This piece was in the May Binsey Link – how amazing is it that over 2500 people signed the guest book in St Bega’s in 2015? Read more about this beautiful church…
Two and a half thousand people signed the visitors’ book during the year. This is probably a small fraction of all those who came. They came from all parts of the British Isles. But a surprising number came from even further away, many from the United States, then Australia and New Zealand also from Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, India, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.
They come for all sorts of reasons. The most common remark is that they are making a return visit, even from as far away as London, France, Poland. Some have been coming every year and regard it as ‘our place’ ‘our favourite respite’ ‘we feel so happy here’ ‘never forgotten’ ‘we love it here’ ‘always emotional.’ Married couples remember their marriage here, sometimes bringing their children, or come to celebrate special anniversaries. Mark from London comes ‘every year in me-moriam of my mother who loved it.’ Remembrance of loved ones is a common theme.
St Bega’s Way, the three-day walk from St Bees to St Bega’s, brings a regular stream of visitors. One group wrote: ‘perfect conclusion to St Bega’s Way.’ It is sometimes more challenging, ‘walked St Bega’s Way thank you for being open in a hail storm’ ‘a slog but worth it.’
There were comments about the collection of Bibles in different languages. ‘Magnificent bible collection’ ‘World Bibles brilliant idea!’ ‘Read the Aussie Bible it’s great especially for teenagers Brill!’ And a volunteer speaker for the Bible Society ‘Good to see your enthusiasm for Bible translation.’
The WW1 research was admired, for example one person wrote ‘congratulations to the guy who did the WW1 folder; it is superb.’
The setting is widely appreciated. Visitors from Wimborne came while work was being done in the churchyard ‘we are wildlife workers too!’ Among other comments ‘Glad the floodgate worked’ ‘Beautiful and surprising’ ‘I’ve looked at this church across the lake for 25 years & finally found it I’ll be back often’ and a little child Esme said ‘I saw a eagle and daffodils.’
And there are other varied reasons for visiting. ‘A nice change from the Hammersmith Flyover.’ Some are looking for fami-ly graves. Melvyn Bragg’s book Credo still inspires visits.
Underlying many of the entries in the visitors’ book is the sense that this is a holy place ‘a haven of peace’ ‘unrivalled place for contemplation’ ‘deeply spiritual’ ‘wonderful to see such an old living church’.
Many leave prayers in the special book, all of which are also offered in our regular worship. As we think of the thousands who come here we join in the prayer of one visitor ‘May God bless all who come into this church’ and the praise of another ‘To God be the glory.’