|Saint Mary the Blessed Virgin Church, Eastham Village, England|
One day during our time in Manchester, England we took a train to the nearby town of Chester. From there we took a local connecting train to the village of Eastham. We were in search of a church with a memorial plaque and family grave for ancestor's of Lori's brother-in-law, Randy. In typical English fashion, the very moment we found the church it started pouring down rain. Luckily, an arch at the entrance of the church's pathway through their ancient cemetery provided us cover.
Saint Mary's the Blessed Virgin in Eastham Village is a splendid little church with a great deal of history: parts of the church's stone construction date to the 12th century, and it replaced a "mud and dauble" Saxon church that had stood for centuries before that. The baptismal font, in fact, recycles a Roman column, so the Saxon church possibly stood on the site of a Roman temple.
Other than the fact that the church was a welcome change of pace from the massive churches we typically seek out in our travels, we found the church's cemetery fascinating. Often we've practically itched to walk around in a cemetery while traveling, but seldom have we had the chance to do so. Among the markers of Saint Mary's we found that of Randy's ancestor and others dating to the 1600's.
By contrast, that afternoon when we returned to Chester we toured the (comparatively) gargantuan Chester Cathedral. This gothic structure is actually younger than the small church in Eastham Village, but as it's in the "big city" (versus Eastham) it gets considerably more attention. We took their "Cathedral at Heights" tour, a wonderful guided excursion up the main tower of the cathedral with stops in the bell tower along the way. The views were indeed spectacular, but the best aspect of the Chester Cathedral was its splendid cloisters.
Chester, England, by the way, is billed as "the most English of English villages". We only spent a few hours there, but it's definitely on our to-return-to list. Stay tuned for more blogs and pictures from Chester.