Thursday, 12 September 2013

Church crawling

Jenkins to hand, Caroline and I set off inland today on a wet morning to look at two churches with seven stars between them. Even looking at lesser churches in Cornwall gives me great pleasure, if only for their churchyards' old slate tombstones: they last long enough to reveal much fine lettering still.

Getting to Blisland was itself a delightful journey of discovery, passing garden-gate produce stalls, ancient signposts and through a maze of narrow lanes. The church is almost worth visiting for its name alone: the only one dedicated to the brothers Protus and Hyacinth, whose feast was yesterday. John Betjeman raved about the Victorian screen, which runs gaudily across the entire width of the church. I especially liked looking up to the giddy-making wagon roof of the nave.

Blisland has a newish community building to boast of also: a vast shed, housing shop, post office, café with internet and large screen, doctor's surgery... all run, it's said, on as little energy as possible. There's a sign pointing out the cost of a drive to the nearest supermarket: "Shop here and save yourself a fiver."

St Neot's church is more celebrated even than Blisland's - "the cathedral of the Moor" - on account of its mediaeval stained glass. But it seemed less welcoming to me, possibly because of the sign forbidding unauthorised use of the photographs we visitors take. It's not as if there's a decent choice amongst the church's own photographic postcards. And anyway, dissemination of religious images is all part of spreading the Gospel surely! Why alienate visitors in this way?

Yes, the glass is interesting, especially the Old Testament scenes (Eden and Noah in particular). But give me Fairford any day.

During our stay, we met the owner of a remote Cornish home, who was moaning about a proposed wind turbine. "Only 450 yards away, and it will take £100,000 off my house," she had complained. We happened to pass by the property on our way to Blisland: it's sunk in a deepish, very wooded valley. Even if she's right about the loss in value - surely doubtful - you have to ask how many people in less fortunate circs. would give their eye teeth to be able to arrest an unwanted "development" within 450 yards of where they live; and to question whether one individual should be able to elevate her property rights above the needs of the world for more renewable energy. This, along with the extreme "whiteness" of the retired and holidaying community down here in Cornwall.

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