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My Memories of St. Mary's

By Tony Jay

I first saw St. Mary’s in 1970, when Delia took me to see the church which was such an important part of her childhood. The building was still intact, but had been deconsecrated, and we met a young man named Ray Hayes and his friends, who were running a youth group there.

The woodland setting was so idyllic that it inspired me to paint two pictures, one looking from the adjacent earthwork with Delia and Rosemary as girls in their white dresses running (late again!) to the stile entrance at the rear of the graveyard. The other painting was on a large wooden panel showing an imaginary scene of the deconsecration with the minister coming out of the church doorway. Delia and I left this deconsecration painting, suitably wrapped and with a covering note, at the door of the church and received a nice letter of thanks from Mr. Hayes.

Since then, Delia and I have often visited St. Mary’s and have seen its sad decline and vandalisation over the years. A hint of its original magic can still be felt, but perhaps only by those who knew it before. I would be interested to know what became of Ray Hayes and whether the painting still exists and could be photographed.