Friday The Thirteenth

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Why would I go out to photograph a churchyard on such a dull day as was this one?

All will become clear later in the post.

Here are some of the gravestones in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Bransgore;

many ivy clad, like this one bearing an anchor chain,

or this already sporting its Christmas holly.

A few are upright,

some less so,

and others had given up the battle with gravity.

The stump of a fallen tree was in good company.

This roller hid round the back of the church.

As in most of our churches today, the front door was locked.

Fortunately for me, Jenny was working in the small office accessed by an open side door.

This very friendly person showed me into the church, currently set out for the various community activities offered, that can be found on https://bransgore.org.

She put on the lights so that I could photograph the stained glass, much of the original of which has been lost.

In particular, climbing on a chair to do so, Jenny was keen to show me the preserved panel from July 3rd, 1822, bearing the etched date in the bottom left hand corner. To the left of the bottom of the orange cross the name of R. Carter, glazier, Priory Glassworks can be discerned when the image is enlarged.

Wikipedia tells us that ‘the church of Saint Mary the Virgin was erected in 1822 as a chapel of ease.[10][11] The church is of brick with stone dressings,[11] with a tower and originally a spire.[12] However, the spire was removed in 1967. The early 16th-century font, which is said to have come from Christchurch, is octagonal, with a monogram J D, perhaps for “John Draper,” the last Prior of Christchurch Priory.[11] The ecclesiastical parish of Bransgore was formed in 1875 from parts of Christchurch and Sopley.[11][13] Henry William Wilberforce, son of William Wilberforce (known for his campaign against slavery), was once the vicar of Saint Mary’s church.’

When we visited MacPenny’s Garden Centre two days ago we were given this brochure:

We would always welcome an opportunity to try out a new curry restaurant. When the proprietor had the courage to open the venture on Friday 13th, this proved irresistible. Jenny explained that the church had the facilities and was there to help local activities.

The evening in the church hall was most convivial, and the food served by the Bartlett family quite superb. Jack was a splendid sommelier who assisted his sister Sophie with the waiting tasks.

From the moment of entry our nostrils were enticed by the authentic aromas emanating from the kitchen on full view of diners. Everything was cooked to order.

Dave’ s cooking was a marvel. We began with superb crisp popadoms with a variety of chutneys. The prawn puris that followed were as good as any we have ever tasted.

Majid, the manager of the Akash in Edgware Road that I regularly frequented for more than 35 years, would remove from the table any onion bhajis that his eyes told him were not up to scratch. He, and I, would have given Dave’s full marks, for their perfect crisp texture and exquisite taste.

My main course was prawn jalfrezi, and Jackie’s prawn bhuna. Both were succulent, and superbly flavoured. We shared delicate pilau rice and soft chapatis. Encouraged to bring our own bottles, we brought an Argentinian white wine that I can’t remember. Jack kept it in the fridge for us and kept our glasses replenished. That’s probably why I can’t remember what it was.

43 comments

  1. So, not the church itself, but the church hall becomes a marvelous Indian Restaurant for one night of the week? There is something quite superb in this whole thing – though I can’t quite get my thoughts clear enough to put into words yet. The graves, once so grand and carefully tended neglected now that all who knew and cared have also gone on. the church, once so new and carefully tended now locked and looking somewhat battered and time worn and neglected…….. and in place of what once was rises up a new community support activity that brings people and cultures together over food. You gotta love it!!

    1. A perfect summary, Pauline. When speaking to Jenny earlier, I spoke of the church adapting to the modern world. Re-reading your last point, I suppose this is today’s Communion. Jackie points out that in older times this is how churches were always used. (Christ and the moneylenders comes to mind).

  2. The Contented Crafter covered it all. I was wondering at the start what the connection between the cemetery, church, and Indian restaurant was. How interesting. So the restaurant is only open once a week, or does he have another location, too? I am salivating now, so I better get to preparing our dinner. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Many thanks, Merril. He doesn’t have another location. He rents the church space for the evening and the whole family come along to help. They do takeaways as well. Maybe that happens the rest of the time. I’ll find out next visit.

  3. For the past days, I kept wondering why I no longer see your post. when I looked it seems that I am not one of your followers. I don’t know what happened.

  4. Church cemeteries always emit such a mysterious atmosphere. Perfect posts for Friday 13th.
    Lovely Christmas holly with a grave stone and other photos, beautiful post as usual.

  5. Looks like somebody’s had a go at that stump of a fallen tree with a chain saw;, surely no one would cut the tree down, trim off the branches, and leave that stump.

    But then who knows what Aaron gets up to when he’s not working for Mr Knight

  6. Pauline spoke eloquently about your post and these images, Derrick.
    Glad you are there to photodocument the history

  7. Ditto to the comment above regarding your posts Derrick! At any particularly frustrating or desolate moment, please remember how much entertainment, enlightenment and energy you enervate our world with through your posts! Always so appreciated! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Derrick! I thought it was an abandoned church only to find out it goes into “outreach program manners” of inclusion of outsiders to the meals. The two colorful tall, narrow glass panels were mesmerizing. I love that you adapted to having company who enjoyed herself. ?

  9. Lovely photos of the churchyard. Reminds me of Southampton Old Cemetery which is also very much overgrown and has great photo opportunities.

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