A Thriller based in a Diocese of Ely Church! The Atwelle Confession – come and find out more

The Atwelle Confession
 It’s an open secret! For “Atwelle” read “Outwell”, the church in West Norfolk where some remarkable carved figures were recently revealed in the roof-space (which I climbed up into have a look for myself – see https://bpdt.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/st-clements-outwell-starts-to-take-off/).
Now American author Joel Gordonson has brought them to life in a detective thriller, published this week, in which two identical series of murders five hundred years apart time-shift together, and the “gargoyles” predict the sequence.
Joel is keen to support the real Outwell church, and is flying over to be at a BOOK LAUNCH in Outwell Church on Friday 20th October. The event will start at 7.00pm, with organ music and with an introduction from me, followed by a short piece from Dr Claire Daunton on the carvings (with images) and the latest research; then four readings from the novel interspersed with music from the two periods in which the novel is set (1532 and 2017) performed by instrumentalists and singers. The event will finish with food and drink and a raffle, and conclude be about 8.30pm. We are of course looking to fly some books over as well for you to buy, or you can order through the UK Amazon website at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Atwelle-Confession-Joel-Gordonson/dp/1590794303/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505915630&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Atwelle+Confession. Do come and support this local church and have a good night out as well! All welcome.

Joel writes: “While the storyline and characters in this novel are fictional, the discovery of rare half demonic-half human wooden figures carved in the ceiling of the parish church of St. Clement is a true event. The carvings were “re-discovered” in 2012 by a good friend, a medieval historian from Cambridge, England, during her study of the unusual facets of the church in Outwell, Norfolk. BBC coverage of the discovery can be read here.

Told to me over dinner, her intriguing tale of unexpectedly peering through binoculars at something mysteriously unidentifiable in the dark ceiling of the church prompted my imagination and resulted in my rough outline of this book that same evening.

Later, during my research and writing of the manuscript, she generously shared with me her comprehensive knowledge of the numerous remarkable facets and the history of St. Clement’s, including an ancient will of the prominent Beaupre family from the village.

St. Clement’s is a unique collection of features and artifacts, especially for a church in a small village off the beaten path. Many of the descriptions in this book are taken from the diverse and fascinating aspects of the church. In addition to the carvings, the church houses an ancient wooden chest built with special compartments to hold important documents, an alms box with uncommon carving, monuments to influential families from the village, and a wonderfully worn spiral stone staircase leading to a porch and a parvis overlooking the nave.

The church is being lovingly restored and preserved, despite daunting obstacles, through the efforts of a dedicated group of parishioners who deserve admiration, thanks, and our support.

For information about the history of St. Clement’s, please visit their website.

You can watch this video about the current restoration of St.Clement’s.”


Engage Award winner: St James’ Church, Little Paxton

chOccasionally it takes something as dramatic as the falling masonry at Little Paxton to take an “engage” project on to the next step. The repair, using experienced architects, has meant the churchyard path can be re-opened to the public who can now continue to appreciate and use this wonderful recently re-developed building and again, this project has acted as a spring-board to the forthcoming Wall to Wall scheme to repoint the whoel church. The ‘pop-up’ tea room was a marvellous idea – well done for repairing this iconic building.



Engage Award Winner: St Nicholas, Great Wilbraham


For some PCCs a church loo and servery has stopped being a luxury and become a necessity. St Nicholas’s has a wonderful suite of facilities very neatly installed at the west end. The clear glass balustrade of the ringing floor is striking in its simplicity and allows those the nave to have a clear view of the west window but also to admire the technique of the ringers. But there’s more to this project than that: with a toilet and modest kitchen the role of the church building can expand witnessed by the pre-service breakfasts and the other groups able to enjoy the building whether for concerts or meetings.


Engage Award Winner:St Mary, Mepal


The sound of a bell calling the community to worship is one of the evocative sounds of the English countryside. How different and quiet the area round Mepal St Mary must have been during the forced silence of the bell. But after this project the bell rings out again – Halleluiah! In addition, the community spirit roused with the success of this project seems to be the spur for further proposed alterations to the building. Well done Mepal.clip_image002

Children of Mepal & Witcham C of E Primary School arriving at St Mary’s for a service (thanks to the school for the photo)

Engage Award Winner: St John the Baptist, Somersham


It is very satisfying to repair a roof which will last for the next 100 years. We’re all custodians and being able to pass a church to the next generation in an improved condition is an aim we all aspire to. Somersham PCC has done it and secured a sound building for the amazing range of community groups it hosts. With a new lighting system last year and the roof this – what will next year bring?

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Engage Award Winner: All Saints, Pidley


The photograph tells the story. Before the lighting scheme the chancel looked dark and the altar was barely visible. Now your eye moves east to the wonderfully lit sanctuary. The spin-off of additional weddings demonstrates how adapting lighting brings massive change to churches. I suspect the worshippers as well as community groups –  including the highly successful flower festival –will reap the benefits for years to come.


Engage Award Winner: St Peter & St Paul, Fenstanton

chWhat a transformation! Not only has the PCC converted a rather dowdy church hall into something very special but it has offered its community a superb venue for a wide range of activities – some of which seemed to have started as a result of the refurbishment. This is an excellent example of the Church engaging with the community.image