Sunday 5 September 2021

The Key

Well, here I am in Mercia. And the other day my cousin and I were church crawling in a corner of Lincolnshire, with the particular aim of revisiting one of England's greatest and least-known 17th-century monuments – to Sir Adrian Scrope, almost certainly by the mysterious Epiphanius Evesham. It is in the church of St Leonard, South Cockerington, in an area quite close to the middle of nowhere. The last time we visited, the church was open – but this time no such luck. This was a decisively closed church, the door plastered with deeply depressing Covid-related notices about the impossibility of leaving it open, or doing anything much else that might smack of normal life. I spent a while roundly cursing the pusillanimous Church of England and all its works, and, having despaired of seeing this great monument, we resigned ourselves to moving on. 
  Just then an elderly woman – the only human being we had so far seen in this remote parish – came slowly into view, carrying a bunch of yellow dahlias in a bag. 'You're not after getting into the church, are you?' she asked. We answered firmly in the affirmative. 'You're in luck then,' she replied, and, from the depths of her bag, she produced a magnificent large, heavy key of old-fashioned design, and handed it to me... I could have fallen on her neck and kissed her, and the key, and the ground we stood on.
  We saw our monument, and it never looked better. And when we left there was no sign of the lady who had let us in – who was she? Why was she there? We never knew – but that mighty key was still in the door, proof that this wildly improbable turn of events had indeed happened. It was one of the best moments of all my church-crawling life. 


  1. See The Mother of Beauty (available on Amazon or from for more on this great monument...

    1. I finished reading it last week. Lovely book.

  2. Well, thank you very much. It's good to know it's still being read and enjoyed.