Saturday, 17 May 2008

Wandering in the Ribble Valley.

The village of Downham, on the way to Citheroe.

Downham again.

Pendle Hill, centre of witch and ghost and funny activity for hundreds of years.

All Hallows Churchyard.

All Hallows Church, Mitton. See below.

A jolly wayside shrine.

A man with very small feet.

A stem powered bus.

Part of the Chantry Chapel.

Rood and Quire.

The sedilia, used as a display cabinet, pretty much summed up the feel of the Church, alas.

Altar with hangings.

The Nave.

The view from the balcony.

Looking back from the rood. Note the modern steps around the font.

The architect of the original building, weeping.

A hatchment, I like hatchments and shall write about them more at some other time.

The stunning chantry chapel.

The modern reordering manages to provide no wheelchair access, so why do it in the first place?

The ceiling from the balcony.

Etched glass in front of the childrens area, at the back of the top room, behind a screen.

This I like.

The children would be unable to see, or hear, anything. So why attend Church? Is it a social centre or a house of God?

It has been hot and dry all week and this Sunday is the May Devotions so, naturally, the rain clouds have begun gathering in readiness for the traditional downpour before the procession. Today is the Clitheroe Festival so off I went to said market town nestling in the Ribble Valley and for lunch in the . As my little party of intrepid Hildaites went in, we were greeted not by the usual benevolent face of the ever smiling manager and his wife grinning from the kitchen, but by the tidy bar full of beer barrels and the restaurant full of people tuning up folk instruments. A table at the back was immediately offered along with a choice of Black Pudding or cauliflower soup. I went for black pud, then a choice between lancashire hotpot or meat and potato pie, both with pickled cabbage was offered. Mid way through these, Mrs. Cook came from the kitchen shyly proffering a sausage which had been made to her recipe, It was excellent, as was the home made cheesecake and the pint of beer. A bill that would not buy a main course in other restaurants was sent and signed and we waddled out into the street. There was a steam powered (coal fired) bus pootling around the square and a man on stilts as well as a chap selling his home made crisps in the market, so that seemed fine!

A walk to Pendle Hill later was followed by a visit to All Hallows Church, Mitton. Mitton is famous for it's food, with the Aspinall Arms, run by the Copper Dragon Brewery, the which is excellent, but not as good as it was and Mitton Hall, which is too expensive for your poor scribe, with his candle stubs burning by the magic lantern in which I am able to communicate this blog to you. All Hallows is an ancient Church in the centre of the village and I have never been in before, so was excited to see it open.

Now, there is a beautiful chantry chapel, a fine sedilia, a well appointed sanctuary and good pews and a great ceiling. The rear is re ordered well, with a clever carpet which looks, at first encounter, like tiles, good etched glass and fine hardwood fittings. But you know what? I did not like it one bit. The new reordering felt like a Hotel lobby, there was no smell in the body of the Church, no lingering wild garlic which the outside smelt of, no candle wax, no musty incense and, more tellingly, no hymn books, no liturgy of any kind, no 'hello, we are the local Christian community!' board, no idea what sort of worship they employed and no mention, anywhere, of God or the Bible. As I said, it felt like a hotel with a museum attached. Never mind, what's it got to do with me! It is the May Devotions tomorrow and I shall be myself again directly.