Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fursey Pilgrimage 2010

2nd October was the annual Fursey Pilgrimage at Burgh Castle

Lovely day! Well done everyone!

Fursey celebration at St Matthews, Norwich on 15th Jan

More info ......

Flixton in Loving Land

In 1630 the Rev’d Brisley preached at the rededication of St. Andrew’s, Flixton.  He called his sermon,  'The Glory of the Latter Temple greater than the Former' 
When published in London in 1631 it carried a sub-title 'A Sermon preached at the Consecration or Restitution of the Church of Flixton, in Lovingland, Suffolk, being sometimes the Mother Church of the East Angles.'.  The Glory has passed!  All that is left are ivy clad ruins

I was following my St. Felix obsession. Was the farm, the ton,  that bore his name – Flixton - once part of  the saint’s estates?  Had Felix’s feet walked these paths? and had he and his fellow monks worshipped on this hill?

Other visitors had noted Roman tiles in the crumbling walls. Were the tiles from Burgh Castle, the near by  Roman fort,  where Felix’s fellow missionary St. Fursey had his base?  Now there’s a thought!  . Fursey  and Felix neighbours on what in the 7th century was an island at the mouth of the great estuary.  
Lothingland  we call the area but the Rev’d Brisley called it Lovingland !  
That seems a more appropriate name . Out of love for God St. Felix left Burgundy and Fursey,  Ireland  to bring the Good News that in the Saxon tongue we called God-Spel!

That was long ago. So much has happened since. Viking raids! The Norman Conquest! The Black Death! Civil War! Industrial Revolution! World Wars!   Today machines cultivate fields where men once followed ox drawn ploughs. Pylons march across the land carrying electricity from off-shore wind farms!

And to this day the conversion of the East Angles, which the saints began, has not been completed!  Will those who take up the baton  and (try) to follow in their footsteps find the challenge has lost anything of its urgency or the God-Spel/Gospel lost any of its power?

I explored the network of paths between Oulton and the Blundeston /Oulton Road that meet at St. Andrew’s Church on a rise to the south of Home Farm. I parked on the road, walked up the farm drive – it  doubles as a footpath -  and turning right before reaching the house. At the top of the hill at the side of the track a fingerpost sends walkers on a circular path. Look on the opposite side of the track for the ruins.

St. Andrew’s font stands outside the priests’ door of St. Mary, Blundeston


There was a settlement at Haddiscoe  long before fishermen began to dry their nets on the sandbanks at the mouth of the estuary -  sandbanks that were to become Great Yarmouth!

Parking my car beneath the church, with its 11th century Anglo-Norman round tower, I walked in the Beccles direction, on a footpath that crossed a bridge over the Landspring Beck . The first right turn took me, via quiet lanes, past Haddiscoe Hall and, at a junction a mile on, another right turn took me to the bottom of the valley.  A final right turn put me on an indistinct path along a ditch and field edge leading back to the St. Mary’s church.  The path was rich with flowers.   Butterflies flitted from flower to flower and dragonflies darted about my head as I made my way through waist high grass and masses of Lady’s Bedstraw!

As I got near the church a Buzzard flew out of the trees and the path plunged into a wooded glade known Devil’s Hole.   This is where the beck rises from a spring. It is frequented by Little Owls and thick with Bluebells in the early summer.

The church sits on a flat area that falls away suddenly to the valley and marsh below. Before the rivers were embanked and the marshes drained it would be the seaside!  That it was a former fishing village suggests the identity of the mysterious guardian of the church. Above the beautiful and elaborately carved  south door there is a relief carving. Who is it?

My best guess is - the fisherman - St. Peter. There is a throne and something (tongues of fire?) is going on over his head. If it is Peter, then the objects in his hands are keys to the eternal gates.  Together the door and carving proclaim the church as an outpost of heaven. Lines of a psalm come to mind  “I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”  Psalm 84. 10 

Going inside I knelt a while and prayed . Then, having touched base, went on my pilgrim way “looking for the city that is to come!”
“Happy are those whose strength is in you,” sings the Psalmist, “ in whose heart are the highways to Zion” …….7 “They go from strength to strength;   the God of gods will be seen in Zion” Psalm 84.5 & 7.