Sunday, June 22, 2008

St Mary, Emborough, Somerset

I was last here around the time the church became redundant and vested in what is now the Churches Conservation Trust. The church is today in a far better state than it was then but the forlorn state that characterises several of the CCT's churches I have visited is also found here. Here is another central tower, although a humble one, with a nave and north aisle to the west and a small chancel to the east. Inside there is a west gallery, and fittings of c1800.

Church of SS Peter & Paul, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

The nave is much narrower than the aisles (which must have had galleries) and crowned by one of the most amazing roofs in England, a wagon roof with ten rows of small panels, each intersection with bosses. Elegant stone pulpit of c1530 makes use of the rood stairs. Two late C13 knights with shields lie on the sills of the east and west window of the north aisle. A brass plate to the C17 Strode family has a central figure of death aiming a spear at the kneeling wife. Alongside the slightly comical bust of Edward Barnard d1641.

Church of SS Peter & Paul, Shepton Mallet, Somerset 1/2

I have not been here for 40 years, well I have but always found the church locked until today. A sign outside proclaims it is usually open 1000-1500. Shepton lies in a dip, and I do not find the town particularly attractive either. That's a shame because the church is interesting and repays a visit.
Grand west tower of Somerset type, the rest externally appears C19 both Georgian and Victorian. No porch, entry via the tower, and there is a good fan-vault high over your head.

St Mary Magdalen, Ditcheat, Somerset 3/4

The interior of the chancel

St Mary Magdalen, Ditcheat, Somerset

The mural depicting St Christopher
(see below)

St Mary Magdalen, Ditcheat, Somerset 2/4

Fan vaulting under the tower, and an excellent Somerset tie-beam roof in the nave. In the north aisle is a richly coloured wall painting of St Christopher of c1500. Rich Jacobean pulpit and reading desk, probably once part of a single ensemble. Now Pevsner I feel must have been on the sherry again, as he completely muddles up two different monuments into a single one he describes; there is an C18 memorial with the bust of a woman on top, and a memorial signed by Ford with the relief of a weeping woman as he describes. I did not see the C14 priest's effigy under an ogee canopy he writes about, nor does it appear in my pics, unless it was hidden in the north transept behind the organ. Also in the church the head of a C15 churchyard cross (S transept)

St Mary Magdalen, Ditcheat, Somerset 1/4

This is a grand church, packed with interest, and one which is not very well known, as main roads pass the village by today. It is cruciform, with a central tower and fine detailing. Perp clerestory to the nave and chancel, the windows of the latter below being Dec like the east window and all with internal cusped arches.

Holy Trinity, Wyke Champflower, Somerset 2/3

Away from the main road, and away in fact from any road. It is attached like a private chapel to the rear of The Manor House, reached by a stroll down the drive to the house and veering off along a path to the left. All that can be seen of the church on the approach is the small bell turret peeping over the house roof, like a miniature tower with four tiny angle pinnacles. The room over the north porch must be part of the house. The church was built 1623-4 and the interior is a delight.

Holy Trinity, Wyke Champflower, Somerset 3/3

The division between nave and chancel is a wooden tympanum painted with the Royal Arms and the arms of the then Bishop of Bath & Wells (l) and Archbishop of Canterbury (r) and dated 1624. Jacobean pews complete with hatpegs and an incongrous super-sized stone Elizabethan pulpit, which was placed here in 1624 but said to have been originally elsewhere. The font dates from 1945 but the cover was returned to the rebuilt church in 1623. This church beats Chesterblade into second place as my favourite of the day, and this was my first visit.

Holy Trinity, Wyke Champflower, Somerset 1/3

Spot the church! No wonder I had to ask directions......

St James, Milton Clevedon, Somerset 2/2

A surprise inside is that the tower internall is five sided, like a west apse, and here hang two rather fine wall monuments. Glass of 1997 in the north transept, not bad actually, although I have no idea what it is supposedly depicting (if it were a religeous story I would have said Jack and the Beanstalk!). A closer look reveals that the glass in the tracery is medieval. The oldest monument is on the north side of the sanctuary in a recess, a stone effigy of a priest, recut.

Church of SS Mary & John, Lamyat, Somerset

The church is a little puzzle for one reason. Let me set the scene, it is not a large church, small plain west tower, three bayed Perp nave and lower single-bayed chancel. Inside a panelled chancel arch and a principle roof with tie-beams which may in part be original. So it is a surprise to find that this church has two porches, and not only that but that they both have stone vaulting. There is also an odd little pipe organ, a sort of overgrown harmonium but with all the pipes arranged on top or behind and without a case to contain them.

