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St Andrew, Kilverstone
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St Andrew is a charming building, lovely of proportion, a squat, castellated round tower against a heavily restored Norman church. The south doorway is original, but the other Norman features, the west window and the tub-like font inside, are an 1850s pastiche.
We came here to find that a Flower Festival was in progress. I used to be wary of visiting churches on these occasions, but I've come to find that the bedecking is rarely intrusive. It usually doesn't cover up anything important, unless the church has a significant font or a rood screen, and I knew this was not the case with Kilverstone. We stepped into the tiny nave to see that the displays were not much bigger than you'd find for a typical wedding. Another reason I've warmed to flower festivals in recent years is that they do give you a valuable insight into the mind of the parish. In the last few months, I had visited two churches in Suffolk holding flower festivals, and had been fascinated by the treasure trove of local historical items which the people had collected together. One festival had been themed on the subject of the 1950s, while the other had depicted 'weddings through the decades'. Both were excellent, without spoiling an exploration of the church itself. The items of interest were not the flowers, of course, but the photographs, books, clothes and the like which they'd used to augment the displays.
The other thing I like is that you get to meet local people, and there's no suspicion about your visit. They actively want you to take photographs. The two ladies on duty here were very accommodating, turning off the bright lights so that we could photograph the glass, and even offering to move a display, which I wouldn't countenance, of course. The theme was 'United Nations', and each display depicted a different country. There were objects which you might associate with the country in question: there were clogs for Holland, for instance, and a beret and onions for France. It was all cheerfully done. I couldn't help smiling, especially on overhearing a conversation between two other visitors:
Simon Knott, November 2008
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