Silent Sunday…..So Off to Church


Old Eidfjord Church

Some restoration work has taken place to preserve this Old Norwegian Church. Rustic in appearance, we are told that this is how it would have been in the 18th century.  The White stone built church dates back to 1309 and for centuries was the Parish Church for Eidfjord.

The village is surrounded by the high mountains through which Hardangerfjord carves its way. I am told that the name Eidfjord comes from the Norwegian name of Eidar which translated means Farm, very appropriate, for despite the isolation created by the mountains, the shores along the Fjord are very fertile and lined with farms and orchards.

The villagers of Eidfjord built themselves a new church…. but the old church was not abandoned and is used for special occasions.


Eidfjord, Hardangerfjord, Norway

Eidfjord, Hardangerfjord Norway

19th August

(C) David Oakes 2018




Silent Sunday….so off to Church


St. Josephs Shrine, Foxlow Edge, Errwood in the Goyt Valley on the Derbyshire/Cheshire border

A simple shrine set in some stunning moorland countryside on the Derbyshire and Cheshire county border. It was built on the once prestigious Errwood Estate by the owners of Errwood Hall in memory of a Miss (Sister) Delores who was once a treasured governess to the families children.  Errwood Hall is long gone and indeed much of the surrounds are now underwater having been drowned to create a Reservoir.

It all adds to a certain sadness when one explores the valleys and moorland edges in this unique part of the Peak District. But it also a place for ramblers to pause relax and ponder.

What I also find very sad is that today is what is called the “Glorious Twelve” the day when the guns come out to shoot Grouse on the Moors.  I see nothing glorious in organising parties (for not inconsiderable amounts of money) to shoot small birds that have been specially bred, released on the moors and then blasted out of the skies as they are ‘encouraged’ to fly by teams of drivers.  Moors that are no longer habitat rich due to sporting land management. They call it sport…. one has to wonder. Not such a Glorious Twelve.

12th August

(C) David Oakes 2018


Silent Sunday…. So off to Church


A Very Silent Church

On the Isle of Skye in Strath Suardal you can find the skeleton of this old Scottish Kirk.  Know as Cill Chriosd (Christ’s Church).  Dating back to some time before 1505 when the first written reference to the church was found,Cill Chriosd replaces a 7th century church for the Parish of Ashaig which was founded by St. Maol Ruadh.

Open roofed,and whilst some preservation has occurred,it is today a ruin. Nor is this unusual in the Scottish Highlands. The ruins of old churches are testament to a time when the Highlands prior to the clearances were more heavily populated with Parishes scattered across what is now bare landscapes.  It does help paint a picture of those days when crofting, whilst hard, was a tradition.

There is a reason why so many of these ruined, and often roofless, churches are still standing…often in a walled or fenced surround is important.

These surrounds are more often than not graveyards, still with marker stones, these themselves showing there age. Important Graveyards are one of the Clan Traditions requiring the provision of Clan Burial Grounds.  Here at Cill Chriosd it is for the Mackinnon’s of Strath.

As you travel across the Highlands, however remote you are sure to come across similar ruins.  Far too many to stop and examine each and everyone but well worth the time spent on those that really catch your eye.


Cill Chriosd was replaced in 1804 by a new Church at Broadford.  So the Congregation moved….but Cill Chriosd like many other old churches across the Highlands still take care of there long gone Parishioners.

5th August

(C) David Oakes 2018


Silent Sunday….. So Off to Church


Saint Aldhelm’s Chapel, Dorset

Dating old Churches and Chapels is often difficult and not always precise.  In the case of this isolated, yet dramatical located Chapel, it would appear more difficult than usual. Much of its history surrounding this building is either local legends and supported by conflicting records.

_DOI8440_00120-aaa What has always caused confusion and doubt as to the buildings original purpose is the construction of the building itself.  First it is square (only 7.77m square), that in itself is far from usual in a religious building.  Secondly it is that the four corners that are located on the compass points…not the usual East/West orientation of a Christian Religious building.  However step in side the single arched doorway and you are greeted with a fine vaulted ceiling and that rather makes its own statement.

It is suggested that the Chapel was at one time connected to the Chapel at Corfe Castle and some of the first written records refer to dates around 1216. But many believe the construction is much earlier.  One legend that holds much favour is that the Father, of a newly married couple who were drowned, when there boat capsized in a sudden storm in the sea below this headland, instructed the building be erected as a memorial to them. The building was to act as a lookout on this dangerous coastline.

