Bright Floodplain Lights 2. The Locked Church
You get to High Bonnybridge by going south uphill along the Broomhill Road, past the primary school and the chapel I attended when I was young, the wood enclosed field where the villages only murder occurred and underneath the railway bridge. Nothing could be a better marker; the shift is obvious and instant, one has clearly left one sort of place and entered another sort.
If you follow the road and turn tight along Church St you’ll find the eponymous church; the door locked and the yard in poor condition but maintained to some degree, the grass is short and the bushes aren’t overgrown. Though the building is very old and it’s been locked for years it’s remarkable how clean and free of vandalism it seems, especially around the main entrance where the portico has a coat of clean sky-blue paint. It is more remarkable given the areas reputation and the tendencies of bored teenagers; ample evidence of whom can be seen everywhere else you look.
Despite having come to school only a hundred yards down the road I only discovered the church when I was 25 years old when I was on my way to visit nearby Roman ruins, another site I had never been to. It is an altogether uncanny place; the effect of seeming forgotten but maintained, exposed and unguarded but ignored make it seem mysterious. And indeed it is mysterious; I have looked but can find no more information about it nor did I hear one mention of it in twenty years of living nearby.
The disused church is an increasingly common sight, sadly in my opinion, every one that remains as it was without suffering the great cultural and spiritual depravities of modern architects and their sawdust brains, tin eyes and chipboard souls converting them into flats is a precious thing. To find one that has been locked up, looked after but not sold off is a picket against a long defeat and hope of final victory written in its stones when it was built. Holding the promise that it will be opened again like the graves on the last day.