July 3rd, 2011


East Coker Pilgrimage: A Preliminary Report

Some of you may know that I have made many a resolution for this year, including some pretty bold. As can be expected, not all of them will have been fulfilled — my concept of "best effort" is actually not as daring as it should be. Nevertheless, one of my plans, drafted on November 17th, was recently completed. Exactly two weeks ago, on June 19th, I visited the village of East Coker, in South Somerset.

I am going to publish a detailed report later. For now, let me inform those interested that I followed the original plan pretty thoroughly, with only a few minor digressions:

  • I stayed in a flat that was very close to Blackwall DLR. Therefore, given all the morning haste, it made no sense to walk over to Canary Wharf Tube station.
  • Furthermore, there were some ongoing works on the DLR and the line between Shadwell and Poplar was totally closed, so I actually had to take the eastbound train to Camden Town and change to Jubilee there. Unsurprisingly for 7:30am on Sunday morning, I met no friends or colleagues.
  • Consequently, instead of a breakfast on Canary Wharf, I quickly grabbed a sandwich and coffee at the entrance to Waterloo Station.
  • I did not take the route from Yeovil Junction via Two Tower Lane. Instead, I walked over Rexes Hollow Lane and then, after crossing Dorchester Road near The Red House pub, over Pavyotts Lane. Not only is this route shorter, but it also is much more scenic. Moreover, it allows to completely bypass the traffic-choken Yeovil and takes you instead through a lovely and picturesque village of Barwick, with another comely yet evocative country church — the 600 year old St. Mary Magdalene.
  • It seems to me that the St. Michael's Church, as well as its belfry, cannot actually be seen en route to East Coker. While it is located on the top of a hill overlooking the eastern part of the village, it is completely obscured by ancient trees from virtually every angle. It is conceivable that one can see the church from afar if positioned at the fringes of Stoford or at the banks of Yeo, yet I did not venture into those parts.
  • The church, when I came there, was completely empty, bar myself and the few other pilgrims. No candles could be obtained and I found neither tray, nor candlestick where I would be able to place one.
  • A cheap day return (which is called "off-peak" nowadays) is only marginally more expensive than a single ticket, so I would not have saved much by buying only the latter.