Friday, November 16, 2012

St Catherine, Leigh, Glos

Mr Neil had definitely been here before. West tower, nave and chancel in one with south porch and south transept. A niche on the west face of the tower has a headless statue of St Catherine, her wheel clearly shown. Inside the view east was blocked by a large Union Jack inspired banner and below three large crosses on stands decorated with poppies. Mr Neil posted pictures from here with a load of paper angels suspended in the chancel in the past. So it seems the locals like to decorate their church for special occasions. Benches have been removed in the front half of the nave and replaced with royal blue chairs. Lovely glass in south transept by Mayer & Co.

When we came out the sun was trying to break through the cloud, but there was less than an hour of daylight left so we called it a day. By the time I was back on the M5 the low sun had fully broken out and I was driving into it for lengthy periods.

St Mary, Prior's Norton, Glos

Listed in BofE as plain Norton, the church is on a rise east of the main A38. Locked but keyholder listed. There is nowhere to park at all without blocking the road, so risked parking in someone's large forecourt. Mr Neil began to feel he had been here before (but knowing him he never went inside as he doesn't like hunting down keys!). Perp west tower, nave, S porch and chancel. A little dull and over-restored. Handsome shafted east window, earliest Dec, of two lights, and clearly original. There is a coffin lid under the tower, nothing else to report.

St Lawrence, Sandhurst, Glos

A sizable village on the banks of the Severn at the end of a no through road. Small medieval west tower, the rest rebuilt although some of the nave south windows could be "restored" (they are irregular). Long nave, north aisle, timber framed S porch and chancel. Inside there is a Jacobean pulpit, rather ugly. The font is another lead one, but this one is late C12, and one of six in Gloucestershire cast from the same mould.

St Matthew, Twigworth, Glos

A large Victorian church of various dates with a thin tower and spire. Locked as Cameron said it would be. Two C/W phone numbers listed, two C/W phones went unanswered.

St Mary & Corpus Christi, Down Hatherley, Glos

Late Perp west tower, the rest rebuilt 1859-60. It was locked, a change from Cameron's map - but the only one. A quick call to the C/W and we were inside. Not large particularly, but with some ornate detail. I was taken by a pair of windows by A L Moore in the north aisle, a WW1 memorial. However the chief object of interest here is the lead font, one of eight in Gloucestershire, and the latest of them all, C16.

Holy Trinity, Badgeworth, Glos - 2

Realisation dawned that the north aisle is a treasure of the C14, the west and north windows with superb double ballflower decoration (medieval glass remains in the tracery), the roof with small standing figures, bosses and remarkable detailing of the tie beams with small shafts in wood. The nave roof is also in part medieval and both roofs have ceilures over the east bays. Disappointing east wall to the aisle with a large plain Perp window, which cannot be the original design. Outside again in the rain we walked around to see the exterior of the aisle; remarkably the windows have the same ball flower decoration outside and there is a very ornate doorway.

Holy Trinity, Badgeworth, Glos - 1


From the lychgate you approach the church from the east and a path leads round to the south side of the church. The rain made us duck inside sharpish. The nave is remarkably wide and has a north aisle of three bays and a south porch, as well as a Perp west tower with panelled battlements.  

The chancel is Victorian, by the exuberant John Middleton who did much in nearby Cheltenham, and we had seen nothing so far other than restored detail. Middleton's chancel is notable for the huge corbels which support the roof and some remarkable sculpted heads. Not much else, a displaced sundial on the sill of an aisle window, an Elizabethan Commandments board inscribed to Queen Elizabeth, and several baroque hanging monuments on the west walls. The pulpit is Jacobean and was in Newington Bagpath church until 1976.

St Andrew, Churchdown, Glos

Mr Neil and myself met up for a fairly local crawl on Monday. I picked him up from Thornbury at around 1015 and we headed north on the M5 four junctions in heavy rain. I had proposed starting at Churchdown, between Gloucester and Cheltenham, and I had written down a list of other churches which for some reason I had never ever visited in the same area. These lie in the triangle of land east of the River Severn between Gloucester Cheltenham and Tewkesbury. To my surprise Mr Neil had almost the same list of churches still to visit, so game on! The weather forecast did not auger well but it dried up after lunch although remained cloudy. Cameron's locking maps suggested only one locked church without keyholder. None of these churches had anything special to see architecturally, in fact a tribute to the Victorian over-restorers seemed to be the order of the day. There was however to be one surprise, plus a couple of unusual fonts to enjoy.

Both of us had independently set off in the past to come to Churchdown, and both of us had never got here. I discovered why on Google, as you have to drive along the A40 towards Gloucester and double back on yourself. I had also discovered that the parish office is open most mornings so getting in was on the cards, as was I hoped getting into St Bartholomew's church high on the hill (you may have seen an illuminated cross on the hillside from the M5 travelling in the dark). St Andrew is the replacement in the village, now low lying and by the railway. The church has spent a serious amount of cash on recent improvements here and we walked into a swish reception area. Our luck was out for St Bartholomew though as the chap who would have been free with the key was away on holiday, and Mondays was not a good day for anyone else. However at least we both know where to come.
St Andrew is a late replacement for the old church, dating from 1903-4. A porch was added in 1964, and is now rather redundant since the new hall and rooms were added to the south side very recently. There has also been a reordering of the interior and the altar is placed in the centre of the north side of the nave with the seating arranged around it. The chancel now contains elevated seating, maybe the posh seats? There are some interesting windows, more for their subject matter. Three lancets have historical tableaux, two with scenes remaining a mystery to me! Two Hardman lancets in the sanctuary show St Oswald King of the Northumbrians and Aethelflaed "Lady of the Mercians". Obviously Churchdown identifies strongly with Gloucester's history.

Friday, November 02, 2012

SS Cyril & Methodius (sv Cyrila a Metodeje), Nove Mesto, Prague

A few metres east and on the other side of the road from sv Vaclav, this church was rebuilt 1730-36 to the designs of Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer on a medieval site. It was originally dedicated to St Charles Borromeo, but it became disused and was bought by the Czech Orthodox Church and is now their cathedral. In 1942 it became a place of refuge for the seven Czech secret agents involved in the assassination of Reinhardt Heydrich. The Waffen SS besieged the church for six hours and the agents committed suicide here in the crypt. There is apparently an exhibition here and the church was supposed to be open from 10am but sadly I found it locked.

St Wenceslas (Sv Vaclav), Resslova, Zderaza, Prague

The last full day in Prague and a day of mixed fortune for accessing churches. This was the first, a church which is largely medieval and incorporating some Romanesque work. It is oddly placed high above the street level. It was built as a friary church but when the buildings were turned into a prison in 1809 it was used as the prison chapel. Following the provision of a new prison the monastic buildings were demolished but the church was rescued by the Czechoslovak Church Congregation and reopened in 1929. It was locked.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Prague by night

This holiday was my first real trip with my new camera and I was very pleased with the results. On returning from Kutna Hora we went for a curry (yes I know, but it is like an addiction for me) in the Old Town and then I had the opportunity to try some night photography.

I did not think these would be very good, so I was surprised to see the results when I got home! Most of these structures have appeared in my previous posts with the exception of the National Theatre and a row of illuminated penguins!