Christmas 1973 – and so to church…


St Peter's, Tiverton

Winter light, early afternoon at St Peter’s Church, Tiverton, 2013. A gallery of hassocks, appreciated by someone enough to raise them from the ancient floor so they can greet visitors with all the flourish of a medieval pageant. The subjects are wild and varied, many birds and even Saint George tackling a dragon. In particular their are owls. Many owls. (Currently owls are all over our high streets, from stylised 1970s versions staring saucer-eyed from tea towels to teapots, doorstops, notebooks… this is definitely the decade of the wild wood. If only people loved the real thing as much.)

Owl 2

Only in winter. They’re the most convincingly shy owls I’ve met.

owl 3

I wish you could buy this kind of light as an electric bulb.

St Peter's Church, Tiverton

At one end of the church is this wall painting, a pristine postcard from the early seventies, a trail through centuries of townspeople. It’s folk art perfection with more than a hint of medieval heaven and hell. There’s so much to see – from the artist’s effort to write the times into the face of each decade to the turn of each head. And it ends in louche, 1970s perfection. You can almost read a quiet, assertive knowledge in the girl’s face: ‘Look how far we’ve come’. Where did we go?

Tiverton 4

I could almost be going home to watch the 1973 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special, for here’s the Queen Mother. In this corner of Devon she’s still graciously doing her thing.


8 thoughts on “Christmas 1973 – and so to church…

  1. Brilliant and evocative post ~ although I would have been 21 in 1973~ it is still a time that evokes a yearning nostalgia in me ~ life certainly felt different then and for me still full of potential and a magic which soon became almost obliterated with the I, Me, Mine mind- set of the 1980’s. Love your photos accompanying the post. I also have an even deeper feeling for what I remember as a child living in England in the 1960’s , so seeing any photos of such images takes me back even further ~ rather multi-layered. I think you must be a rare creature, in that you find so many of the things you do of interest. I doubt there are many other people in your generation, who came up just behind mine, that share your awareness and appreciation of so many of the things you do. Wonderful however to know that there are actually people out there with your sensitivity, appreciation and respect for the natural world, beauty in all forms and the best we have from the past . Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and always wonderful images.

    • Thanks so much for enjoying the posts. It is a bit like an advent calendar, and I can at least build up some Christmas spirit… I might notice stuff or daydream a lot but I’m sure I’m not any more interested in my daily tasks than the next person – can assure you there’s plenty of non-interest activity that has to be done! And, reassuringly, there are plenty of people out there who appreciate all these things too (they probably have quieter voices than the burger and donut brigades…)

  2. Yes, you are right re: there probably quite a few people whose interests might be similar , but they just tend to be less obvious or vocal. I guess that is why one might conclude there are less of them, but perhaps not~ just the burger brigade a bit more apparent.

  3. Such a lovely post – perfect for providing much-needed quiet moments and winter-magic amongst all the rush and busyness. The hassocks are so beautiful; wonderful to see them ranged across the pews like that. What a greeting as you walk in the church! And I love the wall painting – what a special folding of moments in time – a snapshot of an era, and how it related itself to history and to the connections of the passing years… (not expressing that very well). Loving these advent posts. I’m struggling to get into the Christmas spirit, with so much time-pressure weighing the week down – being here is a lovely breathing space of Yuletide magic. Thank you!

    • It was quite a special church – one of those that feels solid and constant and unchanging, outside of the fads and initiatives, and so much the better for it. I found myself thinking if church was always like this, I’d be tempted to go! It seems so little value is placed on quiet, at-a-distance outside-it-all timeless wisdom in our era: some things just don’t need to be ‘with it’, to coin my grandma’s old phrase! But then, I’m probably quite singular in that: don’t expect it would make a great marketing campaign in 2013…

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