Saturday, 18 February 2012

Friday walk and Friends of Friendless Churches

Our Friday walk was in Essex this week and we enjoyed the warm spring sunshine as we exercised the dogs before starting our drive back to the south west. The Curate and I have had an excellent week visiting friends and family. The week started with a blanket of snow and ended with warm sunshine.... and there was very little rain all week. 

We have spent the week walking around the huge flat fields to the fishing lakes that were very near to our lovely cottage. The owners had told us about an abandoned church that could be reached by walking along the disused railway line. I am always intrigued by ruins and abandoned buildings and I have collected quite a portfolio of photographs  - often of houses in remote situations that I like to imagine myself living in!
This railway line was closed as part of the Beeching Axe in 1964. All over the country the remains of the rural railway lines can be seen. Some routes have been retained as footpaths or cycle ways and you can only imagine the scenic journeys that could have been enjoyed. The great advantage is that these derelict routes make excellent flat paths. It was along one of these branch lines that we walked up to St Peter's church which was set off the road, along a track. 

The dogs enjoyed the warm weather and we appreciated  the flat walk after all our climbs on Dartmoor. The Collie chased squirrels and rabbits, we enjoyed views of the surrounding countryside and the Lakeland was just grateful for an easier walk! There were few visible signs of spring - only the willow beginning to bud and the occasional snowdrop daring to show itself after the snowfall of last week. The landscape was dotted with huge oak trees that were tall and majestic and were hundreds of years old. The fields stretched into the distance and we saw flocks of Brent geese and the occasional Egyptian geese raiding the winter wheat crop.
After a short walk we saw the abandoned church across the field. The unkempt graveyard was carpeted with snowdrops but it did look in a sorry state. This church dates from the 12th Century but was declared redundant in 1970. In its remote situation this church had become a target for vandals and the window was smashed. I was interested to see the notice board  said that it was leased to the Friends of Friendless Churches. This is the first time I had heard of this group and  I was interested to see how they try to rescue neglected churches. I fear that there will be many more old church buildings that will fall into disuse as congregations shrink. The location of many of the historic churches, often outside the main residential areas, is not ideal for encouraging regular worship. They are historic buildings and a legacy that The Church of England has to deal with, so I am so glad that there are Friends of Friendless Churches.
We have had a lovely week in Essex. The Curate and I love the mud flats and the majestic barges. We appreciate the wide open skies and the never ending fields. We have enjoyed the company of old friends and family and we have enjoyed 'touching base' with where we both come from. 

 Are we ready to go back .......who knows?


  1. Glad you've had such a splendid week, Harriet. Yes, the Friends of Friendless Churches do a great job given the difficulties they work under.

  2. Glad you had such a lovely week,and that you shared the pictures.

  3. Harriet, I am glad you all had such a wonderful week! Your photos are so fascinating. And your description of the closed railway lines reminded me of the final scenes of the movie, Fahrenheit 451, where the book community is living by abandoned railway lines.

  4. Lovely pictures from your week in Essex.
    Jem looks so cute and " at home " in both posts, on the snow and the mud; ).
    Planning and making decisions can be time consuming..

  5. Lovely photos. And how sad about the church.

  6. Wide open skies & never ending fields....made me feel quite nostalgic. I'd move back up there if I could. I wonder if we'll all end up there one day?

  7. I was delighted to learn of The Friends of Friendless Churches. My heart ached to see the vandalism to the empty church.