Ever since stumbling across St Mary’s Church on Pinterest, I have been eager to go on a little adventure to find it. There’s something about ruins and abandoned buildings that fascinates me. They offer a window into history that no restoration project can. I love to picture the movements of the people who frequented these ghost buildings. And although often coated in blankets of dust or crumbling under the constant barrage of the UK’s changeable weather, they feel unspoilt.
It’s been a long time since I simply packed up my rucksack, grabbed my camera and Pip, and went for a long walk. I printed a route from Walking World and, whilst Ben played football, headed to Winterton on Sea. Once I stopped following my sat nav and started using my head that is.
Winterton on Sea is a perfect little seaside village, unspoilt and sleepy. The walk took us through Winterton Dunes. The heather was beautiful but unfortunately for Pip, the sun beating down on us meant the adders were liable to be out sunbathing, so she was on her lead. I had my camera at the ready, but the adders weren’t cooperating. I should have let Pip go and sniff one out.
After a few miles of farmland, pheasant chasing and hundreds of dragon flies, we came across the woodlands where I knew the church was hidden. You could quite easily wander past the 15th century ruin, what with its walls overgrown with ivy. But if you take a wander inside you’re treated to the sight of a giant oak growing up from the floor, its canopy acting almost like a roof. I spent a good half an hour taking pictures and admiring the structure. Sadly it was a little dark. It would photograph perfectly in the early morning light.
Although this church is obviously incredibly old, it’s amazing how quickly buildings can fall into a state of disrepair. When I was a child I used to regularly visit a place called Penscynor Wildlife Park. It closed in 1998 and a few years ago I came across this post. Picturing others in a derelict building is rather different to remembering yourself in one. It’s very sad to see a place I spent much of my childhood, simply left to fall into ruin. At the same time, it’s fascinating to see the chimp key holder still on the wall. I feel much the same about my secondary school. It was pulled down and is now just a playing field. I only have my memories of the building that I essentially did all my growing up in.
If like me you have a fascination with the old and decrepit, Derelict Places will keep you occupied for hours. And for those in Norfolk, Forgotten Norfolk is a wonderful collection of local abandon.