Saturday, October 23, 2010

Haddiscoe



There was a settlement at Haddiscoe  long before fishermen began to dry their nets on the sandbanks at the mouth of the estuary -  sandbanks that were to become Great Yarmouth!


Parking my car beneath the church, with its 11th century Anglo-Norman round tower, I walked in the Beccles direction, on a footpath that crossed a bridge over the Landspring Beck . The first right turn took me, via quiet lanes, past Haddiscoe Hall and, at a junction a mile on, another right turn took me to the bottom of the valley.  A final right turn put me on an indistinct path along a ditch and field edge leading back to the St. Mary’s church.  The path was rich with flowers.   Butterflies flitted from flower to flower and dragonflies darted about my head as I made my way through waist high grass and masses of Lady’s Bedstraw!

As I got near the church a Buzzard flew out of the trees and the path plunged into a wooded glade known Devil’s Hole.   This is where the beck rises from a spring. It is frequented by Little Owls and thick with Bluebells in the early summer.

The church sits on a flat area that falls away suddenly to the valley and marsh below. Before the rivers were embanked and the marshes drained it would be the seaside!  That it was a former fishing village suggests the identity of the mysterious guardian of the church. Above the beautiful and elaborately carved  south door there is a relief carving. Who is it?


My best guess is - the fisherman - St. Peter. There is a throne and something (tongues of fire?) is going on over his head. If it is Peter, then the objects in his hands are keys to the eternal gates.  Together the door and carving proclaim the church as an outpost of heaven. Lines of a psalm come to mind  “I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”  Psalm 84. 10 

Going inside I knelt a while and prayed . Then, having touched base, went on my pilgrim way “looking for the city that is to come!”
“Happy are those whose strength is in you,” sings the Psalmist, “ in whose heart are the highways to Zion” …….7 “They go from strength to strength;   the God of gods will be seen in Zion” Psalm 84.5 & 7.

1 comment:

Aadil Desai said...

Nice article on the church.