Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Lost village, lost church
Writing in the Observer in March 1967, Ian Nairn listed thirteen English churches that he recommended to readers as worth a visit over the coming Easter Holiday. This baker's dozen were, he said, untouched by restorers and included such wonders as the parish church at Whitby, Yorkshire, and that at Inglesham, Wiltshire, both among my personal favourites. One of the smallest and least known was the church of St George, Goltho, lost among fields and trees not far from Wragby in Lincolnshire, a church that belonged to a 'deserted' medieval village.
If you were after atmosphere, Goltho was the place: a brick church with a whitewashed interior, simple pews, a two-decker pulpit. It was a place of quiet and tranquility that transcended its basic, if interesting, architecture of perhaps around 1530. It was right, somehow, that the derivation of the village name is from Saxon words meaning 'the place where the marigolds grow', even if oilseed rape is the more likely source of local colour these days.
I'm sad to be writing about this building in the past tense. A few days ago the building caught fire. There is not much left now except the walls – roof and fittings have gone, the plaster has come off the interior walls. It's a sorry mess, due, it's thought, to a lightning strike. Nature, that provided the building with its perfect setting, can also take its toll.
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Photograph © Copyright J.Hannan-Briggs and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence