I saw this cartoon. It shows a vicar sitting at the organ and he’s looking over his shoulder at the congregation and saying
“Due to our failure to secure a holiday-relief organist, the next hymn will also be sung to the tune, Chopsticks.”
Well we’ve had a holiday. Nothing too exotic, we’re a bit out of practice at this holiday malarkey and didn’t want to strain anything. Basically we wanted to attend a service in Canterbury Cathedral, and we decided that rather than flogging down M6-M1-M25-A2 we’d do something more civilised. So we went via Leeds (and a chance to have lunch and spend time with daughter) to Woody’s Top near Ruckland in Lincolnshire. To find Ruckland, go to the back of beyond, turn left and keep going for another ten miles.
Then we had a day in Lincoln, before travelling south, having lunch with old friends before crossing the Thames and spending a couple of days ‘doing’ Canterbury.
Another thing we did get to do is have a good look around Lincoln Cathedral, (as well as the second hand bookshops on Steep Hill) as well as have a good look around Canterbury Cathedral.
They’re fabulous buildings, really amazing. Well worth the look. But one thing that struck me was I was walking around them was the genius of Christopher Wren. He was surrounded by magnificence like that but was great enough to break out from it and create St Paul’s Cathedral.
If you really want to see St Paul’s Cathedral at its best, don’t go when it’s busy. Make the effort, and turn up for the 7:30am morning service. They open the doors not long after 7am and when you go in it’s almost totally silent, and there are not many lights on. You get a chance to see the building in its native state. Just to sit there in the quiet, amongst the great stone columns branching out into shadowed arches, like so many great dreaming trees, listening to the words of morning prayer can leave you hanging outside time.
The clean lines, the plain stone catching the morning light, are stunning. At that time the decoration is merely hinted at in the gloom, or suddenly highlighted as the sunlight strikes an upper window.
Yet on the Tuesday evening of our holiday the weather was pleasant and we went for a walk. This took is down to Ruckland Church, then along a footpath from which we saw partridge, muntjac deer and rabbits, getting back to Woody’s Top as the sun set.
St Olave’s church, Ruckland can hold about thirty, provided they’re all friends, so it’s not architecturally impressive. But they’d had a flower festival the previous weekend, and the flowers were still there. Nothing fussy, but beautiful, as you can see from a photo I borrowed from the web.
And it was in this church, amongst the flowers, that I saw the cartoon.