It is also suggested that this  was actually known  a Chantry  where a Priest would say prayers for the safety of sailors. Other stories suggest that this was a place of shelter for hunting parties and used by royalty and local nobility.  As to the dedication to Saint Aldhelm well there is a named saint connection with Lady Saint Marys Church at Wareham (see last Sundays posting).

Over the years the Chapel was used by the residents of the nearby Coastguard Cottages as well as some dedicated locals.  Services are still held every Sunday Evening in August and used by visitors throughout the year and in all weathers as a place for quiet contemplation.

It is a long, dusty and in the summer, hot 2 mile walk to reach St. Aldhelm’s Head and the Chapel… once your have reached it do step inside and be surprised.  Try and interpret the old graffiti carved on the stone pillars.  Pause in on one of the pews…enjoy


Another point that may have some bearing on the legends.  The Cross on top of the roof is relatively modern addition.  It is believed that once a ‘cresset’ was on the roof so that a Beacon Fire could be lit to warn passing sailors of the headlands dangers. Other suggested that at one time a Bell for giving similar warning was located here. Recent repairs suggest that there is some evidence in support of a Beacon Fire.

Today a Coastguard Lookout Post is strategically located on the headland.  During WW2 military radio masters, antennae and early Radar Dishes were erected…..   Today very fitting sculpture has been added to the headland in recognition of those early radar days


St. Aldhelm’s Head in itself is worth the visit.  Expansive views over the English Channel, and on clear horizon days, views of the French Coast.  The coastline is rugged and one soon understand the need of navigational aids for sailors on what can be a very stormy coast….but on a hot sunny day its rather special…


29th July

(C) David Oakes 2018

Silent Sunday….. So Off to Church


Wareham, Dorset

Standing tall behind the Quay of this Ancient market town of Wareham is the Parish Church of Lady Saint Mary.  Its tower has dominated the surrounding skyline for many centuries acting not just as a marker for the town across the surrounding marshes but for shipping from Pool Harbour approaching the town via the River Frome.

Probably like all churches that we see today its location was probably dictated by the use of the site by early religious groups for worship.  Lady St. Mary was built St. Aldhelm in 705ad the then Bishop of Sherborne in what was known as the Kingdom of Wessex.  It was an Anglo Saxon construction with the tower being added later in 1500 and occasional increased in height.


The Nave looking East to the Chancel

As you enter Lady St. Mary you are struck by both the height and bright modern style of the interior.  Wooden beams, solid supporting pillars and arches and a dominant East Window. It is relatively modern…. the main body of the church and roof were reconstructed in 1840’s. Not really surprising as like most religious buildings it has been involved in turmoil and war over the many centuries since it was founded back in 705.  Invading Danes completely destroyed the church in 876 and Civil Wars and other incursions left there marks. (It is a wonder any of our historic churches are still standing)  Despite all the rebuilding’s and repairs it is still  much the  Anglo Saxon Style.

The Chancel is the on its own both colourful and dominant.  The East window was constructed in the 1300’s and the Coloured glazing added in 1886. The Organ Pipes add another dimension.  Next to the Chancel on the south side you drop down some steps to the small St. Edwards Chapel one of the oldest parts of the Church still much as it was, dating back to 1100’s a dedicated place for quiet reflection and prayer.

The Church also has a proud boast in so much as its Church Bells have been rung to mark just about every major event in the History of the UK.


The history of Wareham matches that of Lady St. Mary’s. Looking at the Quay which is the draw for todays Tourists with its waterside Pub and Tea Rooms, river trips up and down the River Frome it conveys a very different picture than its past importance.  The fact that the Quayside Pub was once a Granary is perhaps one clue.  In fact the River Frome and its direct link, across the surrounding marshes, to Poole Harbour made this a major Port of Dorset, trading across the maritime world and centre of trading commerce. Wareham was strategically located on some of the only higher dry ground above the marshes and between the two rivers of Frome and Piddle that flow on each side to the town.

Today it is still a busy market town, full of interest for any tourist… and to emphasis the national importance to the country in times past, Wareham has been the home of two Royal Mints.




Next Sunday we will travel  to another ancient Dorset Religious location with links to Lady St. Mary.

22nd July

(C) David Oakes 2018