Is it summer in Hastings? The Church in the Wood.

The weather has gone beserk this month. It is incredibly dry and the garden is like a desert. Despite quite a chilly wind, the sea-front is full of ice-creams and quivering masses of post-winter pale flesh.
     Battleaxe’s garden is a strange mixture of spring flowers and things that should be out later in the season. Birds are also very busy. Here are a few flowery pictures, and our regular goldfinches eating their nyger seed. Where do they build their nests?

Persistent narcissi
Snowflakes with forget-me-nots
Tulips and daffs…

     Yesterday, we were over in Hollington.  Just before you get to that horrendous cathedral of consumerism, the Tesco megastore, you pass the sign pointing to ‘Church in the Wood’. Thought we’d have a look.
     The little church is set in the middle of a very large, peaceful graveyard, full of old and interesting graves, with indeed, many beautiful trees, and woods all around.
     Unfortunately, the church itself was locked, with no indication about when it might be open or where to find the key. So many churches are like that these days. What if you were suddenly caught short with a need for spiritual sustenance? What if you are a Battleaxe trying to write about local churches?
     We had a prowl round outside. The wildflowers in the graveyard were beautiful – wood anemones, celandines, primroses, violets, narcissi and bluebells, all out together.

Church in the Wood
Wood anemones in the churchyard

Old and interesting graves
And primroses

The little church dates from the thirteenth century, although there was a chapel on the site from pre-Norman times. The reason for its isolated position is unknown. The church was comprehensively  restored/rebuilt in Victorian times. It is a romantic place, supposedly haunted, and the site of miracles. It has been extensively photographed and painted over the years. Here are a few examples. The first two are old postcards:

Before restoration and rebuilding

Charles Lamb visited the church in 1823, and wrote the following:

‘The best thing I hit upon was a small country Church (by whom or when
built unknown), standing bare and single in the midst of a grove, with
no house or appearance of habitation within a quarter of a mile, only
passages diverging from it through beautiful woods, to so many farm
houses. There it stands, like the first idea of a Church, before
parishioners were thought of, nothing but birds for its congregation…’

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