Bedlam is at the end of the road, but that’s the least of it.
Dominated by the mysterious Titterstone Clee Hill, Bedlam is a liminal place, a thin veil. It straddles the border between rolling fields and hills, and a wild eerie moorland of ancient quarries and radar domes. Beyond the fence is a playground for giants and fairies; where the devil makes seats out of large boulders and a black dog with red eyes wanders amongst the hollowed pits of the abandoned quarries. A small lonely church is only a mile or two back down the hill but its authority ran out a long time ago.
Fog forms quickly here, turning into a disorientating opaque dream that disappears telegraph poles, paths, trees, sense. If you are lost in the fog so everything else. You hope.
Today the Bedlam is bathed in glorious sunshine, in honour of the Royal Wedding. I wander through Bedlam, a little bibulous with cider and Cava.
The village has a war memorial in the form of a short stone Celtic cross standing next to a now-closed building, that may once have been a chapel. The door was open today, or maybe I’d just never noticed it before. I had a quick look inside. There was no sign of its previous purpose. Inside there was a gate with Dog on Duty inscribed across it. A hoover stood poised to pick up the dust and rubbish. Or perhaps it has been defeated by it. The room might almost have been cosy once with its armchairs, blue walls and fireplace.
What happened here? What did the old quarry workers of Bedlam use this building for? What are the clues to a story?
It’s too sunny for a mystery. I doze in a nearby field, listening to the sound of the wind in the trees and the call of sheep in the next field. Then I wander back home through the back lanes in the mellowing evening sun.
“Just as there is love at first sight between people, there is love at first sight between a person and a place. Most of the time, however, one must return and observe to know a place. Really strong places may open up only for a few hours a year.”
Václav Cílek, ‘The Rule of Return’