Saturday, April 23, 2011

St.Peter on the Wall 2

Yesterday we went to St.Peter on the Wall Chapel and as I have already written about it here, there is not much to add, except.............. well for a start we went on Good Friday, that most holy of days if you are a catholic (and I'm not, agnosticism is more my line), but it is the atmospheric austere Celtic chapel which pulls you back into spiritual contemplation. Historically it  probably represents an early tumultuous religious time, the time when the Roman church won the battle over the  British Celtic church and the Pelagius Heresy, a split that had profound implications in the underwriting of religion in this country.  But again this is not why we should feel awe at this modest church, it also lies on the line of the Roman forts that traversed this part of the coast, it is built from Roman materials of the old redundant fort of Othona. Again a milestone in history, when Britain was devastated by the Romans and their legions slaughtered the natives till they gave way to subjection and slavery.  Rome may have encapsulated  a great empire, but like all empires, it sought only gain and economic wealth, and Britain was ripe for the picking.

The three stones that are shown on the altar, come from the North, two of the stones come from the  Lindisfarne and Iona islands, both islands ravaged by the savage raids of the Vikings. To be a monk a this time was to court sainthood by horrendous barbaric death.

There was nothing gentle and calm in these ages, only blood and death and when you look at the high windows  of the church, you must remember that it is a defensive building as well as a place of spiritual contemplation. Also like Britain the building has suffered many changes, for centuries it was used as a barn, and you can still see the outline of the great arched doorways that would have been needed to bring in the wagons and their horses.

But now the land around is peaceful, flat is the word that comes to mind, a place where the sea tips over the edge of the world into a vast space below.  The Dengie marshes that is the watery barrier between land and sea, have the pale colours of grey and brown, this palette enlivened by the sea-green colour of plants.  Water squelches under foot should you walk into it, salty to the tongue, this is a place of mournful birds, I would say the peewit, but don't know its cry! 

To the right, below the great bank that protects the land from the sea, is a little wooden cottage, set high on a grassy knoll, it must belong to the Othona Community that lies behind the wooded copse to the north of the church.
Spiritual contemplation is what we go for today, for it welcomes all from any denominations and non-believers too, the myth of Jesus on the cross is there to see, but also this is a place you can ask many questions as to why religion sits  uneasily in so many souls. For me it is nature that holds the sacred key, oblivious to our need to make war and cultivate the soil, it goes on season after season, creating beauty without even questioning the nature of beauty.  The strong force of nature bringing forth new life, the male blackbird in the garden tamed by the need for food for his young to beg; the plants reaching out to the sun;  the pale green of new leaf on old trees; the little lane its hedge bank toppling over with the creamy foam of cow parsley underscored by the white starwort.  Bluebells are showing in the woods, their translucence difficult to define, perhaps it is the play of shadow and sunlight. Spring has no equal for a short while.

Bradwell on Sea village, one mile from the St.Peter's church, and about two miles from the decommissioned nuclear plant!

Part of the estuary, Oyster Spit I think; bungalows and boats are the main things to be found here


  1. I love St Peter on the wall. My father took us all there when we were all very small. My family used to have our picnic there and then walk along the sea wall. It is so peaceful. I remember a hous out there being called 'New Clear View'
    A play with words that put a smile on my face.

    Oh and please drop by mine so I can pass on an award to you.

  2. Thank you for the award Jarmara' I'll tuck it away somewhere. It is an extraordinary place, we also picnicked by the marsh. Not sure I would like to live there, if the sea levels rose, it would wash inland for miles.