Hidden Treasure Rev Dilys discovers local hidden treasurers and makes suggestions for possible events in the Parish
Exploring our heritage is a fascinating business. The Heritage Open Days are a way of finding out about local history through the hidden treasures of buildings and artefacts that are normally not available on public display.
Across the Thames Valley various locations opened their doors recently to allow a glimpse into their hidden past.
Marlow's lovely St Peter's Street is one of the oldest streets in the town from where the first wooden bridge spanned the River Thames and the barges that operated along the river loaded and unloaded. There are many fine old buildings on the street including St Peter's RC church, the Masonic- Hall and the Old Deanery and Parsonage.
Whilst the Roman Catholic Church is open daily, they have a special religious artefact which they display only very occasionally. This is said to be the hand of St James the Apostle. It is 'a small slender oriental hand its enveloping skin black and shrivelled'.
Part of it is missing and of course there is a complex story behind how this artefact has come to be in Marlow. Whether or not the story is true is like so many stories of reliquaries found across Europe. However it was on display in a glass casket and people were interested to see it.
The Deanery Garden was a wonderful peaceful oasis which visitors were surprised and delighted by not only for its size in the middle of the town, but by the plants and trees found there. The Deanery is the oldest building in Marlow and has a history stretching back across the centuries. It was hidden treasure to savour.
The Masonic Hall was an interesting visit - with members on hand to explain the symbols and history. I have always wanted to learn more about the Masonic practices so again it was good to be able to ask the questions and to have an open discussion.
A little further afield, Holy Trinity, Penn also had a Heritage Open Day. The church has many hidden treasures but their special treasure is The Penn Doom. This is a 15th century painting of the Last Judgement on oak panels. Apparently there arc only five such 'doom' paintings of this type in the country, the other four being in Suffolk. It has been beautifully re stored and depicts the graphic story of Heaven and Hell.
It would be lovely to have our own three churches' hidden treasure displayed for Heritage Open Days. Littlewick has its lovely mural, telling the life story of Jesus, behind the altar, Hurley its medieval abbey history and Stubbings its special Victorian tiles, stained glass and chancel ceiling. We have a lot to offer visitors so it's something to think about for another year. The real treasure vvc value is of course our love of God's creation and through that our love for God. For 'where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also' (Matthew 6:21)
Enjoy this wonderful Indian summer while it lasts.