Thursday, 16 February 2017


This morning we motored over to Littleport in Cambridgeshire, where we picked up   daughter number three , Kerry. and drove on to  our native village, Welney. We went to the  one remaining hostelry, the Lamb and Flag, where we had a basic, but very pleasant, lunch,  caught up on all the family news, and swapped Christmas presents. This was because Kerry was poorly over the Christmas season and had to cry off the boxing Day family do. She is now much better, I'm relieved to say,  and is more or  less back in mid-season form, so that  we all three enjoyed a drawn out lunch and a VERY drawn out natter. After lunch we had a short walk to the Welney Churchyard, where we visited  the family graves (which Kerry had been keeping in good order, bless 'er).  

We then ran Kerry back to Littleport nicely in time to meet her son out of school, then drove home via Isleham. This  is a small village set in the fen - the name tells  it all - Isle Ham. It still has  the feeling  of an Island set in the  fens. It's a pleasant little village with two churches, well within a couple  of  hundred yards of each other. One of them (the lower photograph) is the Priory Church of Saint Mary of Antioch, which is  a small plain (but apsoidal) building, dating from around the year 1100.  By the 16th century it  had been made into a tithe barn, as it remained  until around the year 1810.

A short distance along  the same road stands  Saint Andrew's Church (upper picture). Most of the present church dates from  the 1300s, but there are a good many traces of  several earlier buildings.  The Church has a lych gate that dates from the late 1400s and is  probably the earliest standing lych gate in East Anglia. 
The inside of  the church is fascinating. There is some  early glass and rather nice wall  painting in the porch, in the church is a fine angel  roof, many lovely bench ends,  memorial brasses, a fine brass Flemish lectern  dating  from the late 1400s, and the 'Peyton Tombs' dating from 1518 and 1550. I  spent about twenty minutes taking photographs,  and wished that I could spend a day there. Nothing to stop me going  back there, of course, and I've got lots of photos for future blog use.

The problem between the two churches was that Saint Mary's of Antioch was endowed, soon after the conquest, by Alan, Count of  Brittany; whilst Saint Andrew's Church has been there since Saxon days (over a thousand years now).  In other words one of them was seen as French and the other as  English. We all know how difficult the French have always been for civilised people like us to  get on with, and I  think  that was the basis of the problems between the two churches in Isleham (although I may be over simplifying things a touch). Anyway -  there they both still are, glaring at  each other in a small village  out in the middle of the fens, and not on the  way to anywhere very much. They really are well  worth a visit. I've not  been to Isleham for  about thirty years (can't  think why not, and anyway that's a mistake that   I intend righting quite soon - if  spared).

1 comment:

Crowbard said...

Speaking of objects ecclesiastical, has the Dean died and gone to Hell yet? Or being so enamoured of the flesh and substance of the church does he not believe in such spiritual aspects of Christianity?