[There is currently (Summer 2020) a problem with the formatting on this Index page of my website, which I am trying to resolve: it may require a complete rewrite! The other pages listed on the left seem not to be affected.]
Welcome to Martin Knight's Website!
In the Table of Contents listed on the sidebar you'll see that the first two web pages are devoted to the year's family news as usual, and the next to our local community connections. These are followed by reflections on our travels, as viewed through the eyes of a geographer. Finally, there are samples of ongoing research interests of mine in South London, North Kent, and South Wales. As well as being a keen geographer and teacher all my working life, I am a committed Anglican, and a family man who enjoys gardening, travelling, hill walking, and reading. In my retirement I continue to have a keen practical interest in landscape, history and archaeology, geology and ecology; I research and lead guided walks, write short articles on local topics, and am frequently quoted as 'Dulwich's Effra man'. Margaret takes bookings for St Stephen's Church Hall, manages our family properties and her shares and investment portfolio, and also researches our holidays on the Web. We both enjoy singing with St Stephen's Church Choir (coronavirus lockdown permitting!), and all the above interests are reflected in these pages.
Greetings from leafy Dulwich!
Our family is still growing - in every sense of the word! We have a widening extended family, the grandchildren are growing fast (four girls and two boys ranging from one to 17 years, plus one more due this December - see below); horizons (and waistlines?) are expanding, and Margaret and I are growing ... er, beginning to feel our age!
After more than forty years Margaret and I still enjoy hill walking, especially in the Brecon Beacons with the younger and wider family.
Annabel has had very successful exam. results at Sydenham High, and has been accepted at Exeter College, Oxford this October. She is also having driving lessons and has just acquired her first car, courtesy of Andy and Sarah R.
Katie; and her sister Abi are making very good progress at Eliot Bank Primary School, and enjoy playing with little brother Jack, and 5-year old sister Holly, who has joined them at Eliot Bank along with their cousin Edward (Sarah's son). Ben's electrical business keeps him busy; he has put a lot of effort into refurbishing the town house in Forest Hill, and he plays his full part in helping Lizzy juggle her Home Office career with being home-maker and mum - they all live very active lives, and are fully committed in their Forest Hill c0mmunity.
Andy is working his way up the Civil Service career ladder via OfQal in Coventry, while retaining close contact with family and friends in London; he and Sarah R are kept busy with Baby Max in their 3-bedroomed semi near Solihull in the West Midlands, along with Hewey the cat and their young spaniel Roscoe. Mary (-Ann) still teaches at a Catholic nursery school in Crofton Park, where she is Assistant Head , while our eldest daughter Sarah continues to combine a top-level career at Ernst and Young in the City with being mum to Eddy (dutifully supported by his dad Gerald, and the rest of the family). All the grandchildren live close and enjoy each other's company, and now that Eddy's step-sister Grace is part of our family too, Gerald and Grace spend increasing time with Sarah, Eddy and all of us at Lapsewood Walk, Talybont and Herne Bay.
Recent trips and activities
2019 had started quietly, partly because I had to settle into a complicated pattern of medical treatment at Guy's Hospital, and also because of increased commitments at St Stephen's Church: apart from our weekly choir singing, I edited two editions of the Parish 'Spire' Magazine, and Margaret took on the booking arrangements for the Church Hall. There was also variable weather and winter aches and pains to contend with.
However, we did have two spring holidays arranged for 2019: one week's bed and breakfast on the Greek island of Santorini in late April, and one week in a self-catering apartment at Nerja on Spain's Costa del Sol in mid-May. Later in the year there were visits to West Sussex, Herne Bay, and the ;Brecon Beacons to look forward to. Finally, in October there was to be a stimulating week near Ephesus in Turkey (see next page of this website for 2019 photos)
In June 2019 we celebrated Lizzy's and Jack's respective birthdays. On the first (only?) really hot, sunny day of the month, Margaret and I were invited to join them, with Ben and the girls, at Gary and Wendy's mobile home at West Wittering near Chichester. On arrival we walked around the village (two or three times, because we'd forgotten to bring the directions!), and then all enjoyed Wendy's barbecue on the extensive beach, while the kids went body-boarding. Gary took Margaret and me on a very pleasant seaside walk around East Head in the early evening before our drive back to London.
