It was a beautiful day when Fiona, my hotel critic friend, and I set off to see the medieval churches of Romney Marsh. She was sandwiching her night in Baa between a visit to Church House, a chic B&B in Midhurst, and a visit to The George in Rye. We planned dinner as we gasped at the crystal clear views across the Sussex Downs over cow parsley hedgerows – you do get marvellous views from high up in Baa's cab. We were headed first for St Thomas a Becket at Fairfield and stopped for lunch at Jo's excellent and spotless Cafe in an ex RAF camp off a bend in the road north of Rye. We asked for directions to the church. “What, that one?” she pointed across the way to 'The Cup of Hope and Truth Foundation Spiritual Church', “They're a funny lot.” (Another hut sold french brocante, and Jo's hut used to be a Philippine Craft Centre.) No, not that one, the one on the marsh. It was just a little further up the lane.
|St Thomas a Becket Church, Fairfield|
Once you're on the road Fairfield church is unmissable, sitting alone out in the marsh with sheep grazing all around it - it's approach makes it so magical. On to St Augustine at Brookland with its bell tower built next to the church, and then we had a ride on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. It's an adorable miniature steam train and for that reason I am glad we did it, but Fiona's glowing memories of Dymchurch, of cottagey guest houses and sweet shops, soon faded. It's all chippies and amusement arcades (we had the wrong coins for every single machine) – probably better in the summer months.
We saw St Georges Church at Ivychurch and nearby St Mary in the Marsh (where E Nesbit is buried) before heading for Old Romney. These churches tell such tales of life in this fascinating region over the centuries. It is still hard to fathom quite why there are so many marsh churches (13) but they were central to a much larger community than exists here today - and there were many rich wool barons.
We said goodnight and set off to prepare our ratatouille and Romney lamb with a Rye crab starter, certainly the most ambitious dinner yet attempted with Baa's neat, but very small kitchen facility. It was excellent and we slept like tops. If we'd woken earlier we'd probably have seen Chris going off naked for an early morning run. Shame!
|One comfortable, happy camper!|