Friday, 19 August 2011

Paradoxical Loneliness: The Ruins of St. Andrew, Whitlingham

The ruins of the medieval church of St Andrew, at Whitlingham, close to Norwich. Located on the top of a ridge overlooking the Yare, most of the church has collapsed over the years (such as the round tower, in 1940), or has been pulled down for building materials.

Despite the fact that the church has not been in use since the Reformation, some features remaining are Victorian: sites such as The Norfolk Churches Site ( http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/whitlingham/whitlingham.htm )suggest that for many years the church was preserved for aesthetic considerations. Little concern now: nowadays, the A47 noisily screams past only a few yards away.

In obvious ways, this has dragged the site away from its picturesque beginnings and towards something far more grey and ugly. The easiest way to approach the church, for instance, is on an old cracked access road for workers used during the A47's construction. Yet it does provide the ruins with a new, stranger atmosphere. It is difficult to actually make out the A47 or its traffic through the roadside trees, and the incessant sounds of passing traffic provides visitors with the feeling of seperation, of invisibility in the face of the mundane and the harsh. The fact that there is no official access to the site (visiting involves clambering over fencing and tramping through nettles), and it is situated at the 'wrong end' of Whitlingham Lane (all traffic for the ski-slopes and the Broad stops much farther up), maintains this place's paradoxical feeling of isolation and loneliness.
















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