Catharine Kroon, Legacy Pledger
Catharine Kroon, Shropshire - "What I enjoy most about churches is their art."
I have a very decent income and I live frugally. At the end of the financial year I donate what money I have left to the National Churches Trust.
I have also made provision for the National Churches Trust in my Will which makes me happy in the knowledge that churches will benefit for years to come.
What I like about the National Churches Trust is that it is a national institution, which supports churches throughout the land; and yet it has this strong personal touch, especially from Chief Executive Claire Walker. It is also very efficiently run, which gives one the impression that one’s money will be well and wisely spent.
Writing is what I do. During my 24 years as senior inspector for the Good Food Guide, I covered all of England, as their only roving inspector. My knowledge of the country is unsurpassed. I wouldn’t have survived all those super dinners, not to mention all those bottles of wine, if I hadn’t made a habit of going for a lengthy walk the next day.
I visit every church I come across
But mostly I have always loved walking because I am so entranced by the British landscape. This country has the most varied and beautiful landscape in the world; and on walks I visit every church I come across. What I enjoy most about churches is their art, and Simon Jenkins has described exactly what appeals to me:
‘England’s parish churches compose a museum of medieval art without equal. They are a dispersed gallery of architecture, carved stone and wood, sculpture, brass work, calligraphy, needlework, mural painting and stained glass. Gathered together in one place their contents would outrank any collection in Europe. Mercifully they are not so gathered. They offer the exhilaration of serendipity, the thrill of sudden discovery in unexpected places, usually the most beautiful in England.’
Gloucestershire is where I walk most. Three of the churches I discovered for myself on walks, that aren’t listed in any of the church guidebooks that I use, are:
St Peter and St Paul’s church, Broadwell (pictured above): This church is often surrounded by sheep in the neighbouring fields. It is mainly Norman c1150. It has carved wool bale tombs, including one with eight praying children.
St Eadburgha’s church, Ebrington: This church is mainly Perpendicular. It has a carved stone tomb with painted wooden effigy of John Fortescue Lord Chancellor. He has an enormous head and hands and is clad in a long full red robe with ermine tippet and hood.
St James’ church, Longborough (pictured right): A church with a 13th century tower with fantastic gargoyles. Inside there is a 14th century stone tomb with an effigy of a knight and a highly elaborate 17th century stone tomb with effigies of William Leigh and his wife, plus their three pre-deceased children, including a little girl with her head resting on a skull and a baby in swaddling clothes.
Art restoration work is of the highest importance to me, but I do also feel strongly that it’s vital to save churches from falling into disuse by, for example, installing toilets or kitchens so that they can again play an active part in the community.
I feel happy in the knowledge that the National Churches Trust addresses all these issues and more, and I am looking forward to visiting and supporting churches for many more years to come.