Visit to Holy Island, August 2014

Louise Reeve at Lindisfarne

The day dawned bright, sunny and windy as we rendezvous’ed at the Newcastle Unitarian Church! Six of us piled into a van and a car to meet our fellow Unitarians from St. Mark’s Church in Edinburgh, who had kindly agreed that we could join them on their visit to Lindisfarne.

After an unhurried drive up, and a stop to take pictures of the spectacular views from the causeway, we met up with our Scottish friends in the coach car park, and gathered in a circle for a simple ceremony, in which Clare Gately from Edinburgh read out the prayer of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne. After that, we split up to do our own things, some roaming around the island, others exploring the castle and the Priory.

I went off with several members of the Edinburgh Unitarians to see the castle and walled garden, which I hadn’t seen before. It has seen many uses in its long life, the most recent (before becoming a National Trust property) being as a holiday home for Edward Hudson and his family. Exploring the castle’s many rooms made for a fascinating morning, and for me brought back some memories. My maternal grandmother was born in 1912, and whilst my family weren’t rich enough to live in a castle, much of the original furniture and books were familiar to me; one book in the children’s room is a book I remember reading at my grandmother’s house as a child.

After stopping to admire the walled garden (originally the castle garrison’s vegetable plot, and redesigned by Hudson’s friend, the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll), and visit the lime kilns, I re-joined the Newcastle and Edinburgh Unitarians for a picnic in a field. Fiona Tait and I went off to explore the priory, then stopped to listen to music at the nearby Church of St. Mary the Virgin. We just had time to say a fond farewell to our Edinburgh friends before departing the island in time to avoid being caught by the tides!

Louise Reeve