Thursday, May 21, 2009

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]

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