Friday 30 April 2021

A Church!

 Yesterday, for the first time in months, I found a church standing open to all, with only minimal precautions, and no one on hand to harry the incautious or shepherd us round a prescribed route. It gave me a quite unexpectedly intense surge of pleasure, making me realise how much I'd missed the simple pleasure of walking into a church and having a good look around – something we took for granted in those dear dead days before Lockdown. 
I was with my Derbyshire cousin, taking a day trip to lovely Lichfield, and we thought we'd go and have a look at the nearby canalside village of Alrewas (a name that reads like an anagram).  And there it was – the open church, with only hand sanitiser and a cordoned-off chancel to mark the strange times we live in. It was, in a sense, the perfect building to remind us of the suspended delights of church crawling – small-scale, unpretentious, but full of interest, with a couple of Norman doorways, an Early English chancel, 14th-century nave, west tower and south aisle, and, from the 16h century, clerestory windows and a fine carved wooden roof. Also a 17th-century pulpit, a bit of 15th-century wall painting, and a beautifully coloured east window in Morris style (by Henry Holiday). A typically, gloriously English miscellany. But the chief delight was not in the detail but in the sheer joy of paying an impromptu, unimpeded, unshepherded visit to an English parish church. May this be a harbinger of freedom to come, and a return – at last – to normal human life.

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