Now as everyone probably knows by now, as part of my Fifty before Fifty challenge I am trying to visit all of the 340+ churches looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust. I did a quick tally on Friday and I was up to 32. Obviously, I needed to step it up a pace because I’ve only got 2.5 years to go.
So I drew up an ambitious list of eight churches on a circuitous route through Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire to attempt on Saturday. First, however, I had to watch the episode of Time Team that I had missed about Oakham Castle that we visited last week. So, in fact, we did not end up leaving home until late morning.
We had driven less than half a mile when we got stuck behind a steam rally (they don’t move at quite the speed I like too!).
We checked off the first four churches with ease. All were reasonably easy to find and each was lovely (more about them in different posts).
We found a couple of deserted medieval village – something else that has sparked my interest – and spent the afternoon in beautiful countryside.
But at church number five we ran into difficulties. Because I decided that the church the sat nav had delivered us to couldn’t possibly be the correct one because it still looked in use, we went off on a wild goose chase down a dirt track, almost kidnapped an old lady and got delayed for about an hour while we tried to work out what to do (see yesterday’s post). Only to then find that the church I had dismissed was in fact the correct church.
Anyway, back on track, with five churches down and three still to go, we really didn’t expect those three still to be open. But, as they were vaguely on the way home, we decided to give it a shot figuring that as soon as we found one that was closed, we’d head straight home.
Well the first two of the three were open so, even though it was well past 6pm, we decided to try the third as well.
But look what we found when we arrived at the sat nav location.
The farmer whose land appeared to surround this church was using it as a dumping site for his wood and old machinery. The farm gate was locked so we couldn’t get in through there, so we parked at the edge of a lane and hotfooted it across a field with me muttering about how awful it was just to dump stuff around the little church.
However it turns out we had plugged a slightly incorrect postcode into the sat nav and, by pure coincidence, ended up at a site of an abandoned church, just not a Churches Conservation Trust one. This one was on private land, privately owned and we were trespassing. Now what are the odds of that happening? Luckily we didn’t get spotted or chased off by an angry farmer with a shotgun.
So by the time we arrived at the correct location, it was gone 7pm and St Wilfrid’s at Lower Marnham was, as expected, closed. But there are still two other churches I’ve yet to see in that area of Nottinghamshire, one is only open Monday to Friday and the other open May to September, so we’ll return to St Wilfrid’s another time.
The CCT is introducing an open churches policy and hopes to have all its churches open every day by the end of next year. I think that is a fabulous idea.