St James, Nunburnholme

15 September 2006

View of St James's church, Nunburnholme Nunburnholme church – detail from exterior wall

There have been many churches I’ve "visited" without going inside. There are many reasons for this – because of dashing past, and stopping only briefly for a look on the way to somewhere else; because the church door is locked; because sometimes the exterior view is enough, at that time. In this case, the exterior was interesting enough for me to feel that I’d properly visited this church. My favourite detail was this strange little face in one of the walls. I’ve no explanation. I’m beginning to realise that there are many odd little details on our oldest churches that reflect their long and eventful history, and that explaining them in terms of dates doesn’t always aid appreciation.

St James, Nunburnholme, porch and tower Window detail, St James

So I’ve put away my Pevsner guide, and all I want to say is that I visited this church, on the edge of its village, on a sunny September morning, and no one else was around, and the walls and windows and doors of the church reflected changes during the course of its history.

Outside, in the churchyard, headstones covered in lichen, but also headstones leaning against the wall of the church, some of which were made of iron.

Detail – iron headstone Headstones against church wall, Nunburnholme

St James, Nunburnholme – porch

Someone cared enough to stand the broken headstones up against the wall of the church, rather than leaving them where they fell, and someone cared enough to put arrangements of flowers on the windowsill in the porch.

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