Inspired – a gift from a visitor

STC/242 Detail of the painted inscription on a prophet's scroll from the south transept reredos
STC/242 Detail of the painted inscription on a prophet’s scroll from the south transept reredos


Walled In


“Superstitious images”, a phrase

that plays well with men in control.

A need to stamp out the old ways

overrides all tenderness, all pity.

Masons who know stone’s mystery,

carving with patience and grace

compelled to deface what they love.

Relics of scorned belief are cut,

wrenched away to fall, fracture

piecemeal, to become fragments

piled high, the dead on the field of battle.


Like anchorites they are walled in,

forgotten as the centuries pass.

Found in a flurry of revivalism

to be thrust back into oblivion.

A diaspora banished, displaced.

Between equinox, solstice, earth turns,

the clocks spill, sift, tick on and on

until a time of atonement comes.


Resurrection, nesting in the white tissue

Each piece heals, in this place of safety.

Eyes of a saint fresh and clear

as if newly painted, watch us.

Folds of linen contoured precisely,

coils of hair, gilding bright threaded.

An embroidered neckline

linked to a baby’s outstretched hand.

And here between naked feet,

cloven hooves; a camel’s head

signal the Baptist in a hair robe.

We are stilled by this harmony.


Patricia Robson, October 2016


‘Dear St Cuthbert’s,

Thank you so much for the recent opportunity to visit your lovely church, especially at the time of the Heritage Weekend. We had a most inspirational introduction to “the story of the reredoses”, and then on Saturday a museum visit to see the fragments of sculpture.

It has prompted a poem which I offer as a thank you for a very memorable visit, a highlight of our holiday in Wells.

With best wishes

Patricia Robson’


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