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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Saturday 15 September 2018

More a Poem than a Church

After dropping Son the Elder off in Gloucester the other day, but before going to Tewkesbury, I went to Brockhampton in Herefordshire to see a building I'd wanted to visit for 25 years ago but had never got around to. 

It's always a risk when you finally realise a long-held desire. I don't much care for Disappointment.

But All Saints Church was snoozing in the sun like an interesting dragon ...

... and when I encountered Ivor in the porch ...

... and saw the hinges of the door, I knew it was going to be fine. 

And it was. In fact, it was more than fine, it was sublime. 

All Saints was designed and built in 1901-2 by William Lethaby, whose pupil Randall Wells built St Edward's at Kempley, another nearby Arts and Crafts Church. 

This is better, though. I can't recall ever feeling so at home in a place before. 

The font

As I wandered around, I was very aware of how perfectly everything fitted together - the oak and stone, shadow and sun, beauty and utility. There was a palpable presiding spirit in the place: if not God, then definitely William Morris.

The embroidery was donated anonymously to the Church in 1960, and comprises of an altar frontal, some seating covers and hymn book covers.

It is, shall we say, a little less expert than the exquisite work produced by the likes of Jane and May Morris, but what a generous gift. Already I was feeling tearful. 

The alms box

Window by Christopher Whall, showing incidents in the lives of St Cecilia and St Margaret of Scotland

Detail of window

16th century Flemish triptych

Mason's mark

Russian icon, early 19th century

Mediaeval stained glass salvaged from the old church

The crossing tower

Christopher Whall window in the transept

Choir stalls ... 

... with carving by George Jack

The Sanctuary

Tapestries woven by Morris & Co, to designs by Edward Burne Jones

Alabaster sculpture of the Madonna

East window by Christopher Whall

View of the Nave from the Sanctuary


By now a couple of other visitors had arrived and I was still in a state of high emotion, so I went back out into the churchyard and sat on a mossy tree root to collect myself. A pair of buzzards were spiralling overhead.

I felt as though I could see every turning leaf and hear the worms beneath me chomping through earth.
And when the other visitors left, I knew I couldn't go back in. What if I did and it was still so overwhelming that I lost it and couldn't drive to my next destination? What if I did and it wasn't? Neither outcome seemed bearable. 

There will come a time when the risk will feel worth taking. I'll be back then.

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