Well, it being Sunday yesterday and there being a church just a headstone’s throw from the house (oddly, although the house is called the Little Rectory it is not associated with that church) I went there. My sister often leads services there and seems to have informed the entire congregation that I am visiting, so there was quite a reception committee when I arrived – or at least a steady flow of people saying ‘hello, you must be Mary’s sister. Hello, you must be Mary’s sister’ and offering to ferry me to Hereford or Abergavenny, take me to the pub or drop in for tea. Which was nice.
The church itself is worth mentioning: dating from the 11th century it has a huge nave where locals would leave their horses, having ridden in from across the hills, and an enclosed section with pews, sanctuary etc. It’s an odd mixture of formality and informality: the clergy (who almost outnumber the congregation) and the choir are robed, mostly in the usual cassock and surplice but one member has opted for a white monk-style robe and is accompanied by a small dog (though not in the musical sense). The liturgy is semi-formal with hymns posted on a hymn-board instead of a more modern computer display, but the manner of celebrants is friendly and down-to-earth. There’s an organ and an organist (not often you get both in the same place, in my experience) although the organ broke down half-way through so the choir were forced to abandon their stalls and gather round the piano.
Anyway over a mug of tea I met those of the laity who hadn’t yet introduced themselves and found a fellow C P Snow fan. We talked about Leicester and Richard III and happily dissed the attempt by York to claim him as well as lamenting the lack of recognition for Snow in his native town.
And back to the range, dogs and house.
Here’s the church: