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The Church has a Whall window portraying the “Annunciation”, this in the Chancel North (List of works by Christopher Whall)

Thanks to the late Joyce Ashton, the people of the village of Barkston in Lincolnshire will be remembered for what they loved about their food.

In a publication compiled by Joyce and subsequently published to raise funds for St. Nicholas Church, you can learn about and try out all sorts of recipes collected from the villagers, not so ancient and not so modern: Pan Haggarty (a new one for me), Elderflower Champagne (an old one for me) and Grantham Gingerbreads , named presumably after the nearest town to the village.

Grantham is of course famous for all sorts of things: Isaac Newton went to The King’s School, it had the first women police officers in the UK, it produced the UK’s first tractor in 1896 and there’s something else it was responsible for which I can’t quite put my finger on at the moment but it may well have been the Grantham Gingerbreads (page 12 of the Barkston Village Recipe Book) which I shall be attempting to rustle up in the not too distant future.

You wonder though as you skim through the recipes how she went about collecting them. Did she put out a call one Sunday morning to the assembled parishioners? Follow that up by door to door visits? This book of ‘retro-recipes’ was printed in 1978 so we can be sure there was no social media activity at the time to help her put out her call.

No Googleing, no Twittering, no FaceBooking, no Instagramming, no Snapchatting, no LinkingIn, no Soundclouding, nothing of those things. And if she had even heard those words in 1978, chances are, unless she was a clairvoyant or an ICT expert who had insight into the impending internet revolution, those terms would have been utterly meaningless to her as they would have been to the rest of us. Some of us might look back to those halcyon social-media-free-zone days of 1978 and wonder whether the social media revolution that’s been transforming (or wrecking, or salvaging – take your pick) our lives since then is all it’s cracked up to be.

No, chances are she would have had to rely on the good old-fashioned form of the call out – the Word of Mouth. Perhaps she also took some inspiration from the Christopher Whall window in St. Nicholas Church, which tells the story of the Annunciation, made by Christopher Whall as a tribute to the memory of Kathleen Elizabeth Clements, wife of the rector for the Church who died on April 18, 1920.

The Annunciation is the moment when the Archangel Gabriel pops down from on high and proclaims to Mary that she is going to give birth to the son of God, some time soon. It’s quite a pronouncement, the mother of all ‘calls to action’ you might think. You also wonder if the Archangel Gabriel had had access to the internet, whether he too would have resorted to tweeting about his proclamation umpteen times (firstly to tell people he was going to make it, secondly to tell them he was doing it and thirdly to tell them he’d done it.)

But putting Archangel Gabriel’s call to action aside for one moment, however Joyce Ashton undertook her labour of food love, she clearly heeded her call to action and proceeded to produce a book that has lasted nearly 30 years, and continues to enlighten us about the food loves and lives of the people of Barkston.

Thanks to Carrie James, Faith Ballaam, John Crozier, Revd. Stuart Hadley, Richard Shireby and Cora Townson for their help making my visit to Barkston and Marston so memorable this morning.

(Thanks Mrs Priestley too, your Chocolate Crunch recipe went down a treat tonight.)