Thursday, October 06, 2005

Churches of Exmoor #5

The weather was warm enough to sit outside at Raleigh Cross. I cannot get enough of these new J2Os (Apple & Raspberry). The views towards the sea were stunning too, a pity that we were treated like aliens by the two ladies in the bar because we said "No thanks, we are not eating".
Travelling on we came to a fork in the road at Brendon Hill where there sits a bleak looking Methodist Chapel "Beulah" of 1861 seemingly (datestone). Yet the side walls look like Georgian Gothic. This is the highest place of worship on Exmoor, some 1250 feet above sea level. We quickly turned off and descended towards Treborough.

is an odd little building, its appearance dominated by the south tower with its Victorian top. The rest of the church has been thoroughly restored to the point of disinterest. There is not much in the way of fittings or memorials inside the church to detain you either, but the font is rather too ornate for the church with the usual panelled octagonal bowl resting on winged angels placed around the top of the panelled stem. It too is C19, but not the C15 pillar piscina in tthe chancel, which is almost certainly not in situ, as I cannot recall seeing one on the north side of the chancel, let alone outside of the sanctuary.
In the churchyard I was detained by two slate memorials, side by side and bizarrely commemorating the same person who died in his 20s in an accident at Treborough's slate quarry. The two dates of death are the same and both mention the slate quarry accident. I wondered which of the two plots he was actually in, unless the accident was so bad that he was in both................ooh, there's a horrible thought! Or is it evidence of a family feud? I'll get the headstone,.....No WE will get the headstone...... The one on the right has other family members added with a later addendum.

The road from Treborough drops steadily down towards Watchet and the sea, passing through Roadwater with both a Methodist and an Anglican church (St Luke) alongside the road, the former of 1815 but looking Victorian gothic, the other probably of the 1870s and looks like it may have been built as a school or hall originally. The next village reached was Washford, with the remains of Cleeve Abbey (don't worry - it comes later - wait for it!), and another mission church St Mary's which looks early C20 and on a bend in the main road from Bridgwater and Taunton to Minehead - I didn't stop.

is a very handsome C15 Perp church in the main, with a prominent tower. From the churchyard views sweep down to the sea at Minehead, with the hill which has the old village centre of Minehead as a backdrop. The white "sails" of Butlin's Holiday Camp are also clearly visible. It is difficult to leave this view and go inside but be assured it certainly repays a visit. Whitened walls and roofs contrast with the dark woodwork and ribs. The arches of the arcade almost seem to have ogee arches, strange! What does have an ogee arch is the tomb recess in the centre of the nave's north wall. Here lies the effigy of a Civilian, totally shrouded in plastic as English Heritage conserve the monument. Sadly I couldn't see the cat at his feet clearly and certainly missed the mouse which she has trapped by her paws. There are a couple of large handsome C17 and C18 wall memorials too. The roof of the south aisle has a very ornate wall plate with bands of foliage which I wondered if they came from former screens at Cleeve Abbey. There is also a very unusual brass lectern probably c1900?, a poor box dated 1634, and a good Perp font with Jacobean cover. All in all probably one of my favourite churches of the holiday.