The death of the rural church is often predicted. However, the churches have faithful congregations, and the church buildings are better kept now than they have been since they were built. The churches are well used. In many of the villages round here the majority of the community will attend the church at some point in any year, whether it is for Sunday worship, a baptism, wedding or a funeral, or else for one of the special events of the year – Remembrance, Carol Services and so on.
This morning I went to Fonthill Bishop for Book of Common Prayer Communion at 8.00am. (Followed by coffee toast and strawberry jam in the churchwarden’s kitchen). Then on to Hindon for Communion. An excellent choir sang Tallis’s If ye love me. More coffee, with chocolate biscuits this time. Things were going well.
After this up the hill, down the hill, up the hill and through the tunnel and down and up, and arrive at Fonthill Gifford of BCP matins. The churchwarden had retired after 29 years. Afterwards a glass to celebrate with the parishioners. Quickly then back down and up and through the tunnel to Hindon for lunch in the Parish Hall: cottage pie and apple crumble (with cream).
I left home at 6.30am. Fortunately the forecast fog had not appeared. The roads were quiet. The sun came with a glorious fragile dawn light as it pushed over the summit of the downs before Hindon.
Later, Sarah having joined me at Fonthill Gifford, she took my pannier and my Bishop’s staff home. I cycled up and down a series on single track roads to Monkton Deverill and then along the valley before climbing past Longbridge Deverill to Warminster. Another 30 miles.
Now to work out my best route to Bulford for tomorrow evening. The Salisbury Plain road is fast and dangerous in the dark so I think I shall catch the train and then cycle out on the road bike along the bike route though the Woodford Valley to Amesbury and from there to Bulford. It’s only 12 miles each way by this route rather than 21 from home. That way too, I should be able to be back to catch the 20.57 from Salisbury Station.