After I left this quiet place
behind me, by a bus which only runs once every hour on Sundays (thus
supporting our countryside feeling) I passed by another church with a
small old churchyard and a larger extension in Keston village, which has
a connection with William Wilberforce, the famous abolitionist, who
visited his friend, Pitt the Younger in his nearby country house upon
several occasions. There is even a so-called Wilberforce Oak on Keston
Common in honour to him and to his commitment to end slavery.
Leaving Keston, the
last place of that day's visit is a nearby village and its church, Hayes
(not to be confused with the
one in North-west London, near Harlington and Heathrow).
churches claim that they have the oldest (or one of the oldest) yew
trees in the country. I think, as it is very hard to establish the exact
age of a yew tree, there is not one single winner of the “oldest yew
tree” competition. But it is for sure that the one in Totteridge
(mentioned in the previous article) must be in the first three.
church tower, and in fact the whole church from outside bears a
resemblance to the one seen in Downe.
the wall of the church, we can find two 18th century stones,
of which one is the gravestone of a nine year old boy. This in itself is
not a big curiosity, as those days infant mortality was high, but this
boy was a native Indian and is thought to be the servant of Pitt the
Elder. We can read as following on his stone:
memory of John Panis of the Tribe [unreadable] in North America
who Died January 14th 1763 Aged Nine years”
inscription is very simple, no expression for the hope of a resurrection
or about any divine care. . .It might have been it`s because he was only
a child and a servant but it might have also been because he was a
native American. . .
historically rich little village just on the outskirts of London means
the end of the places I`m guiding your through in this article.
have met this time Prime Ministers, a scientist, servants ,and young men
and women who all have come from a different social background and whose
lives all tell us a different story.
there is one thing that they share in common. All of them are lives from
bygone eras, and all their hopes, joys, sorrows, everyday matters have
become standstill in a moss covered gravestone just like ours will one
day. Before that what we can think of while walking among those bending,
empty-centred stones is to realize that “all losses are restored and
sorrow ends”1 one day, and in this conscious we can leave
their sacred memories hoping of a joyful resurrection. Let`s leave them
this hope even if we know that once they have put down their bones under
the greenness of the grass and the greyness of the graves, there is no
And that's what we can hear when we sit around on a quiet Sunday and breath in their fresh, country-smelling messages of happier fields, of a place “beyond fear and desire”2.
from Shakespeare, Remembrance of Things Past (Sonnet 30)