Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Berkshire/Oxon Sunday Morning - 4

Bampton - Church of St Mary
Originally uploaded by ChurchCrawler.

I had planned only one stop but all that had gone before was a result of arriving much earlier than expected! And the next church was it. As I approached this one, I lost count of the greetings I had from members of the congregation, and even a big welcome by the stragglers still in the church as I arrived.

BAMPTON, Oxon, St Mary
is awesome, and one of the most interesting churches I have visited for some time. Cruciform with a tall central tower and spire, and in the corners instead of pinnacles are statues of the Evangelists (one replaced c1990 after the original St John was blown down in a storm in 1989 - it is inside the church in the north aisle and is very weathered). In the NW angle and best viwed from outside the north aisle is a large seperate square stair turret rising well above the roofline and of considerable antiquity - Saxon likely. Ornate west portal, with ballflower and rosette decoration and two image niches in the shallow splays of the side walls. Inside all apart from the chancel is scraped and until Ewan Christian was let loose here 1867-9 there was a C15 clerestory on the nave. The low crossing really splits of the chancel from the nave, and indeed the altar for usual services is sited here. The east arch is ancient and sited under an EE three stepped arch; ancient too is the base of the stair turret which almost blocks the east end of the north aisle: and there are traces of blocked arches or windows in both transepts. The south transept has an unusually small Perp south window, the north much more normal. In the south transept is the beautiful Gothick organ case and by it the door to the choir vestry with some very ornate cartouches, in stark contrast to Mary Crofft's memorial mounted on the west wall of the transept's western aisle. In contrast the north transept has chapels to the east side. The chancel seems rebuilt but has interesting features possibly reset - the corbel table outside looks a C19 invention, certainly on the north where everything is crisply and regularly carved, but the south may be in part original. Most notable is the reredos, Christ flanked by the apostles six per side. Below two arched aumbries or shrine low down behind the altar. A large floor to ceiling Easter Sepulchre on the north side of the sanctuary, late Perp, and triple sedilia and piscina with good head corbels and detailing on the south side. Against the crossing arch are return stalls, two seats each with misericords. Brasses are set in the chancel floor, monuments in both transepts, an ornate Norman doorway .........and so the list goes on. Come here and see it if you can for yourself. I cannot believe that anyone would go away dissatisfied!

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