Monday, 24 February 2014

Distant Hymns

A dozen or so years ago I was travelling across Cowbit Wash between Crowland and Spalding in the Lincolnshire Fens. A sudden kink in the road and I glanced to my right and saw this little red brick chapel slowly sinking into the grass verge. Readers of my Pastoral Peculiars will probably recognise it as an 1895 Wesleyan Chapel, and remember that not long afterwards I drove by and it had been completely erased from the landscape. Only a pile of orange bricks lay in the grass, incised with the name of a local brickyard- Peakirk. One of which of course now resides in a dark corner at Ashley Towers.

Why do I mention it again now? Well, I found the 35mm transparency in an old biscuit tin this morning, and I have demolition on my mind after having seen in quick succession the excellent and ever entertaining Jonathan Meades' mourning of the destruction of examples of 'brutalist' architecture, and the sad but inspiring documentary on the incomparable Ian Nairn. (Catch both on the iPlayer thing if you're quick.) And it prompted the thought that as cooling towers and unloved shopping centres are subhumed in piles of grey dust, we should spare a thought for these tiny and apparently unloved buildings. I was brought up being sat down on uncomfortable pitch pine pews in places like this, particularly on holidays when a search for a Baptist Chapel ended up by us being herded into Primitive Methodist strongholds that were often both remote and alarmingly eccentric. So I know a little bit of how it was here. Small boys (and of course girls) staring out at waving wheat on a summer's evening, fingering the peg doll or tin toy in the pocket and wondering if the interminable sermon would ever come to its conclusion, and the quiet fields could once again echo with shouts of gleeful relief as they run down the lane.


Lemon Kelly said...

Bejeezus!! I'd given up! Where've you been? How the devil are you sir? Damn fine to have you back. I'd missed your beacon of cultural sanity on these here vast deserts of Caliban.

Peter Ashley said...

I was back some time ago Lemon! What a Tempest you must've been enduring.

Auriel Ragmon said...

You just reminded me of those peculiar people, the Quivverers, of
Cold Comfort Farm!

James Morgan
follerer but not much of a commenter
Olympia, WA USA

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