Some years it seems as if spring will never show it’s glowing face but what glorious spring sunshine we have been enjoying during February. Inspired by the lovely weather some friends and I went for a jaunt up on to Dartmoor. We visited St. Raphael’s Chapel situated in the beautiful hamlet of Huccaby on Dartmoor, it truly is a place of peace and tranquility. Surrounded by the graceful white beauty of arching snowdrops in glorious drifts and buzzing with bees tucked neatly inside their blossoms, collecting some of the first pollen and nectar available to them this year.
Snowdrops are bulbous perennial flowers that are easy to grow year after year once they are established. Since they are blooming at a time in many areas when not much else is available, this gives bees and native pollinators a fresh source of nectar and pollen in late winter before spring has officially sprung. Honey bee colonies at this time are actively raising brood and eating through their pollen stores from the previous year, so access to fresh pollen to make bee bread, which they feed to their increasing number of young, is very helpful for them. In some locations, this may be the only food source available to them at this time of year.
A Fresh Appreciation of Nature
Whenever you notice the beauty of God’s natural creation around you and sense an urge to take good care of it, Raphael may be nearby, say believers. Raphael is passionate about convincing people to pursue healing not only for themselves but also for the Earth’s environment.
St. Raphael’s Chapel is a fascinating place to visit, built in 1868 as a combined chapel and schoolroom, it has the distinction of being the only Anglican chapel in the country to be dedicated to the Archangel St. Raphael. His name means ‘God’s Healing’ or ‘God has healed’ and he was one of the archangels who stood before the throne. He is also known as the patron saint of travellers.
However, the weather conditions on Dartmoor are harsh and the building requires constant care and maintenance. The Chapel raises funds by the sale of pens, St Raphael’s angels and cards. In February and March there is an amazing display of snowdrops in the church grounds. Many visitors make generous donations when they go to see the snowdrops, and they also offer snowdrops in pots which make a lovely gift for Valentine’s Day.
The snowdrops are only in bloom for around 3 weeks but the Chapel is so tranquil and interesting if you have the opportunity it is well worth a visit and there is a lovely picnic spot just below Huccaby Bridge, complete with a little river beach, who could resist dipping your toes in the river?