St. Marple's Church provides an area of welcome shade from the heat of the day. The owner, who bought the derelict building some years ago, was thoughtful enough to provide an area of artificial garden amongst the faux tombstones and graves of famous writers. If you were unaware of the artistic nature on the building and grounds, you might be tempted to believe that Dante had been reunited with his beloved Beatrice, or Orpheus had left his homeland and brought the remains of Eurydice to a backwater of Wiltshire.
In this tiny garden of contemplation, just yards away from the bustling market square, a wall of ivy-covered stone surrounds carefully tended gardens of saxifrage and aquilegia, cornflowers and aubretia. At the backs of the borders delphiniums and foxgloves stretch toward the sun, shaded by cherry and silver birch and the gnarled, ancient yew that guards the entrance.
A fountain bubbles at the base of the war memorial, a natural spring piped through the wall of the church though a small plaque warns people not to drink from it. The memorial was constructed in the thirties, the first and last echo of Dada combined with Epstein's futurism to produce a statue made from the barrels of guns and shells recovered from the Somme. The locals shunned it for years, preferring the simple obelisk outside the church of St Pity's a mile to the east. Someone has wound ribbons around the gun barrel fingers, though they hang limply in the heat.
The bees hum around the freshly planted summer bedding. Ox-eye daisies and osteospermum compete for the few that have found the garden. I switch my phone off to give them a little peace.