Visiting St Juliot Church

Despite studying and loving literature, I have always struggled to read Thomas Hardy. He is so lusciously descriptive that it sometimes feels like overkill. Discussing writing with locally-based romantic fiction author, Johanna Jackson, today, we questioned whether overly-descriptive writing is so difficult because it leaves the reader with little imaginative input to add to the written word, as all the gaps are filled.

Anyway, I mention Hardy because of his connections with St Juliot Church, near Boscastle, which I visited for the second time yesterday on my return from Pendoggett. Hardy was a 30-year-old architect when he visited the church and he met his wife to be, Emma Gifford, in 1870.

The National Trust website says:

The first visit lasted four days during which Hardy visited Tintagel, Beeny Cliff and the Valency Valley.
 
Hardy returned to St Juliot in August that same year when he stayed longer. As well as working on the church he and Emma continued to explore the North Cornwall coast including Bude, Trebarwith Strand and The Strangles beach. It was whilst visiting Tintagel Castle that they found themselves locked in and had to attract attention by waving a handkerchief. 
The pair married in 1874. In 1873, Hardy wrote A Pair of Blue Eyes about their union, of which I have an unread copy on my shelf (reader, I tried).  Pictures in the church indicate that Emma was quite an unusual woman, who had blue eyes and long auburn ringlets. You don’t really see ringlets these days.  Sadly, by 1895, a year in, Hardy wrote  that ‘a bad marriage is one of the direst things on earth and one of the cruellest.’ This blog post in insightful if you want to know more about their life together.
St Juliot has a rather tucked away location. I crossed a ford to get to it and saw numerous rabbits bounding around. In spring, it is very beautiful outside. The east window is notable, depicting Christ as the Good Shepherd, but specifically for its clarity, I feel. There are memorial tablets and a Victorian screen and pulpit.
It’s worth a look as it is a beautiful little church, in a very tranquil setting, ideal for a spot of contemplation.

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