So we went to Exmoor and I took my copy of the Victorian romance Lorna Doone, which I mentioned before. It is essential reading for the Exmoor coast – most of the time I was only a few miles away from the characters. I had been informed I should visit the church at Oare as it is important in the book (although at the time I had no idea why – it isn’t important until something like page six-hundred and I was on one-hundred-and-fifty.)
The quality of the light in this little church is so lovely – soft and dusty and bringing in with it the green of the valley outside. The vase of yellow flowers sings with colour and the dark timbers make beautiful patterns against the cool white walls.
A few details below: an 18th century painted crest above the church door, the barrel roof of its 15th century inner chancel, and the mossy tangled woods characteristic of Exmoor.
I also want to mention the frequent pretty turns of phrase of Lorna Doone. For example, the narrator John Ridd, who has a catching love of the landscape, tells us that at the end of winter “snow lay here and there, in patches in the hollows of the banks, like a lady’s gloves forgotten”. Which is so evocative and charming. And when he meets Lorna, his love, he says that “she touched my heart with a sudden delight, like a cowslip blossom (although there were none to be seen yet) and the sweetest flowers of spring”.