Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Documents and Devotions

Driving down to the record office in Dorchester afforded me one new experience: having to pay for my parking space by phone as I forgot to bring any change. 'Download the app', the voice told me. Not on my phone, which still has a black-and-white licence. I was there to cross-check some well references against the Tithe Maps where they were supposed to appear (though curiously, as it turned out, not all did).  The Dorset History Centre now has most of the county's tithe maps copied and freely available, so I was able to whack through the whole process very swiftly and only had to call up one actual document. I now have a slew of 'new' wells to visit when I come actually to begin that process, such as Paddicks Well at Allington and Orchard Well at Bishop's Caundle, probably none of them very spectacular sites but important to check out.

From there I zoomed to Abbotsbury. My last visit in the summer found the village swaddled in mist but yesterday was beautiful with chilly sunshine, filtered through high, filmy cloud. St Catherine's Chapel is now free of its transitory pigeon residents and their attendant aroma, and, true to its word, English Heritage has repaired the west window which makes the building so much lighter and happier. Far from me being the only person who now leaves prayers there, I found two 'votive deposits' in the niches, mostly candles and tealights but one with the unfamiliar accessory of a glass of white wine next to the photo of a loved one. There were a couple of little Christmassy arrangements on the window ledge, and a big lit candle. 

I wasn't sure I would have enough time to take in the chapel before heading back to Bournemouth for tea with my mum, and then home. But while at the record office I stopped for tea and thumbed through the latest edition of Somerset & Dorset Notes & Queries which just happened to contain a little article on wishing traditions associated with St Catherine, so that was Definitely A Sign. 

Wanting to be terribly helpful, I tidied up all the spent tealights and broken bits of candle from around the chapel into a paper bag, and sat and ate my sandwich. And then left the bag there. 

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