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.


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.