5th February 2018

The Suffolk Pilgrim’s Progress: 3


I walked to Nowton Church from Bury St Edmunds. It was a gloomy February afternoon: cold, damp and grey. I collected the key from Mrs Flynn, the warden living in the Almshouses. She explained the windows contained panels purchased by Orbell Ray Oakes around 1820 from a monastery in Brussels.

The church is reached from the west side by walking across three fields. It is very prettily situated towards the top of a hill. Inside was cold and dark, but the quality of the windows was remarkable: the old panels had been set with very brightly coloured Victorian glass, which glowed in the wintry light. The hybrid of the two styles created a rich tapestry effect, like a quilt. The images danced in their setting, the curves of the panels extended in rich red and purple.


Outside again, and the light was fading. I walked across the fields to return the key, and noticed more snowdrops by a bramble hedge. In the wood below the starlings were gathering. As I walked down the lane a small group of them were startled and with an enormous noise they took off, followed by thousands more. A murmuration swooped up and over the ploughed field beside us, and round, then over the horizon. .

That night I dreamt of of brambles, snowdrops and birds in branches, and knew these things were still alive in mid-winter


Information about Nowton church may be found here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1194745



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