Monday, August 06, 2007

Horsham... a pleasant Sussex town, and I'm writing this in the public library!

I was given a splendid send-off from St Joseph's, New Malden, yesterday, with a blessing from the parish priest with lots of holy water as Mass ended, and lots of people signing up to sponsor me, and a cheery family of cyclists to accompany me down the Kingston Road and wave me off as I headed south to the A3...

It was a glorious ride in good sunshine, and I stopped in Epsom, past the Spread Eagle where I remember going for lunch years ago with my mother and grandmother - it's now a smart clothes shop! - then past a bustling Sunday market with rather nice foods on sale, then the Assembly Rooms, doing a good trade in Sunday brunches...and so to St Joseph's church, where the last Mass of the morning was just finishing. Vast modern church - I've been here before to give talks at Family Days and Confirmation groups. I was HOT and the cloakroom was beautifully cool and air-conditioned! Into the church for the end of Mass - they had "Soul of my Saviour" at Communion which is one of my favourite hymns.... A friendly Polish priest who had just come from Africa, and was thanking the parish for its support of his work there...he greeted people as they emerged, and I got some one in the parish office to sign a piece of paper saying I'd been there (I'll put that on my Blog in due course just to prove it to you!) and then I was sitting down with the parish priest and gulping lots of water and chatting...duly refreshed I set off again, and the next stretch of the journey became steadily more rural, green fields and cool shady woods. I got away from main roads as much as I could, cycled through Leatherhead (still a pretty town, and largely unspoiled by slabs of concrete) and off towards Mickleham.

It got extremely hot as the afternoon began, so I turned off at Westhumble, remembering a little ruined chapel there which I thought might be worth visiting. I rested agreeably in the shade next to a dear little St Michael's Church ("Prayer Book services: 8am Communion first Sunday of the Month. Prayer Book Mattins 11 am Third Sunday in the month"). Some hikers went by asking for directions and on looking at their guide-book I realised that the ruined chapel was the predecessor of this small church, so cycled off and found it. Wrecked by Henry V11, just one main wall and some stumps still standing, in a cool green lush corner. I scrambled over a wall and knelt and would be simply lovely to have Mass here...could easily be arranged, the place belongs to the National Trust, you could put a table up against the wall and just have Mass on it, where the altar presumably stood 400 years ago...the chapel was dedicated to St Michael - is this the origin of Mickleham??

Off again and it was very hot on the final lap. Stopped in Dorking, freshened up and ate a late-lunch snack, then took off again.

Wonderful to arrive in the afternoon slanting afternoon sunshine at the lovely home of the L. family: cool drinks, a wonderful shower and change of clothes, everyone being very nice to me...and then people (including my Jamie, bringing some things I'd forgotten!!) arriving for a dinner-party...delicious food, lively conversation, parish priest Fr Dominic writing out a splndid Formal Announcement of my arrival on headed and chocolates afterwards, then a blissful sleep in a cool bedroom overlooking the lovely garden...

This morning I was awoken with promises of bacon-and eggs, and after this excellent breakfast I was off on the road again, through Capel - very pretty - and down green lane and along some slightly scary main roads...brief stop at the Catholic Church in Horsham and now I'm off to West Grinstead...


Anonymous said...

How write in a lovely style..really enjoyable.

(Whatever you do don't hit my blog with my favourite pop songs!)

My lot would have loved the sun for their cycle ride to Walsingham..they were drenched through& through..i expect you would have preferred the rain!

Anonymous said...

Michael is from the Hebrew "Mi Ci El" or "who is like God?". Mickleham sounds like it is from michel - Anglo Saxon large, and ham, or farm, hence "the big farm". So it is unlikely that your words are related.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joanna

It was a great joy to meet up with you on your pilgrimage to Brighton by bike as the parish too journeyed to Our Lady of Consolation West Grinstead.

The young people of the Kingston Deanery greatly value your help in making their dream of attending World Youth Day a reality (as do the rest of us). Thank God for your efforts.

Some photos will follow by email

Deacon John

Anonymous said...

Keep going! Today must have been rather cooler for you. God bless.


Archbishop Cranmer said...

'...wrecked by Henry VIII'.

His Grace likes that. There was, of course, an explanation, but history can sometimes be inconvenient to recount.

His Grace would just like to inform you that your blog has been proposed for inclusion in Cranmer's 'Top 10 UK Religious Blogs', in the 2007 Guide to UK Blogging, to be published later this year.

He shall therefore be reading a little more attentively, though he is immeasurably fond of you, despite the theological differences, and despite the assertions of His Holiness that His Grace's beloved Church of England is 'not a church at all'.