Little Known Tourist Sights of the United Kingdom, Posted from the UK

A Walk at St. Peter’s Church, Yaxley

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It’s funny how most inhabitants of any area, be it a large, cosmopolitan city or a small, rural community never seem to appreciate what’s under their very noses. I am guilty of that twice over. First, as a native New Yorker (never been to Statue of Liberty) and now again as a long-term resident of the United Kingdom (never seen Big Ben). I simply took it for granted that one day when I wasn’t so busy I would be able to go see and do the things I’d always wanted to do. I’ve finally realised that day was never going to happen on its own. I had to make it happen.

With three children to think of, it’s not easy to just jump on a plane, train or automobile on a whim. But that doesn’t mean I have to give up travel altogether. I just need to keep closer to home. Since the hub of any small community is its church, I decided to research it and see what I came up with. I googled St. Peter’s Church, Yaxley and came across a website with some really good photos of the church. I was intrigued with what I saw and grabbing my camera and daughter, Sleeper Girl, went to see the church with new eyes.

First mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086, St. Peter’s church has seen much history in its day. Musket shot marks on west wall of the church suggest a battle may have taken place on or near the church grounds. Some say these “offerings” were left by Oliver Cromwell’s troops after a visit around 1643.

Walking around the church grounds, I found myself admiring various styles of architecture used to build the church over the centuries. Up till now I thought gargoyles were only found at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. But upon closer inspection I could see small gargoyles at the four corners at the base of the spire and at the entrance of one of the lower extensions. Erosion isn’t as bad as you’d think considering they’ve withstood the elements and vandalism for centuries.

Many of the headstones in the cemetery are barely legible. Those that my daughter and I could read showed the short life spans that was the norm of a bygone era. A few had familiar-sounding family names and Sleeper Girl and I wondered if they still had descendants who lived in Yaxley. We wandered around the silent churchyard awhile longer. It was a hot, humid summer’s afternoon and you knew a summer storm was coming. The sky was becoming overcast and the church grounds became even more still and silent, if that was possible. Suddenly the church bell rang out causing me to utter a most irreverent explicative and attempt to leap into my daughter’s arms. Six o’clock already? Time to head home and get dinner on the table.

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Posted in: Yaxley, Peterborough, UK

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