Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Surprise in the Churchyard

Crumbling rustic buildings, ancient churches, old churchyards - I love them all.

Today I visited a very small and ancient church which is set high on a hill in the lovely Lincolnshire Wolds, surrounded by farmyard buildings.   Perfection!    I had never been there before, but I had read about it in a tatty old book and it sounded interesting, so off we went.

A single track road with occasional passing places led to a small village.    I had a rough idea of the location but was helped by this clear sign on the side of the road.      We followed the pointing finger along a grass track to a very pretty parking area next to a lovely old house with a walled garden and lots of beautiful, mellow,  old farm buildings.

It was the most surprising entrance to a churchyard - with these fabulous old buildings and a tennis court on one side

and this glorious view down into the valley on the other side.    In between is the church, but that is for another day.

Manicured grass on one side, a little wild on the other.

I love everything about this little churchyard.

These delicious old buildings with their crumbling brickwork, peeling woodwork, sharp angles and old pantiles and lime mortar.

The gravestones were fascinating.   I particularly liked this block of stone, solid, no nonsense.   There is a much more modern version of it, made from granite.  It may last forever and look immaculate, but it doesn't have the charm of this 50 year old stone.  You can see the modern one in the next photograph - a simple block of granite - beautiful in its' simplicity, but too unchanging for me.

I like to wander around, read the names and dates, think about the people.   I got something of a surprise though, for I found a headstone bearing the name of a friend from our village.   She passed away three years ago.

Sheila was in her early 80's, but seemed much younger - a busy, intelligent, no-nonsense woman with a great sense of humour.   A village stalwart.    Max and I attended her funeral, it was held in the local market town, three or four miles away from Parsonage Cottage.  The large parish church was packed to the rafters for she was a well known and well liked woman.

I had no idea that she was buried here.

When we tried the church door, it was locked.   Somehow, it didn't seem to matter.  With the views, the wonderful gravestones and the crumbling farm buildings we were content.

However, the woman who lives in the very large farmhouse next door came through the arched doorway (visible in the second and fifth photographs) and offered to open the church up for us.

We got chatting, mentioned our surprise at finding the marker for our friend - and spent a happy five minutes reminiscing about her, for she had known her, too.      It seems that Sheila and her husband had farmed just a few fields away, their plot overlooked their old farm.

This wheelbarrow load of geraniums was parked outside the church door.   It had formed part of the decorations for a recent wedding.  Utterly charming and perfect for this location.

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