We have had our usual successful family weeks at Talybont-on-Usk in the Brecon Beacons, which in 2019 included a new walk up the Taf fechan Gorge to Pont sarn. However, there was a very unfortunate aftermath that year - <u>our home had been burgled while we were away</u>: thank goodness for the help of the family in clearing up! <br verall we had a very interesting and enjoyable holiday in Turkey that set us up for a busy autumn at home and at Church, during which I completed another 'Spire' magazine article<i> ('Our Little Effra')</i>, and learnt some very encouraging news on the medical front: my two year melanoma treatment seems to have been very successful and I can now drive again!</div><div> <br ;for some hill walking in <b>April</b> (but see <b>
In March 2020 we were very much looking forward to our second Parish Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in north Norfolk, but as the March weekend visit approached we began to have some concerns: the frequent news of floods and stormy weather, Margaret's very persistent head cold, and the growing coronavirus threat, particularly as it seemed we might have to drive the three and a half hours with two or three extra passengers, and the luggage of course. <br /></div><div align="left"> However, we need not have worried: Margaret's cold cleared up, the weather forecast for the weekend was mainly dry with sunny intervals, and it was decided to hire a minibus with driver for the main journeys up and back, paid for by the PCC. Lesser concerns about the availability and quality of our accommodation and of the activity programme in what was the first week of their Pilgrimage season were quickly dispelled when we were warmly greeted by the friendly staff, and then given an introduction and tour of the site by a very knowledgeable local historian. We then went for a short walk, had a very welcome dinner, and prepared for the first of the weekend's Devotions: Evensong, followed by a special Pilgrimage Eucharist.two Shrines of Our Lady at Walsingham: we were staying at the <i>Anglican </i>Shrine in the heart of the village, near where Lady Richeldis, devout wife of a wealthy 11th century landowner, claimed to receive a visitation from the Virgin Mary, and who was inspired to build the 'Holy House', a replica of Mary's home in Nazareth. Pilgrims soon started to visit the site, and two centuries later the village had grown up to serve them, and a large Priory was built (it was hoped that it would eventually become a full-scale Abbey), to become the second most important Pilgrimage site in England, after the Thomas Becket Shrine at Canterbury. The Priory/Abbey was enlarged several times, but was then closed, robbed, and stripped of its wealth in 1536 during Henry VIII's Reformation and Dissolution of the Monastries. The site was then abandoned and parts sold off, although pilgrims continued to visit, especially those who still followed the 'Old Religion'. <br /></span></div><div align="left"><span style="font-size: 14px;"> But of course England was increasingly a Protestant country, and veneration of effigies of the old Saints, and of the Virgin Mary as the 'Mother of God', incurred suspicion, punishment or even exile. It was mainly the 19th century Catholic Revival and the 'Oxford Movement' (led by John Henry Newman) that brought about an upturn in Walsingham's fortunes, and this is where the modern Anglican Pilgrimages and the <i>second</i> 'Shrine of Our Lady' come in: the last Chapel one mile south of Walsingham on the old Pilgrim's Route had been abandoned for many years and used as a barn, but was reconsecrated as a Catholic Shrine in 1881, with a railway halt nearby. Recently, it has received Vatican dispensation to become the 'National Catholic Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham'
There is no easy access from London and other main regions of the UK, sited as it is an hours drive from railways, main roads and motorways, in one of the more sparsely populated parts of East Anglia. However, its relative remoteness has undoubtedly contributed to its unspoilt attractiveness, and its success as a place of pilgrimage, quiet reflection and re-creation. The village has interesting and attractive 17th and 18th century architecture, medieval and 19th century history and heritage (especially the Priory and Franciscan remains), and is set in beautiful Norfolk countryside. The Anglican Shrine itself has an appropriate devotional ambience, and there are pleasant walks along the River Stiffkey and the former Wells-to-Walsingham railway to the Catholic Shrine just over a mile to the south. Margaret and I particularly enjoyed the Icons and the 'Quiet Garden' at the old railway station. We would like to have spent another day in Walsingham in order to revisit the village, its museum, and the Abbey Gardens, but we had to rejoim the St Stephns Group for the minibus journey home.
In view of its history it is perhaps not surprising that the worship and liturgy at Walsingham's Anglican Shrine is focused very much on the 'High', Anglo-Catholic end of the Church of England spectrum (rather unkindly referred to as 'smoke, smells and bells' by some sceptics). We were aware of this before we went, but even so, as a 'low-to-middle of the road' Anglican (albeit with an ecumenical background), I did find that parts of the traditional offices, language and rituals we experienced made me feel a little uncomfortable. However, the devotion and involvement of the faithful around us was unmistakeable, infectious, and at times very moving.
One week after Walsinghgam we had arranged to visit the Saatchi Gallery in Sloane Square to see the much lauded International Tutenkhamun Exhibition before it continued its three year journey round the world; many of the exhibits have never left Egypt before. We have fond memories of our two Nile Valley cruises ten years ago, and we were delighted to be able to visit the Exhibition just before the Coronavirus restictions came into force.