Thursday, 11 February 2016

On Not Entering the Kingdom of God on Earth

Often it's those places just up the road from you that you never get round to visiting. Such a place is St Saviours Church in Coalpit Heath, designed in the Gothic Revival style by William Butterfield and consecrated in 1845.  I must have driven past it hundreds of times and each time I've thought 'Gah, still haven't been in there.'  Well today - whilst on the road with the dog, whittling away a February half term while electricians rewire the tinder box that is my house - I resolved to put this oversight right. 

First, though, much admiration for the crocuses spreading over the churchyard ... 

... and the snowdrops bursting from graves in wintry sun. 

O glories, glories. And once inside the build-

- but no. Alas, it wasn't open. And after I'd looked on the website too, to check whether it was ever locked. No mention in the porch of whether there was a key-holder nearby either.  Boo. 

Disconsolate, I headed for the church in the neighbouring village of Frampton Cotterell.  St Peter's is a rather splendid Victorian re-build of a much smaller mediaeval church, with a tower dating from 1315.  I'd heard the stained glass was good, so I decided to have a look, but not before I'd had a fossick in the churchyard. 

At first I was a little surprised at the grandeur of this tomb, inhabited by William Tillett, Parish Quarryman, but of course he'd have had access to much stone and mates who could work it for him, and so it is entirely unsurprising after all.  

Much of this magnificent headstone is illegible but the first part reads:

Sacred to the memory of MARY Dau of JOHN & RACHEL TOVEY of this Parish who died 29 Jan 1802 Aged 15 Years 

The incumbent of this grave has clearly sublet part of it. 

When I went to go into the church for a bit of a poke about (and for Ted to spend some time in quiet reflection), I was stopped by the sight of four scooters in the porch and the sound of muffled yet still piping voices emanating from inside. Half term. Still, at least the building was in use and not locked against allcomers.  And I'm going to have to come back another time anyway.