Saturday, January 16, 2021

Funding My Epiphany

All Saints East Horndon source: All Saints homepage

Above the Essex village

where my childhood petered out...

a russet Tudor church stands on a hill.

Across a busy highway

up a lane, through a barred gate

past brambled headstones

my Clarks-shod feet found it one afternoon.


I entered through its low doorway

to hazy mote-filled air revealing

spattered pews, uneven masonry, ancient niches

and dusty alabaster monuments.


A narrow brick stairway led to a tower

housing four bare bell yokes,

above the droppings and bodies of birds


I lingered in the church until daylight began to fade 

sensing something solemn in this deconsecrated shell

- a counterpoint to the bland bungalows and

utilitarian buildings

of our post-war constructed village


In those next few weeks a quest consumed me -

Kodak box camera images, wax rubbings

dutiful copies of

names, dates and heraldry

legends, culled from pamphlets,

of slain dragons and Anne Boleyn’s secreted heart…

the first frisson of discovery


Twenty years on

visiting from a new land

I expected the decay to be complete

yet found my church rehabilitated,

disturbingly clean,

used for meetings and musical performances.

Safe, if no longer mysterious


Then on New Year’s eve 2020,

to cap the chaos of Trump and Brexit and COVID and planetary conflagration,

some people held a rave in All Saints

installing port-a-loos amongst the graves

splintering the Norman doorway

shattering a window

chipping stone and plaster work

using Lady Tyrrell’s tomb as a bar and

strewing  the floor with their empties.


Friends of the church have launched an appeal

- my philanthropy exceeds my budget

(thirty five pounds sterling

is over  sixty Aus dollars!) 

but I spare what I can 

to preserve the 500 year old fabric

of the church and of my epiphany.


Jan Pittard © 2021


Page from my 1967 notebook with notes and drawings produced at All Saints

The church interior as it was left by the revellers source: Essex Live website


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So sad that people have no respect for a beautiful building and memories.