This note is about local matters, written on April 1 (Easter Sunday). Even though it will be after 12 noon before I publish it, it may still be true or not true; and indeed it may be partly true and partly fiction.
It is well-known, if not to the clergy, that many a church is, surreptitiously or otherwise, the repository of hundreds, nay thousands, of apparently secular engraved images. They occur in particular on the piers dividing nave from aisles. I encountered some particularly good ones in natural light yesterday: here are two different ships and a linear sketch which might just be an attempt to delineate the local castle. The fourth image tells us, through its confusing palimpsest of apparently meaningless lines, of two medieval ‘board’ games sensu played on board ship as suggested here by the outline of a ship within the muddle. The games were called ‘hoppedyddel’ and ‘flippegrote’, early version of draughts and shove halfpenny respectively. Clearly the etchers were thinking of after the service rather than the After Life.
The church at Snape, where my studio is, does not contain such art as far as I know but it is surrounded by the remains of an embanked oval enclosure, particularly clear through the graveyard on its south side. About 1 km east of the church is the site of a not very well-known Anglo-Saxon cemetery, containing among other things a boat within a burial mound or barrow, as at the famous Sutton Hoo just 10 miles away. This was one of six such barrows, all destroyed bar one which survives and is indeed now showing as a well-preserved mound following recent clearance of scrub and lopping of lower tree growth. Even less well-known is the existence, probably now former existence, of another possible burial mound across the fields eastwards towards the river Alde. All I have to do is find it, with just one documented clue.
Yet another obscure aspect of Snape’s past is that it was once home to an artists’ colony. This flowered briefly in late Victorian/Edwardian times, rather as did that at Aldeburgh just 4 miles east and Walberswick*and Southwold further up the coast. A difference now is, however, that they continue to attract artists, whereas Snape, as far as I know, is not home to any artist of distinction. If I am wrong, as I would hope is the case, I would be delighted if any artists who I have unintentionally offended would get in touch. But then, an artists’ colony at Snape? – I must be joking.
- By a curious con-incidence, but unbeknown to me at the time of writing the above, the previous day’s Guardian Review carried an article based on Will Self’s childhood memories of holidays at Walberswick ‘which had a reputation for being mildly raffish and bohemian’ (p.37).