Every May in north Lincolnshire in the east of England there is the West Lindsey Churches Festival, ‘A Celebration of Open Churches in West Lindsey’.
The idea is to raise interest and money for the upkeep of these historic buildings, icons of English cultural and Christian heritage.
To be honest, I’m not sure if we’d ever heard of it. The link only came up last week from the web, so I thought it would be worth a visit. We were very glad we came.
Our first stop was at the pretty village of Nettleham, at the Church of All Saints just a few miles north east of the magnificent city of Lincoln.
Nettleham is a large, seemingly thriving village of around three and half thousand souls with lots of local stores and some pubs, a heartening sight if there ever was. Inside the church we were greeted very courteously by the volunteers manning their stalls of old books, games, crafts, or selling food and drink. They were all very helpful, keen to tell us about the church and the village.
Sadly, in the 1960s there was a serious fire at All Saints, the result of arson. Since then the church has been restored very well, notable features being the new stained glass window at the east end and the roof.
Of course, there are no benefits from fires, but one of the things revealed by the tragedy was a series of medieval wall pattern illustrations, of the type which used to bedeck all churches before the Reformation, after which nearly all were whitewashed over.
Naturally, one of the benefits of going to these events is sampling the local cakes. We got a piece of carrot cake and apple cake, washed down by the proverbial cup of tea. The prices too, are very reasonable. We even took away a whole lemon drizzle cake!
Yes, it’s all very English and a jolly good thing to. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone inside, they made us very welcome.
The village of Nettleham is also very pretty and worth exploring, with a running stream making lovely feature.
And a little history
Incidentally, Lindsey, in which Nettleham lies, is not merely a division or riding of historic Lincolnshire, along with Kesteven and Holland; Lindsey was once a kingdom in its own right, ruled from Lincoln around thirteen hundred years ago, before it was swallowed up by the much larger Mercia.
After that there was a manor house here, called the Bishop’s Manor House, as it eventually became a possession of the Bishops of Lincoln. Sadly this is now demolished.
But it’s not all about the past. There is very much to see and enjoy here today, not just at the Churches Festival – it’s well worth a visit at any time if you’re nearby.
It’s hard to believe that around this time last year we were basking in temperatures around 30 degrees centigrade in ‘dear old Blighty’.
Today it’s about 10 at best and with the lack of sun and the cool wind it feels more like 4!
That said it got me wondering, laterally as usual, about why the famous ship the Mayflower was called as such.
According to the sources I came across it’s because the original owner of the ship was Florentine (from Florence, Italy) called Guicciardini; the Mayflower, or ‘Giglio’ in Italian, is the symbol of Florence. And the ship was due to set sail, in May.
Oh to set sail for pastures new!
So the Mayflower became the symbol of new beginnings in the so-called New World and is still one America’s greatest cultural icons.
I don’t know for sure but there may be other explanations. At least according to the above its naming had little to do with the Pilgrims who sailed on it, nor indeed Plymouth in western England from where they sailed.
Nevertheless it’s fascinating to hear of people in America who can trace their lineage back to the Mayflower. I will have to look out for examples of this, I would love to speak to some of them.