Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Church of St Mary, Tivetshall St Mary

While up in East Anglia on Wednesday, I paid a return visit to Church of St Mary at Tivetshall St Mary, the inspiration for the ruined church at the beginning of 'Seven for the Devil'. The church is part of the twin parishes of Tivetshall St Mary and Tivetshall St Margaret, and was abandoned in favour of the latter in the 19th Century. It was brought back into use in the 20th Century, but then collapsed one day in 1949 when a jet broke the sound barrier nearby. The churchyard and grounds are well maintained, making even more enticing for architectural photography. Unfortunately, while the sun was shining when I arrived, the air was bitterly cold, so I stayed only as long as it took to get a small selection of photographs.

It's all rather splendid, externally...
St Marys Church 030413 (2) St Marys Church 030413 (6)

...and internally:
St Marys Church 030413 (13) St Marys Church 030413 (14)

Some of the smaller features are stunning too:
St Marys Church 030413 (16)

St Marys Church 030413 (17)

There's very little left of the tower:
St Marys Church 030413 (19)

And some of the inscriptions on the graves are fascinating (the chap on the right was buried with his third wife):
St Marys Church 030413 (24)

The church as reinterpreted in 'Seven for the Devil':

Gloomily, Michael kicked his way along the overgrown path as it wound around the back of the ruined Church of St. Peter. He reached the edge of the shade and stopped, gathering his thoughts. The sun shouldn’t be glinting off the five new granite headstones like that. He should have insisted on limestone. Or sandstone, to keep things local. Something that would weather and crumble, that would disintegrate almost as quickly in this climate as his band’s history would fade in the memories of the fans and the media now that he was the only one left.

He’d brought flowers, of course. A dark red rose for each of the guys, and a bunch of white carnations for Patricia; she’d hated roses. Such a cliché, she’d drawled in that bored off-stage voice that was nothing like her dulcet performance tones. Eight months and he could still remember every detail about each of them. The way they spoke, their favoured clothes for performing and for relaxing, the precise notes of the scents they wore.

At least he’d managed to get special dispensation for them to be buried here, the scene of their best-known video, rather than in the graveyard of the closest intact church, where services were held every Sunday for the twin villages of Totteringham St. Peter and Totteringham St. Paul. The graves there were tended by a gardener, and watched over by a sharp-eyed church warden for any offerings or grave goods that might offend the parishioners on grounds of taste or common decency. Here, Michael could place what he wanted in front of each headstone, knowing that his markers would still be there the next time he visited.

A plastic bat for Chris; a new plectrum for Terry; drumsticks for Nigel, who would throw his own into the crowd at the end of a gig; a copy of Playboy for Roger, still in its plastic wrapper; a black and purple half-corset for Patricia. Michael straightened each gift on its resting place. He uprooted the ever-encroaching weeds, and then placed the fresh flowers in the holders. He stuffed the old flowers into a paper bag, to be dropped off on the compost heap on his way out. They might have been a degenerate rock’n’roll band, but they’d always cared about nature in their own idiosyncratic way.

Michael straightened up, flexing the fingers on his right hand, wiggling each one in turn. Good as new, even after the long cycle ride from Diss. It was the first time he’d visited under his own power, and he’d worried the early morning damp might seep into his joints, setting back his progress.
Tags: a series of ordinary adventures, architectural heritage, out and about, photos, story extract, truth stranger than fiction
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