Monday 5 May 2014

Missing Village Intervention - St Peters, Wolfhampcote

Inspired by the Songs For Quiet Steps project for Back To Books I have been making creative responses to the churches chosen as walking / cycling/ visiting destinations. I made the responses to St Peters, Wolfhampcote without having visited, instead I based my interventions on what other walkers / visitors had told me. 

There is very full and thorough information about the village and why it's missing here with links to other useful sites. Part of its appeal lies in the way road, rail and canal have played and still play a part in its history. I did not realise until now that there is a connection to Barton Seagrave, close to my home. As we met back at the churchyard after returning the key we met this striking young woman on her bike. She lives in Braunston but came originally form Kettering, another curious unplanned connection. 

In a way this intervention is full of those same curious unplanned connections and allowing my instincts and imagination to guide me. I knew about the rail, road, canal situation and I was intrigued by the idea of the church remaining after the village itself had disappeared. Under the earth there are floor plans, rubble, artifacts, evidence of human life.

To quote James Thompson in his A Brief History "These form part of the well known deserted medieval village site, but do not be misled into assuming that all the mounds which can be seen are the result of the destruction of the village some time late in the 14th century. Some are disused canal workings, dating from the earlier part of the last century, and made when Braunston was an important focal point for water-borne traffic"

Above the ground sheep graze, people walk their dogs, someone mows a lawn, tends pigs and a vintage car rally passes through. A blackbird sits on a fence post and treats us to a magnificent burst of song.

Artifacts for the Intervention:-

Artifact (archaeology), an object formed by humans, particularly one of interest to archaeologists
  • I wanted some ghost house structures so my Dad made me two almost portable towers / buildings with ledges to hold other artefacts. Once inside the church I was delighted to see how well these towers reflected the ceiling beams as well as referencing the missing village.
  • As I am trying to re-purpose things the towers were to hold two mosaics one made by me, one made by Andrew Rushton during a workshop by Emma Biggs. The panels are made from pottery shards as well as more conventional materials and both have elements of trees, travel, bridge, railway in them, so they had a satisfying connection to both the domestic and industrial histories that are woven through this location.
  • I had found a box of toy Crusaders in a Charity Shop and somehow felt sure that over it's long history this site would have soldiers of some kind present. I had also heard from one visitor that the atmosphere in the church on her visit had been chilling, unnerving and had left her with a very bad feeling. I thought I might need a little symbolic protection just in case. 
  • Because of this report I had imagined a very dark interior so I took some large glass pebbles to give reflection and a sense of water, but on the day we visited the church was flooded with light.

I didn't know how large the space would be or what the interior space was like, turning the key in the lock and letting myself into the unknown was part of the intervention. I stayed and interacted with the space for an hour and left the church as I had found it when I left. In a way this activity was like making and recording three dimensional sketches. You can see the full set of images here and other images of the area here

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