It is only in most recent times that the final stage of the River Trent has flowed north from where Newark now is into the Humber estuary. For half of the last 250 000 years, it flowed north east to pass through the gap in the Lincoln edge now used by the River Whitham. In the process it laid down a substantial gravel bed - the line of recently flooded gravel pits near Whisby shows this up clearly. Apparently the gravel (and the fossilised fragments in it) yields significant information about where the water had flowed from and what animals lived around it; during inter-glacial periods, lion and hippo roamed what would be Lincolnshire.
We went on a guided walk on Thursday morning as part of the Lincolnshire Heritage Open Day weekend and were taken to this spot on the edge of Thorpe on the Hill from which we could look across what is clearly a river valley albeit one which does not now contain a river.
Our own offering for the weekend on Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning was entitled ‘A Tudor Tile Tells a Tale’ and shared with a small but appreciative audience material previously posted here. It appears that our tile has a high quality design but low quality execution, so it may have been commissioned from a good workshop (the indications are that this might have been in North Street, York) but have been manufactured on the spot at Winestead where the other surviving examples of it were used in the Manor House.
We went round there last week to look at the impressive moated site on which the house stood and reminded ourselves again how easy it would have been to take our tile a couple of miles to the quay at Patrington Haven and then on an eleven mile boat journey across the Humber and up the Freshney to Little Coates. Or, if a subsidiary Manor House owned by the same family did exist near the church and was being given a new floor at about the same time, perhaps our tile was also made on site and didn’t need to be transported at all?
Meanwhile, those interviewed yesterday for our vacant Team Vicar position were challenged by the Bishop of Grimsby to say what a Christian is and why they are one. I came home to be reminded that Bishop David Jenkins, who has just died, offered ‘God is as found in Jesus, so we have hope’ and wondered whether, in line with another old post, I would have wanted to offer something like ‘those who have caught a foretaste of God’s kingdom so keep on pursuing the stories and places where they flavour seems to be catchable’.