THWACK! It's the cheerful slap of leather on willow as we start another cricket season. Last year was frankly miserable, weather wise, but we were blessed last Sunday with near perfect Spring weather, as we opened with a friendly match in Dorchester-on-thames. I love watching cricket, but sometimes six hours or so sat on the boundary can be a little too much. So I sloped off with my camera to investigate the village centre. Dorchester has it's very own Abbey - and on this Sunday afternoon I had the place entirely to myself. It is small, but ancient; there has been a place of worship here since Saxon times, circa 635. The first altar you see on entering, displays some rare 14th century paintings which miraculously survived Cromwell's thugs.
The floors are paved with memorials and burial stones, from the sublime -
- to the sinister...
...this one being the most heart stopping I have ever read.
'Reader! If thou has a Heart famed for Tenderness and Pity, Contemplate this Spot. In which are desposited the Remains of a Young Lady, whose artless Beauty, Innocence of Mind and gentle Manner once obtain'd her the Love and Esteem of all who knew her. But when Nerves were too delicately spun to bear the rude Shakes and Jostlings which we meet in this transitory World, Nature gave way. She sunk and died a Martyr to Excesive Sensibility. Mrs Sarah Fletcher, Wife of Captain Fletcher, departed this Life at the village of Clifton on the 7 of June 1799 in the 29 year of her age. May her Soul meet that Peace in Heaven which this Earth denied her'.
I wondered (as must have so many others) just what 'rude shakes and jostlings' the poor soul had endured, and sent her a kind thought, because she died so young and so lamented. (EDIT - I've found an almost identical photo on Flickr, with the full and tragic story, here).
Every pew displayed an exquisitely colour co-ordinated set of kneelers and the still Sunday afternoon air was drenched with the heavy scent of lilies from elaborate displays. Quietly I wandered into the Shrine Chapel, where a thirteenth century Crusader knight lies, not on his back in pious prayer, but unusally poised for battle action.
Here too is the shrine to the founder, St Birinus, with bright carvings hidden in the upper niches
The Chancel and the East window are spectacular, but too grandiose for my taste. I prefer the simplicity of stone and paint.
Outside, the sweetest of cottages, sitting slightly wonkily behind the gravestones.
I headed back to the ground, my peaceful touristing done, and returned to a rather more earthly entertainment.
As usual I came prepared with the bare necessities and some work.
It was the first properly warm day of the year and in my sheltered corner I kept half an eye on our chaps, while getting on with the penguins. We won. Andy was 57 not out. He acknowledged his half century with a modest twitch of the bat.
If only it stays this way for the rest of the season.