I’ve been a bit lax with my blogging recently, there has been a lot going on … busy, busy, busy at work and we are being evicted again! (nice landlord got made redundant and had to sell our house, which I was hoping would take him a long time but sadly didn’t).
However nice letting agent appears to have found us something even better in the same village and at the same price – we are going to meet the landlord and landlady this morning so keep your fingers crossed.
But there is another reason too … I have been sulking, my camera is sick and I’m hoping it’s not terminal.
One weekend a little while ago, on a weekend I wasn’t seeing Man, I decided to trundle out and tick off some more churches for my Fifty Before Fifty challenge.
I thought I’d head south and east a bit to West Sussex. I planned out my route, it wasn’t a particularly nice day weather wise but what does that matter? And I was even organised enough to pack my tripod.
I drove for about an hour and a half, arrived at the lovely hamlet of North Stoke (flint cottage, farmhouse, church) and grabbed the camera. No click, the battery was dead.
I swapped the battery for the spare. No click, that battery was dead too. I was very cross with myself.
But I was in West Sussex, it had taken me a while to get there and I didn’t want to waste the day, so I resorted to taking photos with my iPhone. Not ideal, but not completely disastrous.
Later, when I got home, I tried to charge the batteries. Both were fully charged. I replaced the back up battery, still nothing. Then I remembered the last time I had used the camera it had been in persistent drizzle and, while my old Nikon was completely robust about a bit of damp, the Canon clearly is not.
I researched on the internet, took out both batteries, removed the lens and the sd card, covered it in a cloth and left it by a radiator … for weeks it sat by the radiator with me testing it occasionally. We have now got to the stage where I can fire it up, reset the date and take one or two pictures before it dies on me again. And that’s after about six weeks of drying out.
So last week I finally conceded and took it to hospital. It’s been sent off for repairs and I am still waiting for the quote (which indicates to me that it could be quite pricey :( ). But I need my camera back. I am not complete without it.
So, back to the church, sadly with photos that aren’t going to do it justice.
The dedication for the North Stoke Church have been lost in the mists of time, so it’s just known as North Stoke Church. Both it, and the village, are mentioned in the Doomsday Book and it is one of a few churches in very close proximity to each other on the curve of the river Arun.
The name Stoke (Stoch in the Doomsday Book) comes from the word stoc, which just means place, or sometimes a religious place.
This cruciform church is looks pretty much the same as it did in the 14th century and there is a lesson in the development of 13th century stained glass windows inside its walls.
The walls are covered in flints and stones from the surrounding land. There is a blocked priests’ doorway in the chancel wall that dates from around 1240. People were short in those days.
The inside is bright and clean, walls covered in a cream limewash. But there are traces of wall paintings still be be seen. I would have loved to have seen these churches in all their original glory.
There is a piscina and also a set of three graduated sedilia, going down the steps. Apparently these were used for the Celebrant, Deacon and Sub Deacon to sit in during medieval High Mass. Again I make the point, these were very small people. Why have humans got taller over the years, I really must find out.
There is another recess in the south transept. It sits underneath arches and has a carved sheep’s head above it, this was – and is – farming country after all. Experts believe this could have been where the Lord of the Manor sat, who knows.
The glass in this window has been dated at between 1290 and 1310, although not all of it is believed to be in its original position. It is thought to depict part of a scene of Our Lady’s Coronation and some think the guy on the right is King David from another scene. Whatever it depicts its and 800 year old work of stained glass art in situ in a tiny parish church.
This font has been used to baptise the children of North Stoke for more than 750 years. I wonder what the community was like 750 years ago. I wonder who the villagers this church was built to serve were and what their community was like.
According to the Churches Conservation Trust information booklet about North Stoke Church there were just 51 people living in the village in 1961 and there are fewer now. The church was declared redundant in 1992. Not a big enough population to warrant a church.
Now, the population has grown by an enormous percentage and yet these little places are now deserted. I suppose its a combination of more people moving from the countryside to the town, less people going to church and people being able to travel more quickly and easily from place to place.
But I really would love to know more about what these little communities were like.