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This report is taken from PN Review 226, Volume 42 Number 2, November - December 2015.

A Pilgrimage to Little Gidding M.C. Caseley
Driving to Great Gidding, there are no warning signs of late Aprille shoures, although May has been a bit unsettled. Recently, the swete breeth of Zephirus has been all too evident, but now, at the end of the month, the lanes are still and brim with may-flower, easing the garish shock of yellow blocked fields of rape. Great Gidding, on the Northants/Cambridgeshire border, is a pleasant, well-kept village, but I’m passing through, down Mill Lane, towards its tiny sibling, Little Gidding, a place that looms large in the history of poetry.

A single-track lane by a postbox, potholed and narrow, leads down to the tiny chapel of Little Gidding. The retreat centre of Ferrar House next door is silent. At the car park, a handful of Anglicans wait cheerfully for lifts to the nearby church of St Mary’s at Leighton Bromswold, for today, Rowan Williams, poet and former Archbishop, leads a pilgrimage to the tomb of Nicholas Ferrar, friend of George Herbert, the man who ensured the survival and publication of his poetry.

Introductions over, we wait while the yellow rubbish collection lorry eases down the track, up-ending bins, then whining away as we drive the five miles to St Mary’s for the first station, a morning service of Holy Communion. Clouds scud over, but the day looks fine and sunny; the talk in the car is of church commissioners, redundant churches, local history and experiences on ‘the bench’; this is rural, timeless Anglicanism, I realise. The plan for the day is to walk the five miles ...


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