St Botolph's is an old stone church several hours’ drive from Patterdale in Victoria. It was built early in the colonial history of Australia…or possibly even before that. As with the Vouch-Safe cottage just over the border in NSW and Hob’s cottage in the chalklands over there, the actual provenance is unclear.
Despite the mist surrounding its origins, St Botolph's is a real building, set in a charming garden. At one time, the services there were always taken by the Reverend Rory Inkersoll, an enigmatic red-headed priest with amber-coloured eyes. He often wore a crystal around his neck under his vestments. He wasn’t strictly the parish priest, but he held the services for anyone who wanted to attend. Rory had a clear vision of right and wrong, and a good eye for truth, but he also had a wide tolerance. Even though he’s retired now, he still sometimes comes to take a special service, especially weddings and baptisms. The bishop may not approve but Rory doesn’t feel it necessary to tell him everything.
St Botolph's might be small and old, but it has a welcoming atmosphere. As someone once remarked, it’s seen a lot of love over the years, and some of that’s soaked into the stones.
St Botolph was the patron saint of gateways, which makes him a fitting patron of this church which is built very close to one of the gateways to over there. This made it handy for Rory who has always lived mostly over there and so found it convenient to walk or ride a pony to take the services.
St Botolph's is the church of choice for any fay who happens to feel the need. Florist Flori Alexandris did the flowers for Pen Swan’s wedding to Duffy Inkersoll. Flori was surprised Pen and Duffy had chosen a church so far from Patterdale, but she agreed to help set up the flowers and also served as a bridesmaid for Pen.
Flori looked at the old stone church behind them. She’d done the flowers that morning and hadn’t had a chance to have a good look at the building before. It was old and quaint, though she wasn’t sure she understood why Pen and Duffy had chosen it for their wedding. Why hadn’t they gone to one closer to home?
During a lull in proceedings at the wedding, she asked Hamish McTavish, one of Duffy’s friends, about the church.
“Well, that’s the church the Reverend Rory used to preach at before he retired. It’s the one a lot of fairies use for services.”
“I wondered why Pen chose a church so far away.” Flori frowned. “There are Christian fairies?”
“Some, in the broad sense. Can’t you guess the scripture we all love to quote?”
“In my Father’s house are many mansions? It’s in John.” She laughed. “My grandmother used to quote the scriptures, including bits from the Song of Solomon. She believed in happiness. I wish I’d known her better, but she had my mother late in life.”
“That’s the line we all favour all right. That old church is a place of many mansions.”
Since Duffy was Reverend Rory’s grandson, it wasn’t odd that this was the church chosen for the wedding. Though Rory doesn’t take regular services there anymore, he has a curate named Dai Dafydd, a shy griff teg from the valleys. Dai takes a dawn service each Sunday and specialises in sung Eucharist. As Rory is wont to say Dai takes the line Lift up thy voice very seriously. Luckily, St Botolph's has excellent acoustics.
St Botolph's appears in Floribunda and the Best Men and is mentioned in The Kissing Ring and Sunshower
About the Blog
Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)
The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!