Saturday, June 20, 2009

Parish Pilgrimage

We began as usual with Morning Prayer in Tredegarville School Hall - three dozen of us. It gave everyone a chance to see the newly completed mosaic of Noah's Ark on the wall of the hall, serving as a permanent backdrop for the altar taken from St James'. It's an excellent choice for a Church School with people of different faiths as part of the learning community, seeing as the story is one that all People of the Book hold in common.

By the time the bus set off there were 41 of us on board for Croft Castle in Herefordshire. It's a National trust property for over fifty years, with a history of occupation by the Croft family going back nearly a thousand years. This stately home, on the site of a mediaeval castle, with a chapel of ease standing right next to it, dedicated to St Michael, feels lived in - present family members have their own quarters hidden away on the top floor, and one of them takes a special interest in managing the superb walled garden with its own vineyard. There was so much to absorb that one visit, many agreed, would not be enough to benefit fully. After lunch, a tour of house and church, an historical talk and a stroll around the gardens nearest the house, it was time to move on, missing out many pathways laid out through the lush grassland with its 350 mature and ancient trees.

Next stop Leominster, a fine ancient market town with some narrow streets, lots of small shops and many half timbered houses. Christian community began here with a monastery in 663AD. The nave of the twelfth century Benedictine Priory is one of three naves this church possesses today. Additional grander ones were added in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The first one is of the same era as the first St John's chapel of ease to Cardiff Castle, so when you look at it, you get an impression of what it looked like before Owain Glyndwr's soldiers burned it down. A splendid tea was laid out for us here, to be shared after first singing Evensong, a task undertaken with great enthusiasm by all four dozen of us, counting in those who'd arrived by car.

As usual, I took photographs, including a couple of Rob and Alison with Katie. It's Katie's fifth Parish pilgrimage since she was born. She figures in pictures I've taken of all of them. We were back home comfortably by eight, heads full of green images of passing countryside, and pleasurable memories of good companionship on the way. You'll find the photos here including one of the Tredegarville mosaic.

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