Diary of a Curious House Guest

Well Christmas has zoomed past in a flash of parties, carol singing, pantomimes and the like. We did two main services very child orientated, one a full crib blessing service with candles, processions and children’s orchestra at Little St Mary’s in Cambridge. It is a very beautiful and memorable service. Some old gent, a visitor from Holland, in the row in front of us sat crying his eyes out for the whole event. The second was a carol concert in St Francis’ Church in Littleton, the estate church for Loseley Park, built as a school in the 1840s, where we sang carols and were visited in the church by sheep and donkeys before walking in the dark to sing carols in a farmyard. I was asked to read the lesson at the last moment, as the local squire was called away, not something I have done for while. My father and his wife are mulled wine monitors which they do rather well, and the guiding spirit is the local shepherd Chloe Dancey who said: “This service is just right and simple, how things should be in the country”.

Back to work this week, and a visit to a vast Jacobean country house undergoing a major restoration, my article will appear in early February. It was a huge old pile, but in the major rooms evidence of brilliant repair work that warms the heart. Which was fortunate as it was bitterly cold. Standing on the roof, looking at the 17th century timbers, my hands too cold to write, I did briefly think; this is heaven.

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