In suspension

17 July 2018
Ben Pentreath

Wednesday evening was not good. Here is our friend Ruth Guilding (author of the incredible Bible of British Taste) and Charlie, at the Pineapple, Leverton Street, which was the perfect place to watch England cruise to the World Cup final. It was not to be.

Ruth’s husband, A. N. Wilson, expressed the national mood, while buying consoling drinks for the whole pub.

It did occur to me that it might have been better, ultimately, to lose quietly on Wednesday rather than to France on Sunday afternoon. Luckily for readers of the blog, either way, things looked up on Thursday, when Charlie and I had a day at Wimbledon, which was a whole new experience for us.

Nothing was better than getting down to Dorset late that night. I had an early meeting in North Dorset on Friday. I got home as the sun was setting on Littlebredy. The magical days and nights of summer continue. The land is burned to a dry brown. Driving around Dorset literally feels like being in Italy these days.

Charlie’s veg garden is going mental, in a beautiful way.

A rogue lily has come up yellow in the garden which is unbelievably beautiful.

Saturday morning was misty.

Early morning walk.

But the sun soon burned off. We went to Bridport as usual. Charlie, his sister Annabel, and their friend Lucy, went up to the Yeovil Show.  I stayed at home, Mum and Dad came over for lunch, and Mavis and Sibyl went crazy chasing balls in the garden.  Too hot.

On Sunday morning we got up early to go swimming at Durdle Door.

The water was sparkling, turquoise.

We dropped the girls at the station to head back up to London, and Charlie and I headed home, and saw something very special. On the road just south of Dorchester is the tiny church at Whitcombe that we have driven past a thousand times and have always been a little too busy or  too late to stop at.  Now was the moment. 

The church is approached down a narrow footpath.

Sheep graze peacefully under the branches of a great oak.

The churchyard is beautifully overgrown.

Inside the interior is cool and white, but with some amazing fragments of early wall paintings. Here is St. Christopher.

Nearby lived William Barnes, the Dorset Poet, at Winterborne Came Rectory.  Barnes preached his first and last sermons in Whitcombe Church. This small plaque is in a niche by the altar. 

Looking across water meadows to the small thatched hamlet beyond.

A Holm Oak with long branches shading the path and gravestones.

Redundant now, the building is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust.  The building and setting are perfect. Ignoring the noise of cars speeding by, you are transported to 17th or 18th or 19th century Dorset in the blink of an eye. Time travel does exist. And from this perspective, the world feels calm and eternal.

We had a great lunch with Mum and Dad, and our niece and her boyfriend, and then came home for a long sleep. That evening we went with our neighbour Anne Lambton to the beach at Hive.

And a bottle of wine and fish soup and chips at the Seaside Boarding House, before driving back through the summer heat, in the small Morris Minor which is having the dream of a time at the moment. 

Tomorrow, Charlie and I are off to Stockholm for a couple of days of life inspiration, and then I’m teaching there on Friday. The days and weeks slip by so fast, but are held, by the heat of this amazing summer, as if in eternal suspension. 

17 comments on this post


The settings and interiors of these minor churches are so evocative and I’m glad to hear that Whitcombe is being cared for. The Barnes connection is very interesting too. Many thanks for this. Nicola


Enjoy your time in Stockholm! I fondly remember your post from there a few yrs back. It was so inspiring I forwarded it to a friend who was travelling to Sweden. He made a point of visiting a number of the spots you recommended;I received a nice pot of honey from the royal palace as a thank you. So I ought to thank you! Much belatedly,alas.

Lindsey Backsays:

Thank you for this post. After reading various newspapers on-line I was quietly despairing. I noticed your post in my inbox. It has restored my hope that I can focus on the life around me and enjoy the small pleasures that my life affords. I cannot do anything about the world but I can enjoy my family, the sunshine, my home and friends in my small corner of this country down under. Thank you for restoring my sanity. PS So sorry about the football. Oz was bundled unceremoniously out in the first round!!

Pierre B.says:

Heath everywhere north of the equator… Love your photos as usual. Have a nice hollyday in Stockholm!

P.S. Tennis is a great sport too!


Thank your for the time slip and a new poet for me. Found this, When I led by zummer streams
“The pride o’ Lea, as naighbours thought her,
While the zun, wi’ evenen beams,
Did cast our sheades athirt the water;
Winds a-blowen,
Streams a-flowen,
Skies a-glowen,
Tokens ov my jay zoo fleeten,
Heightened it, that happy meeten.”
Beautiful post for summer zentith…happy travels and as always, thanks for taking time to post during your most full days.


Lush contrasts. I love seeing what you see.
Thanks, Ben.


Ah – far from the madding crowd indeed….


The vegetable garden is spectacular. So very hot, but so very lovely. Thank you for sharing.


It is a tranquil and blessed gift to vicariously experience those lovely sights + experiences through your blog. For spiritually weary souls all – here in America – when principled, responsible behavior seems lost, the sea, the countryside, Charlie’s GARDEN, the PUPS ( ❤ ), timeless English buildings, your words: ALL reassuring. Thank you.


Thank you for sharing all of this timeless loveliness…. but truly nothing is more lovely than having your parents able to share in it and for them to see you so happy and fulfilled in your life…. such treasured experiences….what I wouldn’t do for 5 more minutes with either of my parents now alas gone but still in my heart. So happy for you, Ben and Charlie and of course for Mavis and Sibyl…. those sweet pups.


Wonderfully peaceful pictures of the church Ben.

Thank you

Isla Simpsonsays:

What I wouldn’t give for a swim at Durdle Door Ben, how dreamy. Last night was so hot in London, I could have heard a pin drop. Have the most marvellous time in Stockholm, been on my list for an age.


Dear Ben,

you will have a wonderful time in Stockholm. We went there early in June, unfortunately to early in the season to see interiors in Skansen.
But there is so much to see and enjoy the water everywhere. I highly recommend a visit to the small manor of Svindersvik in the weekend (photo’s of it in WoI started the Gustavian craze outside Sweden I guess) and a lunch at the boathouse nearby, it’s absolutely lovely.
Adore your blog, interiors, garden etc. etc.

Many greetings from Carin in the Dutch countryside

David Sanderssays:

Now you are just rubbing it in, Ben. What with heavenly little churches, seemingly lost in the mists of time, endless sun-drenched days, punctuated by delicious misty mornings and to top it off – as if it wasn’t enough – a refreshing little evening swim. Not that I’m envious at all 🙂 It all seems a world away from the torrid, Brexit debates going on at Westminster. Cheerio, from a colder, but just a wee bit calmer NZ.


The heaven of a hot English summer. All your photos and descriptions are so lovely. Ah, the Seaside Boarding House. How we love it there. Reminds me that it is time for another visit. Thank you again for your blog. Always a treat.


Dear Ben & Charlie
Really, days like Italy, love all your summer photos so much. The dahlias are early this year but very beautiful. Your mom enjoy your garden as well. Magical photos as always, so clear colors, peaceful at Whitcombe, summer of it`s best …… heaven !
I`m sorry about the football game, I was hoping 🙁 But Wimbledon must be gorgeous ! Dear Ben I love as you live, enjoy always your photos . Thanks again for sharing your wonderful days with us ! Wish you and Charlie a nice time in Stockholm, Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂

roxanne bethanysays:

This is an absolutely beautiful post…the church is just a dream…Thank you

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