Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blessed Virgin Mary, Woolavington, Somerset

This picture shows the west end of the church, the tower space. Ignoring the new carpet and chairs (installed earlier this year in place of Victorian pine benches), the tower has four C13 arches, and these have been blocked. There must have been plans for or former nave and transepts, making this a central tower. For what ever reason plans failed and the present church of nave and chancel constructed. Well - that too is problematic as the chancel has lancets (most now Victorian) and hidden now by the new toilet extension the nave has remains of a Norman north doorway above the Gothic one. (The new extension here replaced an external boiler house, and saw the doorway here unblocked again for the first time in hundreds of years). So was this a planned grander rebuilding of the earlier church which was never realised? Of the rest, the interior is scraped, there are a few minor memorials and a Perp font. Pevsner misses the Elizabethan panelling in the pulpit and the panelled south door with original ironwork and he does not mention the final mystery found on the sill of a chancel window. Here is the head of a man, possibly a priest, too large for a corbel and more likely the head of a lost effigy. It was dug up in a field, when houses were being built in what is now Priory Close. Local lore says this was the site of a former priory which this head would seem to add credence to, but historical records show no such foundation existed here in Woolavington. More likely I guess is that it came from this church or churchyard. The fact it was buried has preserved its remarkable detail.

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