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St Botolph, Barford
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Fields that will be golden when summer comes are stark and bleak under the early February skies. The air is full of the sweet, damp smell of turned earth on both sides of the narrow lane that leads to, and ends at, St Botolph. Lapwings huddle impassively in the furrows, each alone. The ploughed field, the flint churchyard wall and the rendering of the church are variations on the same theme, at once a man-made world in greys and browns, and a holy place grown organically from the ground. It is a reminder that we were the land's before the land was ours.
The chancel's low-side window has gone, but its shelf survives like that at neighbouring Wramplingham. On the other side of the chancel is a jaunty organ with the keyboard on the side. Also of interest is the 1902 memorial to Frances Stone, carved by her husband in an idiosyncratic style. I wondered if he had also been responsible for the marquetry of the reredos, which must be contemporary. Many churches have details of interest like these, and Barford has lots of them; but it was too cold to stay inside for long.
Back outside in the relative warmth, I picked my way carefully into the ploughed field to get the shot at the top of this page. Behind me, I heard a flurry and the beating of air as hundreds of lapwings took flight.
Simon Knott, February 2006
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