DAYS OUT/CHURCHES: St Mary’s, Southery (old & new?)

Lovely view, atop a wee brudgey.

I was doing my delivery rounds today. And what a fine day it turned into! And, as ever, various things caught my eye.

Fenland road names can be such fun.

My final delivery of the afternoon was in the village of Southery, near Downham Market. My work done, I went and found the village church. Yet another bloomin’ unimaginative St. Mary’s.

The church was shut. But, not one to be deterred, I rang the churchwardens, and a guy came out with a key and unlocked it for me. Fab!

This 19th Century church isn’t as interesting to me, overall, as the kinds of church that are built on and integrate much older buildings.

Perhaps the chief attraction here is the stained glass? And, amongst the folk depicted in the windows, an unusual sight, my namesake, St Sebastian!

Whereas some Fenland churches – such as St Wendreda’s, where we live (March) – have fabulous wooden angels in their roofs, here we find a pair carved into the supports of an arch.

Also of interest are the 12 ‘stations of the cross’ roundels. And numerous written ‘inscriptions’ (inc. the one in the porch that lists the folk who worked on it).

I also found out whilst here, that there was another older church, at a site not too far away. But that it had fallen into disuse and ruin, and is now fenced off. This picqued my interest!

I wandered around the entire old church site. There’s an extensive graveyard here. But access to the old ruins is prevented by a metal fence. Even the wrought iron gate admitting one to the site/graveyard has been made inaccessible.

Careful study of these pics – it’s much easier to see when you’re there – reveals that the structure of what remains standing is visible, in veiled outline. Albeit entirely clad in greenery now.

But, it turns out that hidden under all this rampant growth is a mostly brickwork disappointment. I’ll come back to this in a bit more detail later.

Sunglasses required.

When I got home I took Teresa to the chemist. We passed this amazingly vivid (livid!?) bush, en route.


That kind of shocking pink wouldn’t have appealed to me in years past. But I love it now. Nature’s fecundity, albeit here under human guidance, is a wonderful thing.

Tesco used book buy, £1.

I bought the above at Tesco. From their little second hand book library. I initially thought it was a non-fiction history book. But I now realise it is in fact historical fiction.

Never mind! It’s Napoleonic, and set in 1812, against the backdrop of Napoleon’s Russian debacle. One of my particular favourite eras of history. So I shall read away, and hope it lives up to the book jacket hype.

I did say, up above at some point, that I’d say more about the slight disappointment at finding the ruins of the older church completely covered and sealed off by fences.

One would like to think that under it all lies a medieval gothic wonder, or something even older. But, as the two pics above (which I found here) attest, much of this ‘older’ church is a much later red-brick repair.

Anyway, as ever, a trip to a church – or churches? – proves to be deeply interesting, and richly rewarding. Even when neither church is top drawer.

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