Suffolk churches 204: Orford (September 2021)

Total Suffolk churches 11th April 2017 – 4th September 2021: 504 + 7 additional historic chapels and churches

St Bartholomew’s, Orford
Concert photos courtesy of Richard Allenby-Pratt, Linden Baxter, Alison Marshall and Sheida Davis; church photos taken by me a few days prior to the event.

OrfordOrford 2The day had finally arrived for my final medieval Suffolk church: no. 504. Including the unofficial extras, the total came to 511, with only one included in error – Higham, in west Suffolk, which is actually a church of Victorian foundation. So the true number of Suffolk medieval churches – of which any part remains above ground – is 503, including active and redundant, public, private, converted and ruined churches. I am fairly confident I didn’t leave out a single one.

As predicted, I was pretty nervous, as I had been for most of the week. Not only about the performance and the boomy church acoustic – which isn’t a problem when you are playing solo Bach suites but can be a lot more problematic for chamber music – but about the whole occasion. I was responsible for nearly all the organising, and there was really no way round the fact I needed to say a few words at the beginning. Speaking at the end might have been easier (or possibly harder, if the adrenaline had run its course), but I wanted music to have the last word.

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Winter treasure 8: Shingle Street

Shingle Street16/2/2018 Shingle Street is the other place in Suffolk that I prefer in winter. Like Staverton Thicks, I first visited in December, on a misty and mysterious afternoon. This winter I took my Christmas visitors there for a Boxing Day walk before our picnic in the woods.

It is a remote, wild and deserted-feeling place, suited to the cold, wind, mist and lack of human activity in winter. It is also one of the few places I have found in Suffolk where, temperature aside, change is barely seasonal. A few colonies of flowering coastal plants live on the stable area of shingle near the Coastguard Cottages, but otherwise change happens on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, according to the tides and winds rather than the tilt of the earth.

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Medicinal walking: the Isle of Wight and Suffolk

7th February I have learned two things today. First, that never having had any historical personal bond with the sea or coast, they have become part of me. Second, that one can walk off pain, as one can walk off calories. Perhaps not in quite such a calculable fashion, but walk for a day and the burden of pain at the end of it is noticeably less than it was at the start. I can almost physically feel it lessen with every step that I take.

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