Friday, October 06, 2006

Of Beavers, Skylarks and Cats



The Babingley River has long been tamed, but in days gone past it was treacherous! It was a tidal estuary where, the story goes, St. Felix, the first person to evangelise the East Anglians, was shipwrecked – shipwrecked and then rescued by beavers!

Apart from the (now dilapidated) village sign celebrating Felix and the beavers, farm buildings, a ruined 15th century church and a charming “tin tabernacle” there’s not much left of old Babingley! But there is archaeological evidence of a once bustling settlement around the church. Knowing the way missionaries operated in the early days of Christianity in East Anglia, it is safe to guess that Felix established a monastery and evangelised the whole area from here.

There is nothing to see at the church but a well marked permissive path takes today’s pilgrim 2 ½ miles in a circular route around the church, through wide meadows and open skies. The walk begins opposite the place where the B1439 joins the A149. It follows the farm track past the farm, turns south towards the river after a small wood and then comes back along the river. Finally, it returns to the start along a metalled driveway.

I walked along the river bank on a grey March day, enjoying the thought that in Felix’s day I would have been under water. The words of the psalm came to mind, “And whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea….”! As I went I contemplated the possibility of beavers bringing Felix to safety. Just then the song of a rising skylark drew my eyes and heart to heaven! As if to remind me animals do help in the Christian life!

At the metalled drive I chose to turn right to Castle Rising. Norman Fahy, who looks after the Castle, is convinced that the castle had an earlier life before the Norman conquest. He thinks it began life in Saxon times, as an extension of the imagined Babingley monastery. If you go to Castle Rising, check out the font in church just above the castle gateway. You’ll see Felix’s sign, the cat! ( In Latin cat is felis, and luck, felix!)

Q: Was it luck that allowed Felix to bring us the faith?

A: that really was,” more than lucky!”

Access – Buses run along the A149 between Kings Lyn and Hunstanton. Castle Rising Church has good wheelchair access!



© 2006 Richard Woodham

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