Looking Back in Time… Remembering…

This post was written a while ago and is one of my favourites. I really must do more of these…

DSCF2214
My Screensaver

I am in the habit of changing my screen saver/background image quite often. I  like to have something lovely on my computer screen, as it is the first thing I see every morning.

This picture appealed to me for several reasons. I love trees, and this one is lovely but also ethereal, the mist hiding most of the scene. I particularly like the contrast between the nakedness of the sleeping tree and the tree covered in blossom.

I have recently found myself  ‘skimming’ when reading and writing, and I am not seeing or describing anything enough, which is not good. This post is an exercise not only for my eyes but also for my imagination. I don’t want to think of my old age robbing me of so much of my enjoyment of life.

The blossom tree in this image attracted me first, being frustratingly out of focus enough to prevent easy identification. The blossoms are pure white, with no hint of colour, and the petals are delicate and small. The branches look old, but the slender double trunk would suggest otherwise. Are there any more clues in the picture?

The tree is blooming very early. The companion trees are still bare, their branches stark and austere looming through the mist. Winter has not long departed, as I imagine the chilly dampness of the morning on my skin. The shrubbery in the background is sparse, too, confirming that Mother Nature is not fully awake yet.

My mind sifts through my knowledge of flowering trees and comes up with a likely choice. Is it a Magnolia, one of the small-flowered varieties, maybe Stellata?

Moving on from the details of the image, my mind is not finished. I wonder where this lovely little tree is. The setting would suggest a park, for the area seems too big to be someone’s garden. Vague images hide in the mist, indicating far more space than first thought.

Could that be a roof I see? It doesn’t look like the roof of a house, though…

My mind yearns to explore this scene, visit the tree and then walk into the mist to see what I can discover…

Jaye

The Church in the Woods

bramdean-church-peeping-through-the-trees

One of my granddaughters has inherited my love of discovering and exploring unusual places. Not surprising really, when I think of some of the places we visited when she was small.

So when she announced that she had found something that I had to see, her excitement rapidly transferred to me. Rather than wait for a better day, we set off late one afternoon. She assured me that with a bit of luck, we should get there before the light faded.

She also said it wasn’t far, and I eyed the gathering evening clouds with suspicion. I hoped it wouldn’t turn out to be a wasted journey, becoming too dark to see anything for I wanted to take some photographs of whatever it was.

On the way to Winchester, we turned down a leafy lane and found ourselves driving through a beautiful forest. I would have to come back here again to explore for I always feel very at home in a forest. The magical closeness of all those trees does beautiful things to my soul.

We passed a massive ragged tree stump that had been hit by lightning, the eerie sight reinforcing the feeling that we were far from civilisation. What on earth had my grand-daughter found, way out here? There didn’t seem to be anything but trees for miles.

We drove into a clearing and stopped. We were here, wherever here was. It was getting darker, although the forest was so dense it probably always looked like this.

A small overgrown path wound its way through woodland plants of ferns and mosses, and I still couldn’t see anything. Surely, we hadn’t come all this way to look at a tree?

The smell of leaf mould was strong, wrapping itself around me, making me feel like some kind of wood nymph. My steps were getting lighter and I wanted to run, my heart soaking up the wild greenness of this magical timeless place.

Then, just as the light began to fade away, I saw something.

In a clearing, I caught the glimpse of some kind of building. It wasn’t very big and looked old. What could it be?

186-001

As we drew nearer, it began to take the shape of something out of a fairy tale. Enclosed by a fence was what could only have been a church. Built of corrugated iron and painted green, it sat in in the middle of the clearing as though dropped there. I had expected some ruin, an old building barely standing, but the church looked to be in pristine condition. Someone must spend a lot of time here, I thought.

weather-vane-on-bramdean-church

It had a steeple with a bell and one window was stained glass, although it would only have been visible from inside. Through another  window, I could see rows of old wooden pews and an altar. I retraced my steps to the gate to read the plaque to discover the history of the place, eager to know all about this “Church in the Woods”.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The following information and the photographs used are supplied through the courtesy of Hampshire-History.com

It took just five days to build this mission church in 1883. The great sheets of corrugated iron and timber frame would have been carted in and the whole constructed with missionary joy and zeal. We are uncertain what the base would have been constructed from but a small flight of steps brings you to the doorway. Above it, the church bell sits in its turret and an iron steeple points skywards, topped with a weather vane.

Many of these iron churches or ‘tin tabernacles’ as they are known were built around the country. Hampshire has a few more of its own, the church of St Peter’s at Beech near Alton and St Francis Gosport included.

The iron church was a Victorian solution to a number of problems

Population growth was rapid during the Victorian period and a new wave and enthusiasm for church and chapel building began. Although the Victorians wanted their church structures to be magnificently designed and beautifully decorated, for those on the margins of society, the architectural designs were sometimes an expensive step too far. Many of these churches had to be raised at the cost of the congregation and clerics themselves. The new flat pack corrugated church was the solution. This allowed missionary churches to spring up wherever there was thought to be a need. Local populations could build them for themselves. They could also be sent overseas and were ideal for those settling in frontier lands.

The corrugated building started to be mass-produced and were sold through catalogues. There were not just churches for sale, cottages, schools and even railway stations were sold. Each was illustrated with a picture and a price. The size could be altered according to what the customer wanted.

Prefabricated iron churches were relatively cheap to buy, costing anything from £150 for a chapel seating 150 to £500 for a chapel seating 350.

By 1875 hundreds of iron clad churches were being erected, many with extensive gothic style embellishments as can be seen at the church in the woods at Bramdean in Hampshire.

 

 

Save