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St Lawrence, Ingworth
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The large grass mound is at the heart of the village. The Mill is opposite, and narrow lanes meet here, busy about their business. An old lady was painting the wrought iron fence as we arrived. Other churchcrawlers have told me that in late spring this fence keeps in the sheep that graze the churchyard. Sheep in a graveyard is always a pleasant sight; but it is more than that, especially given the biblical significance of sheep and lambs. The church, the sheep, the graves of the dead; sacramental, almost.
Tom and I stepped inside. Now, here is a place where the 19th century restoration was masterful in leaving us a neat, rustic little church that is at once mindful of its past and fitting for its present. You'd have to be really cynical not to love it. The tiny interior is full without feeling overcrowded, as if everything necessary is here but nothing more.
Directly opposite the south doorway there is an organ gallery on the north wall, with access from the former tower stump. Cautley thought that the font below it was one of the Seven Sacrament series, but if so then, as at Walpole St Peter, the panels have been completely erased. Turning east, there are pastel walls and a plain, simple brick floor stretching between makeshift benches and 18th century box pews. It is a church of the common people.
This is a place to sit and just think for a moment, especially if you are on a helter-skelter church crawl around this area as we were. And then, time to go, out through the crumbly old porch, which loving local hands have made good and mended over the years. Two rosemary bushes flank the entrance, and I took half a dozen cuttings for Jacquie. Two of them have survived, and Ingworth rosemary will flavour our roast lamb this coming Easter. Looking back as we walked down the path to the road, I noted the trimness of the thatched roofs, the finishing touch.
On its little mound in the middle of its village this church is utterly beguiling - or, at least, it seems so to my eyes. I wonder what effect it would have on a steely cynical heart?
Simon Knott, October 2005
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