A Trip to Siddington at Harvest Time

For many years we've heard about the harvest decorations at the church at Siddington in Cheshire but this weekend was the first time we managed to get along to see them.  The church is 15th century and timber framed, but was clad in brick in the early 19th century as the walls began to bulge under the heavy stone roof.  Later, painted lines suggested the hidden timbers.

The church harvest decorations had deservedly drawn the crowds who were given a warm welcome.

But stepping inside was truly breathtaking.

The church was illuminated by corn dollies everywhere, over one thousand of them.

They are made by Raymond Rush, now 84 years old, who was still busy making more dollies in his workshop alongside the church during our visit. Usually the corn dollies are just regarded as a 'fertility symbol', an all-too-convenient tag given to traditions that some people just can't understand.  I'm yet to be convinced about any real origin for the making of corn dollies, though I do like the idea of them holding the 'spirit of the corn'.  Imagine the life of the wheat escaping the scythe until it reaches the last stand of corn, when this is cut you would know you have the spirit in that straw.  Making it into a dolly keeps it safe through the winter then it is broken with due ceremony on Plough Monday to release the spirit back into the soil to give life to the new year's crop.

Whatever the true origin, they are different between regions and have changed through time.  It seemed very fitting then to have corn dollies reflecting the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics this year.

The harvest decorations at Siddington are an amazing sight and I'm very glad we got to see them.  If you get the chance to visit, do take it.