A Wild and Sacred Beauty

I realised today that I was in danger of missing my favourite month of the year; May for me is like Christmas - I cannot wait for it to arrive, spend weeks in anticipation of it and miss it dreadfully when it is (all too quickly) over. However, I have to earn my mortgage every month and that means working (making and selling) pretty much all day and every day, with no guaranteed results. The only sure result is that I am constantly tired and anxious. So this morning, with my inner batteries feeling totally flat and my creativity at a low, I pumped dear old Marjorie's tyres up for the first time this year and we set off for a short jaunt to a  tiny village across the way, turning off the main road and up into this narrow, high banked lane, which has been here for centuries. 

I stopped to inspect this huge polypore fungus which has been here for a while. It is just sending out a 'baby' underneath, which feels cool and tender as opposed to the main body, which is hard and powdery. The hedge-rowed banks were sprouting ferns and all the winsome Spring flowers were speckling the greenery - Red Campion, White Stitchwort, Bluebells and Buttercups. Further up the hill and the best of all, the creamy froth of Queen Anne's Lace lining the lane all the way to my destination. This is richness. This is freedom.

All Saints Church at Berrington is small, but beautiful - and ancient. Unusually, it sits within a raised circular enclosure, leading to suggestions that there may have been an even older older scared grove here, before the first Christian church was built. The grounds certainly have a magical, secret garden atmosphere. I parked Marjorie in the foyer and went to explore.  

The older, original part of the churchyard has been left to gently wild, with slim pathways cut through for access to still tended plots. There is an abundance of Hawthorn, which drips blossom laden branches and scents the air heavily.

To the side, there is a venerable yew tree guarding a small gate, with views to the surrounding countryside.

The original church is recorded in the Domesday book of 1086, however the present church was built in the 13th Century and like most British churches, has had many alterations and additions since. Inside, I was drawn like a bee to the Norman (or possibly Saxon) font, which stands upon a Roman pillar. I counted the faces carved around it, instinctively thinking that there would be seven - and so there were. There is no record of who or what the faces depict, that I can find.

I sat on a pew in the still peacefulness and had a little think and a prayer, my thoughts returning as they so often do to Andy and how he would have loved this place and the mysterious faces around the stone font. 

I am only just feeling more like myself after over ten years of finding myself alone in a strange county. Time has (to some extent) healed, but there is still a deep scar.

Outside, the sun had risen high and after quietly closing the old wooden gates, I had a last look at the wild loveliness of the churchyard. Feeling much better for my adventure, I cycled home.

I am indebted to the 'Friends of Berrington Church' website for much of my information; if you'd like to read more of it's long history, do give it a visit. 

(If you are one of my Patreon subscribers, there is a more in-depth account of the church interior here).


School on the Heath said...

Beautiful beautiful Shropshire,

Thank you Gretel.
Avril Tyrrell

Shrimpton and Perfect said...

What a fab day out. You were lucky the church was open. All too often they feel they have to close outside of services. I can imagine you flying through the countryside on trusty Marjorie blowing away the cobwebs.

Unknown said...

I absolutely love visiting old churches. I take my cat in a backpack and let her out for an explore around the church, such a great thing to do.


Granny Sue said...

I am so glad you got out! Thank you for sharing the church, it is lovely. Earning a living , necessary but so tiresome.

Mary, Windy Meadows Farm said...

So lucky to have stumbled upon your blog...the countryside looks lovely, and often a day out in nature is just what we need to restore our sense of peace. I'm truly envious...where you are is on my wish list (I'm in the Midwest of the USA) but I'm sure if I ever visit, I'll never want to come home. Thanks for the beautiful photos, Mary

Donna said...

What a beautiful part of the country!
I'm sorry for your loss...

Gerry Snape said...

Such a great post Gretel ...and what a beautiful part of this country xx

Saffa Barkhordar said...

What a beautiful walk. That church and the yard are inspiring to read about, thank you for sharing it here. I do enjoy reading about your adventures ✨ glad you got to have a restorative jaunt, it's so important isn't it to set aside time to relax, xxx