Places: Christ Church, Westerdale

Westerdale is a tiny village a couple of miles to the west – logically – of Castleton. Even quieter than Castleton, I’m not sure it even has a pub and at least a couple of the roads leading there have grass growing through the middle of the tarmac. Despite or perhaps because of this it’s a lovely little place, a quintessential sleepy Moors village. I decided to walk out there and explore a couple of weeks ago and found the beautiful Christ Church, hiding behind its trees and hedges, to be Westerdale’s best kept secret. So here we go, I thought I’d share!

The Castleton-Westerdale road. Looks like it leads nowhere, doesn’t it?

Castleton-Westerdale road.

But actually, hiding away at the far end, you find this:

Christ Church, Westerdale

The church itself is screened from the main road by a series of hedges and trees, some of which are gorgeously overgrown with creepers:

Christ Church gate.

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Natural garland on the hedge.

Natural garland.

This railed grave buried in rhododendrons touched my heart. I love rhododendrons, I’d rather like my own grave one day to look like this:

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Venturing inside the church, there’s a porch which contains a few very, very old-looking gravestones:

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In most English country churches the porch opens straight into the main body of the church, but here there’s a tiny additional room that houses the bell ropes; cool and shadowy, almost like some sort of spiritual airlock to protect the atmosphere of the church. As I walked in, there was just one patch of truly vivid light:

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My cameraphone hasn’t done full justice to the colours, sadly, or the texture of the light: truly jewel-like, subtly patterned by the weave of the carpet on which it was lying. But you can get an idea of it, and this is one of the only times I’ve ever seen stained glass really project the kind of colours and light that it’s always described as doing in novels. Here’s the little window that was casting it:

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Why a fish? Who knows. I have no idea of the story behind this, but I’m sure there is one.

I also took a few pictures of the bigger windows in the main church:

Above the altar.

Above the altar.

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Detail of the window above. There were little Zodiac astrological symbols in each quarter of the window.

Detail of the glass above. There were little zodiac astrological symbols in each quarter of the window.

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A few other fixtures and fittings:

The altar, draped in its cloth.

The altar, draped in its cloth.

Memorial brass in the form of a Calvary cross.

Memorial brass in the form of a Calvary cross.

I had to look up the significance of this next item, not being particularly familiar with Christian liturgy, but I learned that this is a Paschal candle, lit as part of the Easter services. This one is from 2012:

Paschal candle.

Paschal candle.

On the way out of the church, I spotted this little text written out and pinned to the noticeboard:

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Finally, a couple of photos from the walk home, as I found another route back down a road even more unfrequented than the one I came in by. Sadly I didn’t get photos of the weasel whom I spotted nosing around in the grass verge – he/she was too quick and wary by far to let me get that close! – but I did find a wild rose-briar, and a row of foxgloves growing by a dry stone wall, so I took pictures of those instead:

Wild roses.

Wild roses.

Foxgloves, wall, grass and sky. What more could you want?

Foxgloves, wall, grass and sky. Perfect.

All in all, a wonderful day. Hope you enjoyed these – thanks for reading, as ever!

 

 

 

 

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