Built in 1842 - its architect unknown to me as yet - this country church, probably no different from countless others, has little to distinguish it. Grey stone, green glass and an open door.
The open door, in these suspicious and thieving times is unusual - but most welcome. I knew, having studied the Commonplace Book, that a visit to Holy Trinity Church, Middleton would not be far behind. Today we stepped out of a storm-tossed blustery landscape into an equally chill interior. White peeling paint, two lines of pews, an altar stripped of all but a simple cloth. Cold to the heart of stone. One would have to love one's God, one's Church, one's fellow man, to worship here. But maybe faith should be above such worldly comforts as warmth.
I digress. This church does though have some unique features - some carvings - which do make it stand out amongst other similar buildings. It is these I have come to see - the work of the man who was vicar of this parish between 1876 and 1901. My hunch that he's somewhat eccentric is about to be confirmed.
Our man - the Reverend W. Brewster - carved pew, pillar and corbel with the stuff of magic and legend. The story of the Fairy Cow, who provided milk in time of local famine until milked dry by a malicious witch, is carved in soft red sandstone on one side of the church.
On the other side, signs of the zodiac run around the top of a pillar.
The Reverend Brewster's chisels were never still.
He set to and carved pew ends:
What was his source of inspiration? His congregation maybe? The farmers and mining folk he saw on parochial visits perhaps? The keen eyed will spot, amongst various grotesques, a Negro slave, a native American and a bow-tied hound. The saints and religious scenes a Victorian vicar might have been expected to portray are nowhere to be found.
Finally, we make a furtive visit to the old rectory garden where brambles and lethally thorned old roses snatch at our clothes. (OK, we were trespassing but curiosity can be a rewarding thing.)
Here we find the remains of the Reverend Brewster's Orchard, now home to nettle and rabbit and pheasant. How sad is this wilderness? Hand me my machete. I may be some time.