…St Lawrence on the Hill finally yields to our belated scrutiny after two unsuccessful attempts at entry and proves something of an enigma. On the one hand it is an old church on an ancient site and the energies of the place must still be operating as of old because the Red Kites, as we know only to well, are simply all over the place, and yet the interior of the church, on first glance at least, bears absolutely no resemblance to a church at all. It looks more like an eighteenth century drawing room replete with ornate gildings and renaissance and baroque type works of art.
My mind presents the images of Dashwood attached to one of the tunnel entrances in the caves directly below; the dandified libertine raising his glass of wine and the pious candle holding monk in his habit…
The living room of the nave is the epitome of those two images for on closer inspection all the trappings of the church are indeed there including a rather splendid Bishop’s Chair which Wen and I cannot help laughing over and an incredibly well fashioned font in the form of a serpent twining its inevitable ascent around a pole. The place is also liberally festooned with doves and these are not discreet doves either like in some of the St John the Baptist churches… they are full on, in your face representations and really quite endearing.
I have to wonder about Dashwood, his reputation is appalling and yet, his use of symbolism is rather refined…
…We do not spend as much time in St Lawrence’s as we would have liked and undoubtedly would have done had the place not been teeming with other folk but as those people entrusted with its care have decided to only open it to the public on one day of the week inevitably the public will be present in large numbers on that day. Now, I have nothing at all against folk per se it is just that a silent communion with the spirit of a place is not really possible with hordes of people milling about, however, I have seen enough of the churches ‘decoration’ to suggest that Dashwood is worth keeping an eye on. At this point he does not appear to be directly connected to our investigations but he is not all together unconnected either. I remember from my research that St Lawrence was regarded as a ‘Saint of Jester’s’ largely because of his comment on the grid-iron about being turned to give an even roasting. And that, if you recall, is the grid-iron that he probably never actually lay on anyway. It is hard not to smile when observing his depictions with cumbersome grid-iron to hand. Once again legend and life seem to have become inextricably meshed and the ‘Jester’s saint’ as dedicate of Dashwood, the pious libertine’s church could not be more apt…
Quest for a Quest: The Initiate’s Story
17-19 April 2020
A Living Lore Workshop.
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