Heading out at the crack of dawn to Whitby on Sunday, it obviously would have been an opportunity wasted had we not taken in some more Churches Conservation Trust churches to tick off some more of my Fifty before Fifty challenge.
We selected three and first on the list was St Peter’s at Wintringham, North Yorkshire. Easy to find, very peaceful and with pheasants hopping around on the gravestones – until, that is, you got your camera out and then they ran and hid.
“I pray you Gentlemen beware
And when you ring ye Bells take care
For he that Rings and breaks a Stay
Must pay Sixpence without delay
And if you Ring in Spurs or Matt
You must likewise pay Sixpence for that”
– Michael Gill Clarke, 1723
I like a man with a sense of humour.
This one wasn’t open. We could have collected the key from the farm round the corner, but we didn’t want to disturb people on a Sunday morning.
It also has a very striking lamppost.
But we were heading to the Goth weekend in Whitby (for photographic purposes) and had one more church to take in.
This is the Old Church of St Stephen at Fylingdales, just outside Whitby.
It is absolutely amazing and easily my favourite church to date.
It sits on a hillside overlooking Robin Hood’s bay and it’s graveyard is packed with weather-worn graves of locals, of strangers who died at sea. It’s an incredible little place.
Inside there are painted box pews and a three-decker pulpit. There is a gallery packed with pews on two sides of the church and, going inside, you could just imagine hundreds of villagers from these little fishing villages packed into the pews on a Sunday listening to the sermon being preached from on high.
It is so atmospheric I could almost see them sitting there.
It has a collection of rare maidens garlands.
There is a list nearby of all the unmarried women who are buried in the graveyard, ranging in ages from teenagers to pensioners.
Visiting here is like stepping back into a Victorian novel. The church also has a couple of interesting little history books and a facsimile of the census for the area from 1901.
Very definitely my favourite Churches Conservation Trust church so far. And I may well have found the location for that novel I keep threatening to write. It was beautiful.