Tuesday, 25 December 2012
Christmas morning in the fenland city

I am reposting this from 2008 as it is a favourite. It is an excerpt from an author whose work is not very well known these days, although JK Rowling is an admirer. Elizabeth Goudge was the daughter of a Church of England clergyman and several of her books are set in the Cathedral towns where she grew up. This one, the Dean’s Watch, is one of her last books, and according to her autobiography was one of her favourites. I believe it to be one of her best. It is set in a town in the fens, mostly based on Ely (where I took the photogrgaphs - but i summer - not at Christmas) but with elements of Lincoln and Wells as well, and tells of the development of the unlikely friendship between the formidable Adam Ayscough the Dean and Isaac Peabody the clockmaker. This is Christmas morning in the fenland city. 

All over the city men and women and children poured out of the chapels and churches exclaiming at the beauty of the day. . .The stretch of the snow-covered fen almost took their breath away, it was so beautiful under the blue arc of the sky. It was like the sea when it turns to silver under the dazzle of the sun. When they turned and looked up at the Cathedral its snow-covered towers seemed to rise to an immeasurable height. Then a wonderful fragrance assailed their nostrils. In steam-filled kitchens the windows had been opened now that the day was warming up. The turkeys and baked potatoes and plum puddings were also warming up and in another forty minutes would have reached the peak of their perfection. Abruptly Christmas day swung over like a tossed coin. The silver and blue of bells and hymns and angels went down with a bang and was replaced by the red and gold of flaming plum puddings and candled trees. Everyone hurried home as quickly as they could.

Posted on 12/25/2012 6:45 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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