Sunday, October 29, 2006

Blog Written in a Country Churchyard

With the clocks going back, Winter is truly upon us and all is woe and misery until the Spring. So naturally nature has gone "ya boo, that's what you think" and it's a beautiful sunny day. Putting aside the habit of a lifetime, I decided to go for a walk - just a couple of miles up to the local church and back, but that's more than enough for yours truly. Anyway, it dawned on me I've blogged the delights of views up country while on my travels but not the local scenery, so I donned my long coat, slipped my camera in my pocket, seized up a walking stick (obligatory wooden content) and set off. Must have looked a little incongruous with the iPod on too, but never mind...

I'll spare you the muddy lane, deep in leaf mould at the sides i.e. where you have to retreat whenever a car comes along. There was considerable evidence that squirrels had this way been - hazelnut and acorn husks everywhere. Gave a few brambles a thwack in the hopes of making the way a little easier for the next traveller, but they're tough old things and really needed a sword stick not a walking stick to make much impression. "Going" is much the worst, 'cos most of it's uphill, so I was much relieved to reach my goal and get a fine eyeballfull up the valley to Penryn and beyond to the blue ridge foothills of the china clay waste up by St Austell. These days the china clay folks get enviromental awards for flattening off the waste piles and making them green to "blend in" with the surrounding countryside (which they don't). But not that long ago they used to be left white and looked like snow-capped mountains, which was much more fun IMO. Heigh ho.

The church itself has an extremely picturesque pathway from the road, down paste high stone walls liberally coated with moss, ferns and worts of some sort, and an exceedlingly solid granite coffin rest and benches at the bottom. Of course that was for the benefit of the poor fellows who used to have to carry the coffin all the way, the church being well outside any of the villages it serves. No-one wants huffing and puffing pallbearers in church. I figured they wouldn't want a huffing and puffing me in the churchyard either, so I took advantage for a while too. That stone chills you to the bone though, so I soon moved on.

The world being as it is isolated country churches are kept locked, so I couldn't go in and look for decorative woodwork, but no matter 'cos there's a wonderful piece of carving in a granite doorframe. The green and orange that looks so extrordinary is actually moulds and lichen I believe - that doorway's in a particularly damp, North-facing spot.

Granite's the building material of choice for the whole church and most of the gravestones, as you might expect given that we're plumb in the middle of a load of granite quarries. Luckily that means the churchyard is spared weeping angels and other difficult-to-carve monuments, but soild oblongs and sturdy crosses abound. Having said which, this slate example caught my eye. Never come across a monumental mason putting a maker's mark on a headstone before. Mind you, Mr Vincent did a lovely job, so why not?

By this time I'd circled round to the other side of the church and was thinking of heading back. But I'd yet to get a halfway decent shot of the church itself. Tsk. Then I looked up from all the Kessels and Dunstans and Spargos and saw I had an Artistic Photo Opportunity. So, embracing the lens flare, I went for the silhouette and took a technically atrocious pic of a typical Cornish church.


  1. Very nice blog today. Lovely countryside.

    Still, look forward to the intriguing Monday blog!

    Take care, Mike

  2. ALF,

    A story in the key of Fall. Evocative words and photos--thank you. The approach walkway to the church is stunning. Was this always a little country place? The beautiful granite sculpting at the church and on the gravestone makes me wonder if this were not some thriving town at one time.



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