Ireby Old Church

Ireby Old Church is a peculiar little building standing in an overgrown field. Once a parish church, only the old chancel and a couple of pillars remain. It is no longer used for worship, having been declared redundant in the early 1970s. During the ‘pandemic’, this ironically meant it was more likely to be left open than one still functioning.

Stepping inside is to behold our medieval past. Ancient carvings, narrow round-headed Norman windows, blocked doorways: all bespeak another age. We disturbed a lady inside who had been meditating. We naturally apologised, though she proved friendly enough, describing the energy she could feel emanating from a 900-year-old sacred space. Such feelings, sadly, have always eluded me. Still, there was a great power in that place. It was not coming from the ancient masonry, nor from the ghosts of eight centuries of burials in God’s acre. It came from an open book straddling the altar: thereupon was a copy of the scriptures. It was a New English Bible, a rather outmoded 1960s translation much beloved by Anglicans, but now considered rather dated, as versions bragging about being contemporary are doomed to become. Notwithstanding the translation, it was such a joy to see an open Bible. There are many churches in this land in which God’s word is barely opened, or opened and then ignored. If our meditating companion only realised the power and authority of those printed sheets, she would have been busy poring over its pages rather than absorbing ambience from stonework.

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4