Thinking allowed

Little Gidding Pilgrimage 2020

Each year the Friends of Little Gidding, of which I am the Chair, organizes a Pilgrimage to Little Gidding. For the last few years this has taken the form of a walk from Leighton Bromswold to Little Gidding, with stops (or ‘stations’) for short reflections along the way. The day begins with a celebration of the Eucharist at Leighton Bromswold, and ends with Evensong at Little Gidding followed by Tea.

The events of 2020 made this format impossible, and instead we held an online event with a number of pre-recorded segments and some ‘live’ readings and prayers, as well as a little interaction between those taking part. Follow me as I walk from Leighton Bromswold to Little Gidding, introducing the various stopping points, and talking about the Ferrars’ experience of the devastating plague that hit London in 1625, and that forced them to leave the City and move to Little Gidding, while Fiona Brampton, Chaplain at Little Gidding, reflects on the impact of COVID-19 on us today.

Footage of me and video editing by Alexander Kershaw. Footage of Fiona filmed on my iPhone, and edited into the video by me, along with ‘live’ readings and prayers recorded via Zoom.

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Heraldic Glass at Little Gidding

Little Gidding is a place with which I have a long association. It gave its name to TS Eliot’s last great poem and before that in the early 17th century Nicholas Ferrar and his extended family lived there in a household of prayer and work. Eliot famously described the tiny church at Little Gidding as a place where prayer has been valid, and hundreds of visitors and pilgrims come each year to experience the beauty and holiness of this quiet and peaceful place. Karen and I first visited Little Gidding when we moved to the area in 1986 and I’ve been Chair of the Friends of Little Gidding for the last decade. Another of my long-term interests is heraldry, which first drew my attention as a child at the end of the 1960s, and I have belonged to the Heraldry Society since 1974.

These two long-term interests come together in the windows of Little Gidding Church, which display the heraldry of Nicholas Ferrar, King Charles I, John Williams Bishop of Lincoln, and William Hopkinson, the 19th century landlord who restored the church. In an article on the website of the Friends of Little Gidding I describe the four windows and also investigate the coat of arms granted to Nicholas Ferrar’s father, Nicholas senior, and how this differs from the arms depicted in the window.

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