"I saw that I was going to get very wet; my soles were letting water already....I turned the corner of a high hedge and was in an open pasture. And there was the church.

It was an off the peg job: evidently there had been no medieval wool boom in these parts.. This has been a starveling country, every stone an extortion....The tower was squat. Don't get the wrong impression; all in all, it was pleasant enough looking and, when I came closer, I saw that the masonry had been fettled up very nicely - limestone ashlar not rubble....

The rain gutters and down-pipes -- I couldn't help myself: I had to see if they were coping. So I threshed around the building. Not a gusher anywhere, not a trace of wash on the walls!"

Rev. Keach:... And that was how I first saw him, his precise business-like letters made flesh, standing the the doorway below me; seeing by wet footprints that I had come. Like a tracker dog he looked along their trail to the foot of the ladder and then up it.


"Good evening, Mr. Birkin, " he said, and I climbed down. He was four or five years older than me, maybe thirty, a tall but not a strong looking man, neatly turned out, pale-eyed, a cold cooped-up look about him and, long after he must have become used to my face twitch, he still talked to someone behind my left shoulder.

Than I climbed down the scaffold ladder and up the belfry ladder, but before I lit my oil lamp, I crossed to the window and looked across the darkness to the village's scattered lightsglittering through the rain....

So, that first morning, I rolled up my blanket, and, avoiding the bell-rope, walked across to the south window and pulled away my coat hitched across to keep out the rain. It was a simple two-light window, unglazed of course, with a simple mullion strong enough to take my weight. The rain had ceased and dew glittered on the graveyard grass, gossamer drifted down air-currents, a pair of blackbirds picked around after insects, a thrush was singing where I could see him in one of the ash trees. And beyond lay the pasture I had crossed on my way from the station (with a bell-tent pitched near a stream) then more fields rising towards a dark rim of hills. And, as it lightened, a vast and magnificent landscape unfolded. I turned away; it was immensely satisfying.




His vicarage turned out to be in a small wood. Of course it hadn't been built in one: the saplings planted by some earlier incumbant as garden features had become immense spreading trees, and their undergrowth had blotted out any lawns or flower beds that may once have been there. In fact, the drive was now a tunnel and the scuffle of my boots sent wood-pigeons threshing through branches and boughs into the sky...Why the place was a letter-day Eden!




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Pictures thanks to Sharon, Meluchie, Vicki and the FOF Roles Project

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