Saturday, December 6, 2008

Farmcote, Gloucestershire


The end of the road

Take the steepest and narrowest of the roads leading out of the town where I live, a route that rises rapidly up the Cotswold escarpment. Turn left along a narrower lane that leads up again through remote country dotted with the odd farm and racehorse stable and bounded with fields where the brown ploughed soil reveals thousands of fragments of Cotswold limestone. Turn off once more up an even smaller lane that passes sheep pastures and offers glimpses from the high hills northwards and westwards towards Worcestershire and Wales. And at the end of the track you reach Farmcote, a tiny, isolated hamlet consisting of a few stone houses and a church.

From this angle, St Faith’s, Farmcote, could almost be a Tudor building – the windows and doorway are probably early-16th century and the furnishing inside is a satisfying mixture of Tudor and Jacobean. But in the end wall is a blocked archway indicating that this building was once bigger. Small as it is, the arch would have led to a demolished chancel, and the stonework of the arch is unmistakably Saxon. People have worshipped here for over a thousand years.

The evening light is often beautiful on this west-facing slope. When I first came here is was dusk, and I felt I needed a candle to see the medieval roof timbers and Jacobean furniture. Today there was more light, but it was fading as the sun began to drop behind the next hill. The farm dogs were quiet. The only thing moving was some smoke from a nearby chimney. Restored by the silence I crept back to the car, and drove off, making as little noise as I could.

11 comments:

Thud said...

The atmosphere of some places seemingly frozen in time can make one feel an intruder..perhaps this is such a place.

Vinogirl said...

St. Faith's fate was quite grissly...I am glad she has a pretty church in the Cotswolds dedicated to her.

Peter Ashley said...

Beautiful post, thankyou.

CarolineLD said...

A lovely image - the light really is beautiful at this time of year.

Ron Combo said...

Excellent post, thank you.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'm pleased this tiny, unknown place has struck a chord.

cbn said...

Normally your blog makes me happy and I came here tonight to do some forgetting - but the Fates just love irony. This entry makes me very sad. 6 months ago I walked to Cromwell's Seat with my (recently now ex) girlfriend. We sat in this church on the way back. It was at the end of a perfect day.

Neil said...

A beautiful prose poem - with picture. Thanks.

The Mobile Salesperson said...

A creepy feeling when I see that old church. Blame the exorcist

lila said...

Lovely post, enjoyed reading it. Thankyou.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Lila: Thank you. I'm glad people are still finding these old posts.