Mystery Church



Mystery church

This is a copy of a little water colour I bought years ago. It’s painted on card, and obviously amateur.I have the feeling that it might be early Victorian – something about those odd pinnacles on the tower, the shape of that woman’s shawl. I’m intrigued by what looks like a monkey puzzle tree on the left hand side of the picture….and the mountains in the background. There has been a signature on the bottom left corner, beginning with an A…but I can’t make out the rest of it.

Does anyone know where it is ? Has anyone got a photo of it ?



I’m lucky enough to live in York, one of the oldest cities in the country. It was founded by the Romans in 61AD and the ground plan of the inner city is still based on the two main roads of a Roman fortress. There are buildings of every era – medieval, Elizabethan, 18th Century, Victorian and modern. It straddles the river Ouse and is a place of narrow alleyways and open squares.

I’ve been writing a few poems about the place where I live and this is the first. The building in the picture is a medieval church, and I just wondered why it had been bricked up a couple of hundred years later…


No door, ajar, like a smile
to offer welcome.
No sloping shoulders
to lean on.
Just an archway ghosted
into the stone wall, blocked
with thin brick.

Time was
time flowed
over the step
stranding babies, strangers,
lost dogs and lovers.
Corpses went out on the ebb
with bottles, musty clothes,
and broken benches.

Now it’s nothing.
A memory of itself.
No crack in the brick
for life to seep through.
The hinted arch
a fossil rib of some
creature, ancient, vaunted.