The voice and song remind me
of why I don’t come.
The words and the platitudes wash over me,
echo and reverberate around this sacred space,
crying for heaven
though never finding any home.
The bats are nearer but unaware
of their advantage,
leaving me staring high into this perpendicular sky.
Is this all that is left?
Listening to Betjeman and Vaughan Williams
to stir us up,
to remind us of what once was.
This is me and you coming here,
though never spiritual partakers
in a creed we can’t believe.
Give me the fire and brimstone,
a faith which disturbs me
into knowing I’m not already saved.
It is better than this – looking up in awe
into a world that is lost.
words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019
Swinstead lies in the beautiful south west Lincolnshire in the east of England.
Interestingly, in Shakespeare’s play King John, Swinstead is mentioned several times, maybe in mistake for Swineshead, where King John is thought to have visited on his last journey, before he died at Newark in Nottinghamshire.
Like nearby Corby Glen church, there are some examples of medieval wall art.
There is an explanation for the symbols incorporated into the wall art.
Lincolnshire in the east of England has some wonderful, often underrated medieval churches.
One such is in the south west of the county, in the lovely village of Corby Glen. Here on many of the walls of the church you can see paintings and illustrations of religious and spiritual imagery, representing stories from the Bible and the faith and beliefs in general of the later medieval period.
If you look carefully, you can make out several layers of art, where older ones have been superseded with new work.
During the Reformation in the 1500s, all of this art was whitewashed over, part of the process of removing all imagery, which also meant stripping out idols and even rood screens which separated the nave from the chancel.
It was only in more recent times that this treasure trove of art was rediscovered through church restoration.
Today this art represents some of the most important medieval imagery not only in the county of Lincolnshire, but also in the whole of England.
Devil in the detail.
Explanation of the imagery inside the church.
The beautiful setting of the church of Saint John the Evangelist, Corby Glen, Lincolnshire.