Thursday, May 21, 2009

Church Tower, Northwick, South Gloucestershire

The tower and churchyard are all that survives of the church of St Thomas, built 1842-3 to the designs of John Hicks, and a rather good Neo-Norman design. The tower has some quite entertaining grotesques.

Chapelry of St John, Aust, South Gloucestershire

I came here in 2000 with my 1 megapixel camera, and the pictures needed redoing! Stands right by the M48 (the old M4) close to the Severn Bridge Services. It did not become a parish church until 1954, prior to that it was a chapelry of Henbury church now within Bristol. Probably nearly all C15, with a long nave which has a good roof which is at least in part medieval. Pretty font with near-detached buttresses around the stem, pretty awful over elaborate (for this church) pulpit of 1866.
[Full set of pictures click here!]

All Saints, Compton Greenfield, South Gloucestershire

Most of the village has moved away to the east and the main road, to Easter Compton, and that was where a keyholder lived. Luckily there is a path across a green field as a short cut, because the church is reached by quite a roundabout route and has only one farm and its associated buildings for company. The principle interest however can be seen without the key, the fine Norman south doorway. The rest may be Norman in origin but all over restored or rebuilt apart fron the medieval tower. Scraped interior.
[Full set of pictures click here!]

St Mary, Almondsbury, South Gloucestershire

The church shouldn't work, but it does, cruciform and grouped around a central tower with a leaded spire, because the nave and aisles are late Georgian of 1836 by Thomas Fulljames, a hall church each with their own seperate hammerbeam roofs and sturdy arcades on tall circular columns. His too the tripartite traceried screen in the west crossing arch. Both transepts are screened off, the north to form a vestry behind the organ, the south by glazed screens to create a small flexible space. Both transepts have large monuments, the north hidden behind stacking chairs a standing monument to Thomas Chester d1763 with a mourning female and lengthy inscription listing his ancestory since 1600, the south a tomb chest with effigies and heavy canopy carried on eight columns to Edward Veele d1577 and wife. And finally there is the chancel, a beautiful vaulted room EE with good quality stiff-leaf capitals and head corbels to carry the shafts that support the vault. All restored it may be but it impresses me every time I see it
{Full set of pictures click here!]

St Mary, Almondsbury, South Gloucestershire

The next parish to Winterbourne, giving its name to the M4/M5 interchange, so admired by holidaymakers in the Summer that they stop for ages to view its component parts, although I suspect not by choice! This is one of my favourite SGlos churches, and as ever the church was open. OK it is not as "isolated" as Winterbourne, but a completely different attitude, and a lady was busy refreshing the floral displays and welcoming. She left shortly afterwards leaving me too it. There have been changes since I was last here, but all done in sympathy with the building. The church stands in what is called now Lower Almondsbury, as there is much Almondsbury high above spire level on the A38.

St Michael, Winterbourne, South Gloucestershire

Set away from the village centre on the hill, and clearly visible from the M4 motorway between the M32 and M5 junctions. Here is a church in a confused state, a churchyard board by a wooden seat (one of two) begins the story of the church for visitors. From this angle the best view of the church with its tall tower and spie in the south transeptal position, quite plain in reality which makes the two niches on the lower part of the buttresses seem a bit out of place. Much of the rest of the exterior is over restored. The south porch is open, and the stone seats festooned with leaflets and magazines, noticeboards left and right, as well as a further display about the features of the church and what to see inside of interest. The light inside (set amongst the odd C13 doorway) comes on automatically, All this seems quite new and different from my previous visits, the PCC here obviously has tourism in mind, so with confidence I grab the handle. Locked. I took a copy of the magazine and started working my way down the list of phone numbers. Finally I rang the "if you want a lift to church" number and a nice lady answered but at the same time a lady (already rung) turned up with a key. I rang off and this lady, a churchwarden, had just called in to drop off a pile of magazines into the church. She gave me a short time to snap away, so the visit and pictures were hastily composed and I hoped I had recorded everything. This lady asserted that Ecclesiastical had told them to keep the church locked, although she added "without someone present", and quoted the church's isolation as the reason. We debated the merits of locking and how this advice seemed to contradict my experience of Ecclesiastical's advice. So what did I take pics of? Worn effigies, tomb recesses, Gloucestershire's oldest brass, Wall Paintings under the tower, monuments and a Norman font, all too much for a five-minute visit and I am surprised not more of them are duff. [Full set of pictures here]

St Bartholomew, Tong, Shropshire

The misericord mentioned below.
For the complete set of pictures from Tong click this link

St Bartholomew, Tong, Shropshire

Now I had been here before, but Janet spotted this (how can you miss it by the main road?) and wanted to see it. Good choice, but I needed a long time to photograph all the church has - so maybe she regretted it! Some of my pics consequently were a bit hurried, but I am glad we stopped here too as it was more splendid and more interesting than I remembered. Cruciform, around a rather awkward tower, square below, octagonal above and with a short recessed spire. All Perp, C15 except for the exuberant "Golden Chapel" an outer bay to where one would expect a transept. Look a little closer and several of the pinnacles have been replaced by C18 obelisks! Inside and the architecture is really incidental to the many and varied tombs and effigies, and the splendid woodwork, of the chancel in particular. There is too much to describe in detail, but the highlights for me were the fan-vaulted golden chapel, and a precious survival on a misericord, a figure of the Virgin with a vase of lilies in which is a miniature Crucifixion scene.