The Memory of the Just is Blessed
Deal on the east coast of Kent is a microcosm of the best of Britishness with a heavy dose of end-of-the-line quirkiness. The winding lanes of the old smuggling quarter are awash with quaint cottages, some called after other places in Britain like Fleet, Mendham, Rutland and Stockport. The cutely named Ticklebelly Alley meanders from the railway station to a quiet Victorian residential enclave adjacent to the old smuggling quarter. Its streets are patriotically named after the Patron Saints of the British Isles: St Andrew’s, St David’s, St George’s and St Patrick’s Road. To the north of St Andrew’s Road at the very top of the area (apropos considering the map of the British Isles) lies a church named after the Patron Saint of Scotland.
The Early English style St Andrew’s Anglo Catholic Church was built in 1850 to the design of Ambrose Poynter on the 0.4 hectare site of a workhouse. Then 15 years later, the chancel was extended and vestries were added in Earlyish English style. Chapels were added in the closing decade of the 19th century. Use of Kentish ragstone with Caen stone dressings throughout suggest a cohesive timelessness. Eight salvaged medieval gargoyles protrude from the sturdy buttressed steeple. Domestic looking dormers in the tiled roof light the aisles. Ambrose Poynter was a pupil of John Nash between 1814 and 1818.
On the Second Sunday Before Lent 2018 Father Paul Blanch, the interim Priest in Charge, preached at St Andrew’s, “Our reasons as to why we choose to be here are not necessarily wrong,” referring to a recently circulated survey asking parishioners to state their reasons for churchgoing. “No, they are important to each of us in different ways. But what is important to us all is that the Church is the sacramental presence of Jesus Christ and when we come together, when we gather, we make Church. We make Jesus present in a special way. We become His body which exists for us and we continue to make Him present for those outside of the Church, as much as for ourselves. As the late Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple said it is the only society that exists for those outside it and our priority as the Church must be the needs of the most vulnerable of God’s world.”
St Andrew’s Church lies just 380 metres inland as the dove would fly from the English Channel coast (and a mere 42 kilometres dove flying from Calais) with its mysterious disappearing and reappearing Goodwin Sands. Anyone for cricket? Yes but only in summer and not just because cricket is a seasonal sport. These 16 kilometre long sandbanks, 10 kilometres out from the coast, were only associated with shipwrecks until some sporting locals started playing cricket matches in the high summers of the 1820s during low tide. The tradition continues two centuries later. Even in the rolling sea billows of midwinter, glimpses can be seen from Deal of Goodwin Sands.
A horsebox is parked along Beach Street between The Bohemian bar and the entrance to Deal Pier. A sign on a kitchen chair on the pavement next to the horsebox reads: “Following on from my previous horsebox exhibition The Rolling Roving Insect Show, this exhibition, my work is all one. My latest work ‘Something About Time’ can be seen within (it has been designed to be viewed singularly / close companions) a single seat is offered and whilst viewing I ask (for it is not mandatory) the observer to read and say out aloud to themselves, ‘Time, is as is, as I am here now.’” Inside the horsebox, an enigmatic hanging ball of silver cord and exquisitely cast silver insects are reflected in a seemingly bottomless well which is really a beer keg filled with water. “My show is all about time,” reasserts artist Jeremy P. Deal of the centuries.