The lonely marsh
My parish is the lonely marsh,
My service at the water’s edge;
Wailing of sea-birds, sweet and harsh,
The susurration of the sedge.
Bleating of a hundred sheep,
Where pilgrims and crusaders sleep.
Poem by Joan Warburg
(susurration is whispering or rustling – I didn’t know this word, but it is great onomatopoeia)
We went in search of one of the Mediaeval Churches of Romney Marsh, of which there are quite a few.
Fairfield St Thomas Becket Church stands alone, on an artificial mound, in the middle of a field. It is surrounded by water (see first extra) and can get stranded in times of floods. Until the 1960s, when a more modern drainage system was built, it could often only be reached by boat. Even now, one has to walk along a causeway and cross several bridges to get to it.
It was built in the 12th century as a timber-framed building, with walls of wattle and daub, but over the centuries has been the subject of extensive rebuilding work. Inside, the 15th timber frame can be seen, but the astonishing furnishings of white-painted box pews and triple decker pulpit are 18th century (see second extra)
Before this we wandered a charming Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve at New Romney. This also acts as Romney Marsh Visitor Centre and it was a very helpful lady there who gave us directions to the church. If she had not told us to turn right at a sign for ‘Jo’s Café’ I don’t think we would ever have found it!