hen I say I’m a church recorder, people often look blank,” says Adrian Parker. “Others,” he adds with a chuckle, “seem to think I’m some sort of senior judge.”
It is a confusing moniker. When I first heard it, it conjured up an image of recorder players lining up alongside the choir in the church stalls. “I suppose there are worse titles,” concedes another of their number, Matt Smith, “but at least it intrigues people and that gets them asking more about what we do.”
Parker and Smith are both church recorders in the King’s Lynn area of north Norfolk. What they actually do is volunteer one morning a week to go along to a local historic church (of which Norfolk boasts more than its fair share) and compile for posterity a complete inventory in words and pictures of its fabric and internal furnishings.
We are meeting in one that they have just completed after almost three years’ labour (though the season only runs from May to October because old churches tend to get too cold and inhospitable in winter). St Mary’s in the small village of South Creake, five miles from the coast, dates back to the 12th century, though it was rebuilt in the 15th, and then got caught up in the first half of the 20th in the frenzy of the Anglo-Catholic or High Anglican revival that centred on nearby Walsingham, once one of Europe’s greatest Marian shrines.
Such heady days are long gone. St Mary’s boasts only a handful of regular communicants, but the reminders of its past glories are all