Country churches fascinate me, the architecture, history, atmosphere, the churchyard...
I look up at the arches and the ceilings, the windows and the walls, but until now I have omitted to look at the kneelers.
The needlework is normally done by women of the parish. Sometimes they use designs of standard religious symbols, often purchased as a kneeler kit; but I think that the most interesting ones are those which show community history, houses, farming scenes, etc.
Often the reverse side has a little note saying who made it - and whether it was done in memory of someone, or for a particular occasion such as the millenium celebrations.
I wonder what is the story behind the gigantic tree with the little parson sitting on the bough? No doubt it is something highly symbolic and obvious.
This particular church is in Bag Enderby, one of the churches which Alfred Lord Tennyson would have frequented - his father was the vicar here.
The tiny hamlet also has the remains of an old tree, which is said to be where John Wesley preached..
I must learn to look down as well as up - and I must start checking the reverse side of the kneelers for those interesting little notes. Those clever needlewomen use cross-stitch, tapestry, long stitch and no doubt many others, to work their designs - they really are stitched with love - they are beautiful, as well as useful.
A 1516 definition of 'hassocks' (church kneelers) is 'especially in church to kneel on'. It is thought that until the end of the 19th century people provided their own kneelers.
I have read that the kneeler of today was 'born' in the 1930's in Winchester Cathedral with Salisbury following soon after. The trend spread and no doubt well-used churches have gone through quite a few since then.
The ones I have shown today are those of two very small, country churches, the one in Bag Enderby and the other in Somersby, birthplace of Alfred Tennyson. They are both set deep in rural Lincolnshire, so naturally nature, farming and country buildings feature heavily. Now that my eyes have been opened to their importance I shall pay them more heed in future.