Saturday, 26 November 2011

A small stone

My first 'small stone' for a while:
Cornish Country Quietness
The surf booms on
the three-mile distant coast.
Felt as much as heard.
Birds sing outside my window
in the mild winter.
Reminders of the joy of being

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A personal pilgrimage to Deerhurst

Deerhurst Church was a favourite place of my mother's and since she died I have had her watercolour painting of the church on my office wall. The church was an Anglo-Saxon minster and was already established in 804 AD, there is more about the history of church here. There is a famous carving of an angel dating from the 9th century, and a font dating from the same century with spiral designs.

Recently I had a chance to visit Deerhurst for the first time when I travelled to Gloucestershire for the Euro Coach List Conference (more on that in another blog post and my newsletter). It was an extraordinary and magical day. I am not used to long drives these days and found the drive up the motorway exhausting and nerve-wracking, especially as a lot of the way there was torrential rain and spray from the vehicles making visibility poor and conditions hazardous.

Making my visit involved driving past the conference venue and further north for about 30 miles - but I knew it was important for me to make my pilgrimage to Deerhurst. I had promised myself after my mother died that I would one day and now was my chance. As I left the motorway and drove through the country lanes I prayed to the Deerhurst angel for the rain to stop and my visit to go well. By the time I arrived and parked beside the church gate there was even a gleam of soft sunshine. 

As I walked up the path through the churchyard I could already feel the peace of the place. It is an amazing structure with the different eras of building leaving intriguing features such as doorways halfway up the wall. There was no one else there at all, though I did not feel alone, I could sense all the generations of people who had found peace there. And I could hear my mother telling me not to be sad but to enjoy this ancient place that she had loved so much.

Inside the church I bought cards and guidebooks, then looked at everything mentioned, such a wealth of history there. Ancient stained glass, memorials, and carved brasses set into the floor. The church organ is being restored and the pipes were stacked in neat piles.

The angel carving is hard to find, I had to follow signs around the outside of the church and into  an alcove which was once inside an earlier part of the building, where there is a sign pointing upwards, where I craned my neck to get a look at the carving. It is impossible to get a photo as an ordinary visitor - something that adds to the mystery for me. This link has one of the angel and more photos.

As I drove away from Deerhurst the rain started again as I continued my journey to the conference - more on that soon. As I arrived there the rain stopped - I thought at the time how lucky I was. It was only the next day that I realised exactly how lucky I was - when I saw the news of the terrible multiple accident on the M5 at a spot I had driven through on my way to Deerhurst.