Friday, 8 August 2014

St Mary's Church, East Ruston

Earlier today I had the good fortune to spend solitary time at St Mary's Church, East Ruston, near the North Norfolk coast. Just me, my camera, and the sunshine beating down on my back. I have yet to find a photograph that takes my breath away quite like the sight of the actual church - still I took the obligatory scene setting shot of the whole church. This is what I affectionately call my 'Simon Knott shot'.  

To the faint sound of small flies buzzing busily I crossed the potentially treacherous road and walked up to the parched looking wooden gate. The gate timber looked like the most arid substance on earth, despite the downpour we had experienced the day before. It made me thirst for tea just to look at it, so I hurried through into the churchyard, with vague thoughts of hot beverages and cake whirling around my all-too distractible mind.  

Into the church, through the small door in the chancel, and, turning to my left, I looked towards the font at the nave's end, with the sparse, but lovely, framework of a - no doubt! - once resplendent rood screen framing the view beautifully. Pausing, I breathed in that lovely familiar beetly, damp smell of an old church, and experienced a Betjeman-esque reverie as I imagined the scurrying spiders lurking in the corners, wondering when this ridiculous giant beast would leave them to get on with their web-working in peace. 

My 'eye' (I currently have two!) was immediately drawn to the pair of carved wooden lions standing sentinel-like either side of the interior rood doorway arch. Admiringly, I walked around them. Haughty little beasts they are! Obedient to an absent master and ready to spring to action at any moment, their stillness seems miraculous. I like these little critters. 

Shifting my focus for a minute, my gaze fell upon the lectern and the leaning arches of the aisle, brightly lit with splashes of sunshine dazzling on the tiles of the floor. The stencilled decoration on the rood screen frame pleased me greatly. I like the faded medieval pallet, become shabby if not chic. Standing here, I enjoy this absence of straight lines and the play of light and shadow. 

Now, monochrome is all very atmospheric and all that, but it doesn't lend itself to an appreciation of saints on rood screens in my opinion. Therefore, like the shock of a Red Admiral butterfly's wing in the midst of drab nettles, I will revert to colour photography here. I don't know the collective noun for saints so I will invent one... this parade of saints are nicely painted and, mercifully, not over-restored either. 

Being a medieval graffiti hunter, I was, naturally, on the look-out for any interesting inscriptions. Within the interior of the church, I was to be disappointed in this quest I'm afraid. However, I was pleased to note this rather accomplished little graffito carefully carved into the lid of the church chest. 

I then walked over nonchalantly to examine what appeared to be an East Anglian style font. I could be wrong, but looking at the precise and regular tooling marks and the lack of medieval 'movement' in the carving, I came to the conclusion that this one is Victorian pastiche. 

However, this in no way distracted from my appreciation of the view as I turned to look along the church towards the chancel. Once again, the frame of the rood, together with the lean of the aisle arches captivated me. 

And, finally, as I step outside with you, let's have some colour here. 

Adieu & a resounding 'Huzzah!' to you all

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq ~

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