Welcome to my July Blog.
I`ve been picking up on church visiting recently. Things are becoming slightly easier although it`s not been plain sailing, with individual churches having made their own decision on whether to open or not. In Norfolk about 70% of the churches that were open pre-Covid are now open. Many never closed at all. Depressingly, it`s the churches in tourist locations that are most likely to be closed. It really doesn`t make sense. Covid is an airborne infection and the risk of picking it up from surfaces has been overblown. Whilst you can go into countless shops to make purchases I`ve heard that you can`t even buy a guidebook in Chichester Cathedral!
I recently visited 13 churches in Hampshire in order to take photographs for my forthcoming book on Hampshire Churches. Only one was locked.The others all had sanitiser by the door and were fully accessible.
Micheldever (18thc octagonal nave)
Privett (built on the profits of Nicholson`s gin)
Yesterday I visited 9 churches in Cambridgeshire. Three were locked. Of the others four only allowed access into the nave. This is very disappointing and shows a misinterpretation of the guidelines regarding cleaning. Incidentally the Church of England ended its rule for private prayer only in mid-May but that message has yet to filter down to parish church level - many had posters discouraging ordinary visitors.
Foxton, Cambridgeshire (fifteenth century donors in the roof)
Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire (Clayton and Bell glass 1860)
Sadly, I have had to postpone the Leicestershire church tour this October as I couldn`t guarantee access to churches. However it will proceed next autumn, as will the postpopned tour to Somerset in April.
My ZOOM lecturers continue to be popular. Bookings are now being taken for the September to December period. www.eventbrite.co.uk and put my name in the search box. This is now my only source of income, and your support is much appreciated. I am also presenting ZOOM lectures for Denman, which are open to everyone www.denman.org.uk. Don`t forget that I am available to speak to your societies via Zoom - please pass my details on.
June saw the publication of my small book on NORFOLK CHURCHES. It is available from all the usual outlets or direct from me at £14.95 post free. The Kent and Hampshire volumes are scheduled for next year.
I know that many of you support my charity work for the Friends of Friendless Churches. It`s been an exciting year for us as the Culture Recovery Fund has helped us carry out over £1m of repairs to our churches which as a tiny charity we would otherwise have had to prioritise over at least ten years. Do please visit our churches. www.friendsoffriendlesschurches.org.uk . With those repairs out of the way we have been able to take some more churches into care, including South Runcton in Norfolk very close to me where I will be the local contact in addition to the same role at Fordham church. I also look after three Norfolk churches on behalf of the Norfolk Churches Trust - West Bilney, West Rudham and Lynford Catholic Church.
Thank you for your continued interest in my work. I hope to see you very soon. John