St James, Milton Clevedon, Somerset 1/2

At the end of a road, through a farmyard and at the side of a country track, lies this interesting church, probably largely C15 but altered and partly rebuilt in the C18 and C19. It is basically a west tower and aisleless nave and chancel, with transepts off the nave, and an odd appearance thanks to the large south porch which adjoins the similar sized transept.

St Peter, Evercreech, Somerset 3/3

St Peter, Evercreech, Somerset

I came here aged 9 or 10 with my great uncle. I remembered a grand church in the Somerset tradition but with galleries inside over the aisles. The church is quite a size but its proportions make it appear larger than it actually is, tall narrow four bayed clerestoried nave and narrow aisles, and yes the galleries are still there. Oddly though, no porch, the entrance being through the fabulous perfectly proportioned tower. Inside the other principle feature is the nave roof, with tie beams and angels, but principally remembered for being brightly coloured, frowned on today but how many of our medieval interiors must have been.

St Peter, Evercreech, Somerset 2/3

An amusing gargoyle

St Mary, Chesterblade, Somerset

In stark contrast to many Somerset churches, is this very picturesque and humble chapel, on a hill in the centre of the village. It is really a single chamber with a lower shallow east sanctuary (to call it a chancel would give a false impression!) and a south porch which is larger than the chancel. No tower but a small bellcote over the west end. The S doorway is very similar to the doorway at Doulting and has a C15 niche interrupting the hood mould with a statue of the Virgin which Pevsner suggests is C17, but I would have said it was probably C20! And that's about it really, yet it is probably the one of two churches in this tour which had the most impact on me.

St Aldhelm, Doulting, Somerset

A very picturesque church, with its octagonal central tower and spire, and one which I had never been to before, although I thought I had. It is all a bit of a fake, being almost completely rebuilt by the Victorians but they did largely rebuild what was there already so the spirit of the design is old, as well as some interior details being original. The church is cruciform and aisleless, and there are a number of fine grotesques and gargoyles. The nave has north and south porches, the splendid south porch with its fan faulting being locked chained and padlocked. Pevsner descibes this in detail and even has an illustration in BofE, yet it is C19, and an improved design to the original; much of the original porch stonework is built into the wall of the Old Vicarage. The north porch is the main entrance and shelters a late Norman doorway. From west to east the church appears internally all C19, the crossing is rib-vaulted and there is a fancy wooden Gothic screen. It is the transepts that seem old, and the roofs of both are indeed original C15 with ornate tie-beams, bosses and winged angels carrying shields. The font too is retooled and improved but is C15 with panelled stem and demi-figures of angels around the base of the bowl.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

St James. East Cranmore, Somerset

1846 by T H Wyatt, and now a house. Nave with south transept, and chancel with north transeptal bay. Small tower and spire in the angle of nave and S transept, doubling as a porch.

St Bartholomew, West Cranmore, Somerset 2

The arcade has one stone angel on the third pier. The south window of the nave has glass by Cakebread, Robey & Co of Stoke Newington, which is a firm I have never heard of before. Better the glass in the east window with deep blues, 1844 according to Pevsner. Pulpit with Jacobean panels and some minor monuments.

St Bartholomew, West Cranmore, Somerset 1

came here a very long time ago, it was nearly dark and the church was open and my memory was of an uninteresting church so I have never come back until today. OK it is not one of the wonders of architecture but it does have a solid "Somerset" tower complete with fan vault, and a nave and north aisle, S porch, and chancel with north bay. Under the tower four well-preserved hatchments.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Former Chapel, Waterlip, Somerset

This chapel is now a house - "Georges' Corner" - , but was built in 1874 for the Primitive Methodists.
I had never heard of this small place before - it is in the hills to the east of Shepton Mallet.

St John the Baptist, Farrington Gurney, Somerset 2

Here is a shot of the interior looking back towards the tower and entrance.

St John the Baptist, Farrington Gurney, Somerset

"1843 by Pinch. Very dull neo-Norman with square Norman W tower" is all it merits in the BofE's entry by Pevsner, and based on that some would say why bother? Well to us churchcrawlers any church is one to be visited, and if your expectations are low then a visit often repays. The church is not small and has nave and aisles with tall arcades inside, and a lower chancel. Four memorials brought from the old church, none of any importance (save to the families I suppose). Over the west door and missed by the master is a medieval statue, with what appears to be a depiction of the Trinity, with a seated figure of God holding his crucified son in his hands to my uneducated eye. Date possibly C13?