The co-ordinates are: 53.136107, -0.222877
August 21, 2020 6:07 AM   Subscribe

There, in the middle of fields, stands the gorgeous St Leonard's Church A few days ago I got a message from a priest like "do you wanna come and visit this church?" There was one odd thing about it though, he sent me the church name, and the post code - and that was it. No street name, no village, no... Nothing. Then he sent me co-ordinates.

Jay Hulme takes Twitter (and us) on a day trip adventure to an ancient church tucked away in the middle of nowhere.
posted by jazon (34 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Wonderful! It reminds me of a better cared for version of the church in the village I grew up in, and looks to be a similar age. I did a quick google, and they are! Lovely buildings.
posted by Braeburn at 6:30 AM on August 21

Those keyhole photos tho!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:29 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]

I'm very curious about who is paying for the (apparently) high standard of upkeep.
posted by Think_Long at 7:31 AM on August 21

Would the Church of England be responsible for the upkeep, as it's a parish church? The parish website is here
posted by sarahdal at 7:37 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]

The hinges on that door and the woodwork inside are three times older than calculus.
posted by mhoye at 7:42 AM on August 21 [32 favorites]

I'll bet a location scout takes note of this thread and this church will soon star in a major motion picture.
posted by valkane at 7:51 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]

This put me a little in mind of the church of St Enodoc in Cornwall, though its not as old, parts do date back to the C12th. Its built in the dunes of the Cornish coast and is now also part of a golf course. The encroachment of sand meant the church was abandoned for an extended period until cleared in C19th. Its on the CW coast path so you can visit as part of a longer walk. The overall experience with the walk is a lovely one. Its also where one of the UK's C20th poet laureates, Sir John Betjeman, is buried.

Betjeman also favoured another Cornish church and graveyard, on the Cornish south coast at St Just-in-Roseland, describing it as the most beautiful on earth for many people.
posted by biffa at 8:06 AM on August 21 [6 favorites]

Beautiful. Thanks for posting!
posted by Gray Duck at 8:07 AM on August 21

Lovely. I wish he hadn't posted the coordinates.
posted by potrzebie at 8:29 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]

Goodness I thought this was the beginning of some faux-mystery ARG, someone cynically marketing a new energy drink or something. So nice for it to be a genuine interesting architectural artifact!

There's more abandoned countryside churches out there than you'd think, although few are in this good shape and still occasionally used for services. We visited a couple on the Isle of Skye, more ruins than buildings admittedly, and I think there's at least a couple more we didn't visit. France is littered with them too, doubly remarkable since there was a Revolution to scour so many away.
posted by Nelson at 8:42 AM on August 21

Lovely building, but surely nefarious deeds await visitors. Most likely involving an illicit affair or hidden past. Midsomer Murders has ruined me.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:52 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]

That was lovely - thank you for sharing!

It called to mind "Church Going," by Philip Larkin. Here is the last stanza:
A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.
And here's a nice essay about the whole poem and how it relates to rural churches.

It also made me think of its similarities to, and differences from, the Welsh Church just outside Iowa City. It's a bit younger, and still in use, and not quite so isolated.
posted by Caxton1476 at 8:57 AM on August 21 [14 favorites]

Was going to snark about this being yet another needlessly drawn-out tweetstorm of people "discovering" things in the English countryside – but it is not! He gets to the point quickly, doesn't make it overly mysterious, and provides detail and history. 10/10 would click again 👍
posted by adrianhon at 9:09 AM on August 21 [7 favorites]

Reminds me of the little graveyard that sat on the border of my paternal grandparents’ farm, where a country church had burned down years ago and was never rebuilt.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:26 AM on August 21

For about five years, until I left home, our parish church was St Botolph's, Beauchamp Roding, another church isolated in the fields, [just above the final P of Beauchamp in þe olde mappe. It's not as old as St Leonard's but features walls of flint rubble intermixed with some free stone with clunch dressings . . . a three stage tower with an embattled parapet etc. It was a source of wonder to me how rural and depopulated the area was although only 50 km NE of London Central. Mrs Smith, one of our neighbours, born about 1900, had never been to the city.
posted by BobTheScientist at 9:48 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]

Beautiful church, and the setting feels like an M. R. James tale
posted by kurumi at 9:50 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]

Lovely; thank you for posting!
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:52 AM on August 21

A serious house on serious earth it is,

Wow, I recently read the Grant Morrison Batman comic Arkham Asylum and it's full title is Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. Now I know where he got it from. Sad thing is I have Larkin's Collected Poems, and have read and spent some time with it, but there wasn't even a hint of recognition when I read the full title of the comic.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:24 AM on August 21

The chapel was called St Leonards Without because it stood just outside (without) the abbey precinct.
The Abbey was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1537 and the last abbot and three monks were executed.
posted by adamvasco at 10:50 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]

I wonder what aliens would think if they came upon these temples to religion which are always surrounded by fields full of dead bodies.
posted by JackFlash at 10:58 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]

I guess they'd want too know whether they were dead when they went in the field?
posted by biffa at 12:26 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Also, that knight effigy gives me serious Boba Fett vibes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:45 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]

I can't find a view of the Knight Effigy. I looked high and low in this thread.
posted by Oyéah at 1:28 PM on August 21

Reminds me of the little graveyard that sat on the border of my paternal grandparents’ farm, where a country church had burned down years ago and was never rebuilt.

Where I grew up, there were family graveyards everywhere. White people had only been there for 150 years or so by then, but it was still weird to think about several generations all having been born, lived, and died all on the same farm. In most cases, without ever having been more than a single digit number of miles from home.

And so many children. Not babies, though, because so many were stillborn or only lived a few weeks that they didn't bother with stone markers (if any marker at all).
posted by wierdo at 1:29 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]

Oyéah - The Knight Effigy is seen in this tweet:
posted by jazon at 1:40 PM on August 21

Knight Effigy
posted by RobotHero at 1:41 PM on August 21

Thank you, that place has some atmosphere, with the raw cross, and all. The knight is awesome even at rest, an army of one.
posted by Oyéah at 3:21 PM on August 21

I love this post, thanks for sharing! I would love to travel around looking at ancient remote churches (and other buildings for that matter). The sense of history is so thrilling.
posted by JenMarie at 4:57 PM on August 21

Midsomer Murders has ruined me.

Binge-watched something like 14 or 15 seasons before I tapped out. A bit like Cabot Cove, I don't know how Midsomer's population keeps replacing itself, especially with all the what must be horrifying headlines about the place all the time.
posted by hippybear at 6:18 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Last time I saw a church like that, I was getting eaten by a Bonethief and calling for Charlemagme.
posted by MrBadExample at 9:19 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]

The roof boss with the lamb is also remarkably lovely.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:20 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]

Reminds me of this abandoned 11th century chapel which we managed to find when we visited Croatia 5 years ago and stayed on the island of Krk ("Pat, I'd like to buy a vowel"). For such an a-vowed atheist, I'm strangely fascinated by old churches.
posted by drlith at 7:03 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]

For more ancient church joy, I recommend following the Friends of Friendless Churches on Twitter (@friendschurches). Their website offers a treasure trove of ancient churches. You can search by location, but I think it's more fun browsing by feature: perhaps you'd like to look at ruins or churches with wall paintings, or perhaps your interest is in Norman churches, or churches with pre-Christian origins, or churches in deserted mediaeval villages?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:09 AM on August 22 [5 favorites]

adrianhon: I'm definitely thinking that there might be important information about the zombie cure hidden there. Hoping its analog appears in a future episode of Zombies, Run!
posted by hydropsyche at 10:15 AM on August 22

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