The Denver Post - - FEATURES -

monks, work­ing painstak­ingly on wooden scaf­fold­ing, stretch­ing up into the bar­rel-vaulted ceil­ing, brushes in hand, some­time around the year 1130. I think too of the con­gre­ga­tion — il­lit­er­ate peas­ants for whom the Latin church ser­vice would have been lit­tle more than gob­bledy­gook, and of how im­por­tant the im­ages would have been in teach­ing them the Chris­tian story.

It’s easy to think about this be­cause there’s no one around to dis­turb me. St. Mary’s Church is truly off the beaten path. I sit on one of the plain, wooden pews, gaze at the walls, and soak in the de­li­cious, heavy si­lence.

You don’t have to be re­li­gious to be en­thralled by old churches. I’m not. What I love is their role as the keep­ers of his­tory, there in their stones, carv­ings and paint­ings. A thou­sand years of clues, stretch­ing back to the Nor­mans and be­fore.

And that re­minds me. As well as its paint­ings, St. Mary’s has the old­est timwrit­ten ber roof, and one of the old­est wooden doors still in use, in the coun­try.

Not bad for a small church, hid­den away among hedges, on the edge of Eng­land.

Jerry Harmer, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Je­sus, six Apos­tles and an­gels are painted on the roof of the chan­cel of St Mary’s Church. The church’s wall paint­ings were white­washed dur­ing re­li­gious tur­moil un­der Henry VIII and were re­dis­cov­ered hun­dreds of years later.

Jerry Harmer, The As­so­ci­ated Press

A de­pic­tion of the Wheel of Life, sur­rounded by rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the Ten Ages of Man. Ex­perts be­lieve the ear­li­est of the church’s paint­ings date from around 1130 AD.

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