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  • Writer's pictureJane Ritzenthaler

Sabbath in Stow-on-the-Wold


Since there are no buses on Sundays in the Cotswolds, I planned to spend my day exploring Stow and the immediate area. After another sumptuous English breakfast, I headed out into the sunny morning. I soon came upon St. Edward's, an Anglican church dating back to Saxon times (900s) today's structure is much much newer. If you can call the 15th century 'newer.' I circled around to the back, taking photos and peering at worn gravestones, when I came upon a curious door flanked by two ancient yew trees. It brings to mind Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock..." J.R.R. Tolkien fans see something quite different. Locals are convinced the door was the inspiration for the Doors of Durin, leading into Moria in Lord of the Rings. As I was standing there, the church bells began ringing, announcing morning service. I went to the front door and peered in, not sure whether to enter or not. But a man hurried over and asked me if I'd like to join the service, and I nodded I did. I was handed a small hymnal and order of service, and guided to a pew towards the back. Those of you who know me are aware that this service was nothing at all like Calvary Chapel in Camp Verde! But Truth was spoken (rather animatedly) and the Spirit was there. And I actually new the last hymn and could sing along! It was also communion Sunday, and as is typical of Anglican and Episcopalian churches, the congregants go up to receive the elements. But things have changed since my high school years when I last attended an Episcopalian church affiliated with my private girls' school. Back then, we knelt at the railing, the wafer was placed on our tongue, and the silver chalice with wine was offered. Today, no kneeling (at all) and the pastor dipped the wafer into the wine and placed it into my hands. Below are photos of the church, and the beautiful stained glass window, referred to as the Moses window, quoting the scripture "If they hear not Moses and the Prophets neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."





Afterwards I continued my wanderings around town, ending sitting on a bench in Market Square, where stocks are predominately displayed as evidence of public ridicule during the Middle Ages. Stow was born in pre-Roman times, when three important trade routes crossed at a high point (wold). There was an Iron Age fort, followed by a Roman garrison town. In 1107, Stow was the site of an international fair, with people coming from as far away as Italy to purchase wool fleece. I had to squint and picture the vast grassy area without the current asphalt and parking spaces.





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