So have we been busy over the Winter?

The simple answer is: ‘you bet we have!’ It’s time to bring you up to date on what is planned and what you can expect to see unfold in the weeks and months ahead as we move towards the end of the project later this year.

Last October, we spent two miserably wet days planting 75kg of St Keverne daffodils, not to mention 1,000 Tete a Tete dwarf daffodils and 1,000 crocus. Well these pictures show that the effort was worth it. We have another couple of thousand bulbs “in the green” on order that will allow us to add to the mass of snowdrops already in the churchyard, as well as to plant aconites, wood anemones, wild garlic and native bluebells.

Over the coming months, the trees and shrubs planted over the winter and the wild flower and grass seed should all start to add to what we hope will become an even more beautiful haven for wildlife. We are most grateful to Owen Standen for developing a super management plan to help us build the churchyard as part of the green corridor the Parish Council is creating between the fields to the west of the village and the heart of our community on Tayne Field.

The local artists working for our project have been equally hard at work bringing colour to brighten our lives. The textile artists of local group Ethelburga Quilters have been working together remotely to create a piece inspired largely by the Anglo-Saxon metalwork discovered in Lyminge over the years. The panels include cloth coloured using natural dyes and pigments from the local countryside.

The finished piece will be 6 feet square and it is intended to hang on the side of the organ in the church, bringing a splash of colour to what is otherwise a rather dark corner.

Local artist and environmental activist Helen Lindon was commissioned to create an original artwork inspired by the project. Anyone familiar with Helen’s abstract art will perhaps be surprised to learn that she responded most strongly to the story of Saints Ethelburga and Eadburg, the two saints of Lyminge and the role of the spring, known as St Eadburg’s Well for over a thousand years. This spring is one of the sources of the Nail Bourne, and it clearly encouraged some of the first human hunters returning after the last Ice Age to stop and camp here 8-9,000 years ago. We are planning for Helen’s modern icon, which measures 30cm square to be placed above the aumbry on the south wall of the church.

Saints Ethelburga and Eadburg: a modern icon by Helen Lindon

There are two more artworks specially commissioned by the project that we hope will be completed in the coming months. Bishop Rose, the recently appointed Bishop of Dover will be coming to unveil these fantastic new pieces during the Lyminge Festival in June.

Anyone familiar with Tayne Field will know that thanks to the efforts of the Lyminge Historical Society and a grant from Folkestone and Hythe District Council, there is an information panel close to Church Road explaining about the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon royal hall complex in 2013-15. Four more information panels have been commissioned by the Pathways to the Past project, using the same historical consultant and the same manufacturer to create consistency, so we will have a heritage trail of five panels. These new panels will be erected in Well Field, and Court Lodge Green (the “Bumpy Field”) and there will be two in the churchyard. Here is a glimpse of the new panel that will stand within the outline of the Anglo-Saxon church that is now marked out in the path south of the church.

Readers of this blog will know that we have been working with the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York to create digital 3D reconstructions of the church site through its 1,400 year history. This work is now nearing completion and will be accessible through a touchscreen that will be installed in the church in the coming months. The screen will allow you to move around between the different historical church buildings, and there is a full 360 degree interior view of Ethelburga’s church that you can pan around. Buttons will allow you to drill down to get further information on key features if you wish. This is the most comprehensive history of the church site yet produced, bringing together as it does much new archaeological and historical information that has only come to light in the last few years.

The touchscreen will be mounted in a new display unit being built for us by local joinery Thoroughly Wood. This will also enable us to put a few artefacts found in the dig in 2019 on display, as well as providing a home for graphic panels giving further information about the church. We will be creating new handheld boards highlighting significant parts of the church that visitors will be able to carry as they walk around.

The project is currently partnering with the Lyminge Historical Society and Lyminge Parish Council to create new visitor information for the noticeboards in the Station Road carpark. This is work in progress, so keep an eye out for the new material in the months ahead.

Last but not least is the Lyminge Festival. We are partnering with the Lyminge Association to give an Anglo-Saxon theme to the bi-annual Lyminge Festival, scheduled this year for 21 June-4 July, just when Covid lock-down is planned to lift. Fingers crossed it does! Watch out for more details as we finalise the programme, but we are already delighted to confirm that re-enactment group Øst Centingas will make a welcome return to Lyminge on 3-4 July, and we have been promised a replica Viking longship as well as the usual range of combat and craft activities. I can also confirm that we are working with celebrated local brewery Canterbury Ales to brew a limited edition Festival Ale (“Queen Ethelburga’s Ale”), from a recipe created for us by champion beermaker Richard Baldwin. Queen Ethelburga’s Ale will be on sale on draught during the festival only through the Coach and Horses in Lyminge. Watch out for further details, including how to place an advance order to guarantee your own personal share of the limited supply of Queen Ethelburga’s Ale in bottle.

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