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Michael Palin and his love of visiting churches

05 June 2015

Mistaken identity: this is St Mary's, Linton, in Herefordshire

Mistaken identity: this is St Mary's, Linton, in Herefordshire

From the Revd Martin Jewitt

Sir, - Michael Palin will no doubt be representing millions of (perhaps older) people in his appreciation of "havens, shelters, places of protection, places that it doesn't cost a penny to enter, and which won't cost you a penny to stay all day" (Features, 22 May). And we can rejoice in such beautiful architectural heritage, without which our islands would be the poorer.

But how many of those millions would be prepared to contribute realistically to the real cost? How many church councils find themselves crippled by maintenance costs? Which parish hasn't at some time experienced the trauma of sudden, and costly, outbreaks of dry rot? Or, like our local church, a spate of vandalism which will cost thousands to put right? These experiences can turn a church building into the opposite of the peaceful retreat that Mr Palin so vividly describes.

There will always be a measure of unreality in the experience of the peace of a parish church outside service times, unless the real reason for that peace is acknowledged: that this building stands as a sign of God present in that community, making himself known through the gospel that is proclaimed in that building and beyond. A building without God will become dry bones.


12 Abbott Road, Folkestone
Kent CT20 1NG


From the Revd Neil Patterson

Sir, - I was pleased to read the thoughtful reflections of Michael Palin on churches, as his great-grandfather Edward Palin was my predecessor. It was unfortunate, therefore, that the zeal of your picture editors outran their accuracy, captioning pictures of two different churches as St Mary's, Linton, neither of which was the one where Edward Palin served (there is another St Mary's, Linton, in Ely diocese).

Readers may be pleased to hear that Michael Palin continues to support his great-grandfather's parish, and we have been looking forward to welcoming him for a sell-out fund-raising talk in the church, and to hearing about his family in the parish.


The Rectory
Ross-on-Wye HR9 7QA

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