click photo to enlargeThe recent hot spell has given way to pleasant summer temperatures and the unremitting blue skies to soft broken clouds. Just the weather, we thought, for a morning cycle ride through the golden wheat and green vegetables of the late July Fenland landscape. Our route took us to Gosberton, a village whose medieval church has a prominent spire that acts as a lighthouse to cyclists navigating their way through the complex web of lanes north of the settlement.
We had no particular destination in mind as we cycled along, but the sight of the spire set me to thinking what I'd recently read about the name of the village. The Domesday Book of 1086 apparently calls it by two slight variations of the same name - Gosebertcherche and Gosebertchirche. In 1177 this had become Goseberdechirche, and in 1180 Goseberchirche. All these variations, it seems, derive from the joining together of the Germanic personal name Gosbert and the Old English word cirice, "a church". By the 1200s the Old Norse kirkja ( also meaning "a church") had replaced the second part of the name and Gosseberdkyrk, Goseberdkirke and Gosberkirke are found. Right through to the eighteenth century a name ending in the word "church" in one form or another was used to describe the village. Yet, in 1487 the first use of the suffix -ton is found in Gosburton. The ending -tun, with slightly different pronunciations, is Old English and Old Norse for enclosure, farmstead, village or estate. The current spelling of the village name dates from around the seventeenth century. Such changes in the name of a settlement are not unusual in England. What I found interesting in this instance is that the "church" part of the name should disappear when the parish church of St Peter and St Paul has, for centuries, remained the largest and most prominent building in the village, and the one that still, to a large extent, defines it.
I took my photograph as we cycled in from the north east, and it captures the way the pinnacled tower with its elegant spire dominates the surrounding houses and trees.
photograph and text (c) T. Boughen
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 45mm (90mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/800
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On