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April 06, 2006

Rural tranquility

Between Northleach and Cheltenham lies a tiny hamlet called Yanworth. It is on the road to the site of a Roman Villa excavated and open to visitors so many barely pause as they pass through it. Many probably do not even see the little church hidden in the farmyard as one approaches the hamlet. Yanworth church has a "mass" grave tucked into the angle between the Chancel and the North transept or "aisle" as it is more properly designated. It holds the remains of six Cromwellian soldiers found dead and stripped of their arms nearby. No one has ever identified them and one almost gets the feeling no one had any desire to. They were simply buried here and their grave is surrounded by an iron fence installed in Victorian times.

The interior of the church at Yanworth.

The War Memorial in Yanworth itself and the lists of the hamlets menfolk who went to war in 1914 - 18 and again in 1939 - 45 tells a story of tragedy for this community. It lists so many names from so very few families that one can only guess at the impact it must have had on this part of the world as fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and cousins marched away never to return. Small wonder that the appeasement of the dictators who arose between the wars was so desperately pursued. Today Yanworth is a tiny cluster of houses strung on either side of the suingle track raod - and the little church sits among the farm buildings at its Eastern edge.

The little church dates from the 11th Century and is lovingly cared for by its congregation. It may be small and it may even be remote, but it is a little gem of rural religious architecture - and even more importantly is one of those places where the distance between heaven and earth is not great and one can find real tranquility and peace.

Posted by The Gray Monk at April 6, 2006 01:45 PM

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