hostages, John McCarthy, Terry Waite and Brian Keenan. John McCarthy's mother lived in Broxted and the church became a place of prayer and vigil during their captivity. 

Then it was back on the bike to pedal towards Thaxted until two of the towns most famous landmarks appeared miraculously on the horizon.

Take care.


  1. Love those windows. I still remember vividly the pain of those hostage years and read the amazing books that were written afterwards.

  2. is like a fairytale ... at least the lovely church is being cared for, and the second church also looks grand...made of stones? The finale' shot is amazing too. Carole

  3. Hello John,
    I have perused your posts in past days for the joy of armchair traveling to olden places and events described so nicely by a lovely writer. Thank you from an old soul for this pleasure.
    Ann in Canada

  4. Those are very interesting stained glass windows!

  5. The windows are really interesting. I'm glad that the congregation had the chance to install the freedom window. It would have been devastating if only the captivity window had been installed.

  6. A lovely post, John. I want to visit those churches! I think you should explore the theme of those you met on the way - the fox, owl and rabbit?! And I'm looking forward to seeing Thaxted Mill, which I visited many years' ago.

  7. Glad we are nearly there John - I want some reminders. Although I did enjoy your stops on the way.

  8. How fun to walk down the old road and imagine long-ago times. The empty church must have been unused for a long time as the ceiling light fixture is a candle holder. And what a surprise in the last photo to see a windmill!

  9. A lovely old church, I really like those windows.


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