My Favourite Place - The Chapel of St Mary Tory
In Bradford on Avon there’s a small mediaeval chapel which pilgrims used as a stop-off on their way to Glastonbury. It’s up with the weavers’ cottages overlooking the town and the more famous Saxon church, and it’s a climb to get to it. Once there you have a view of the Vale of West Wiltshire – the canal, river and train tracks, and you can see the Westbury Horse on clear days.
Inside, there’s a wooden seat connected to a lectern which holds a heavy Bible, which includes the Apocrypha. You have to sidle into it. The first things I read there were King Solomon’s Proverbs – ‘if sinners entice you, consent thou not’ – and the book of Baruch. I was taken aback by its violence. Children had been led away in captivity, but in turn their parents would ‘tread on their enemy’s necks.’
It’s the best place in the world to read and think. There’s a bright, colourful stained-glass window, and one side of the chapel looks through high narrow windows onto a washing line, barbecue and garden, the property of the house next to the chapel. I’m amazed when I turn the latch and the chapel door actually opens. It’s always cold inside, and empty. The visitors’ book seems to commemorate people who have died, or visited from Canada.