No… No… Not Gay Carols, but carols at St Giles’ church Hampton Gay!
We were invited to join some friends for the walk across the fields to this quaint little church which stands on its own, without electricity, road access or any other modern nonsense, for their service of nine lessons and carols. By the way the name "Gay" comes from the de Gay family, who were the twelfth century Lords of the Manor.
Despite being rarely used the church is well maintained and has a gallery at it’s west end with three rows of seats, where we sat, it also houses a barrel organ! The church was packed and looked beautiful in the candlelight and the music was courtesy of an harmonium. History and more photos here.
Hampton Gay is an almost deserted village, near where we are moored at Thrupp, having fallen into decline following a disastrous fire which destroyed the village manor house in 1887. The village had more than its fair share of disasters for on Christmas Eve, 1874, there was a tragic railway accident in which thirty-four people died, including two children and 64 were injured when the train left the tracks and plunged into the Oxford Canal below. Some of the victims are buried in the churchyard and soon after the nearby mill where some of the survivors were taken was itself destroyed by fire in 1875. More details here.
We had a wonderful time and our friends came back to the boat for drinks and mince pies etc. and some stayed and joined us for an evening meal.