Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Bluebells and churches

Bluebells and churches seem to go together somehow, don't they? If anyone knows what the triangular piece above the church door in the picture below is called, do let me know. It is part of the old Norman church, still in use today, within the grounds of Seaton Delaval Hall.

(I've just added a piece about it to the new blog Historical Belles and Beaus - do pop over and take a look. here )

I like old churches, but dh dislikes going into them, or into churchyards, so I find myself sneaking into them when he is not around. I find them fascinating, gentle, peaceful places.

Locally we have the Saxon church at Escomb, the Normal Cathedral at Durham - a gorgeous contrast to the little Normal church at Seaton Delaval, and a pair of medieval churches at Bywell. There are many others dotted around Durham and Northumberland, but I can't mention them all!

I suppose I ought to mention the Abbey at Hexham. Its origins are Saxon, founded by St Wilfrid, no less. And there is a Saxon crypt with several Roman stones snitched from the Roman wall or Corstopitum, which isn't so very far away.
But much of the body of the church is not so very old. The Victorians did one of their refurbishment jobs on it. No doubt it needed it, and a fine job they did. But sadly, it no longer seems old to me.

I remember crawling around it with Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett in my hand, because one of the most dramatic scenes takes place within the Abbey. The transept in which Tom Erskine hides, watching a bowman take aim and fire at the hero, Lymond, still exists.

The arrow flies true, and Lymond...
'flung up his head, turned half around with the force of the explosion. The bow fell. For one second - two- he held fast to the broken coping, defying the heralds of agony and an easy darkness... The riven flesh and burst vessels made their protest, the freed blood springing liberal and scarlet through the fragments of Lymond's shirt. Erskine saw the long hands loosen, the sudden, uncontrolled sway; but was not prepared for the drowned, revealing blue gaze meeting his like a blow.
"And died stinkingly martyred," said Lynmond, with painful derision; and losing hold bit by bit, slipped into Erskine's gentle grasp.'

Still gets me, after all this time.

1 comment:

Carolin said...

Yep, that scene is spell-binding - Dunnett could flat-out write :-)