Such a nostalgic trip back into English history are church fetes, they embody all that is good, kind and giving in people who are of the christian faith. So where did this fete take place? It was at Ingatestone in Essex, we had gone to look at the prehistoric stones , and the sight of stalls and a marquee in the church graveyard was a surprise. I bought a corn dolly from a man who was patiently weaving them in a corner, his wife sat at the front of the stall with baskets of them to sell. We sat in the marquee and drank tea and ate homemade cakes, one a little rice krispie chocolate cupcake that fell to pieces, a reminder of all those children's cakes I had baked in the past for parties. A gentle soul talked to us of circle dancing that evening and closing the marquee flaps. Up on the tower a man's head peered over as he let out a rope for a bucket mysteriously being pulled back and forth.
In the church great vases of flowers beautifully arranged, and local paintings on display for sale, the vicar happily walking amongst his flock, ordered a ploughman's lunch in the marquee. Genteel England in all its beautiful old English charm, slowly dying but never gone - for to lose this facet of our world would be like losing a great jewel of the past - a gentle muddle-headed way of past traditions enacted in a church, that once not so long ago, recorded our coming into the world, marriages for life and the final end as the dead were laid to rest in the earth. The small parochial way of life, community and certainty wrapped round the central hearth of the religious church - paganism still quietly lurking in the graveyard with a prehistoric stone that had never been removed.
an explanation about pagan corn dollies....