"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Locked, Barred and Bolted!

Inspired by the great photos and interesting churches featured from time to time on The Quacks of Life blog - see link on the right under My Blog List, I decided recently I would start visting some local old churches. Apart from the history and interest of such places I love the quiet and peaceful atmosphere.

Last week I had an appointment in Coleshill, a small Warwickshire market town, and I planned to visit St Peter's and St Paul's church there afterwards. The church has a 52 metre steeple dating from the 13th century and contains a 12th century font, medieval table tombs and some beautiful stained glass windows. Unfortunately, I arrived at the church at 1.10 p.m. only to discover it was only open to visitors on Wednesday and Saturday between 11.00 and 1.00 p.m. and I had missed out by 10 minutes!

Undeterred, I decided this week to visit the parish church of St Peter at Bickenhill which dates from 1140 (although very little of the original church remains - the chancel was rebuilt around 1300 and further alterations have occurred over the centuries). Sadly, the pretty village of Bickenhill and possibly the church are threatened by the proposed runway extension at nearby Birmingham International Airport.

On arrival this is the view which met me as I approached the rear entrance to the church.

Here are some photos of the much prettier front entrance to the church with its lovely timber porch - sadly also locked!

On walking round the exterior of the church I wondered why this doorway had been blocked.

And here's a photo of the churchyard yew tree.

Finally, a poor photo of the church.

As I returned to my car to my delight the church warden arrived on the scene. Would I at long last be able to get inside the church and take some photos? He explained that yes, he would have been quite happy to let me in had he had his keys with him!

Below is a photo of the spire of St Alphege's Church, Solihull taken from the car park at the rear of my son's office. This is one of the next churches on my list and as it is listed in Simon Jenkins' book "England's Thousand Best Churches", I thought there would be more chance of it being open. However, a drive past revealed that it too was locked, barred and bolted!!! It was 6.30 p.m. in the evening, however, so I live in hope that it may be open during the day!


Pete said...

the yew looks good. there is a lovely one at Much Marcle in Herefordshire

you do have my sympathies over locked churches the frustration of a locked door is one I know!

for st alphege try http://www.solihullparish.org.uk/

Ragged Robin said...

Thanks for the St Alphege link Pete. I will check that out before my visit although I have driven past twice this week in the daytime and it looks open!!!

Would love to fit in the Much Marcle yew when I go to Hereford in a few weeks but son has already added Puzzlewood and Clearwood caves to the Mappa Mundi. Must admit I love ancient trees - have Thomas Pakenham's"Meetings with Remarkable Trees" in one of the massive piles of books to read and have you visited the Ancient Tree Hunt on the Woodland Trust site? Oh to have more free time!