Tuesday, May 24, 2011

St Mary, Kyre Wyard, Worcestershire

With the SatNav armed again for Ledbury station we realised that we would not get there in time for the first train and there would be a longish wait for the next one for Aidan on a station without facilities. So what better than another church to pass the time? So we stopped at Kyre (or more formally Kyre Wyard) church. It is an odd church, nave and chancel, with a large south chapel which has a timber belfry and spire on its west end. A small cloister like walk from the timber west porch connects the church to the big house next door, Kyre Park. Entry was via the chapel's west door, and this chapel is almost a seperate building. One arch into the nave, now partly blocked by a screen and doorway. On the splay of the SW chapel window a medieval wall painting of a female saint. One Norman window in the north wall of the nave, but the norman chancel arch was removed in 1833-34. Mid C18 communion rail and a couple of classical wall memorials in the chancel. I also noted one of the more unusual kneelers I have seen, from Dick.
I was a little concerned to get Aidan to the station because if he missed the next train he would have to wait 90 minutes for the next one so I forgot to take pictures of the strange glass by E R Suffling in the chapel's east window. We got there with 15 minutes to spare. Mr Neil and I reflected on a good day - not one church defeated us. Ten churches, seven open, two with keyholders also accessed, and one fenced-off ruin. Add to that great company, a lovely meal (thanks Neil) and a tasty Shropshire Lad (pint of! Thanks Aidan) at The Royal Oak, Bromyard Downs and I was well satisfied with the whole day.  

St Michael, St Michaels, near Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire

I had only the two targets for the day, Brockhampton and St Michaels, although as time progressed I wondered if we were going to get here! Often included in books under Tenbury Wells, but it is about two miles from there. It is a new build of 1854-56 by Henry Woodyer, built as a parish church and collegiate chapel for the adjoining Choral School founded at the same time (closed 1985 and now a school). Only one walk of the cloisters was contructed and the tower was never constructed. You would never know from the outside that a tower was planned unless the NW porch was to be continued up as a tower. However the nave does appear to be proportionally short and the west bay is narrower than the other three. Whilst Aidan went to track down the key (entry is via a small door where the cloister adjoins) Mr Neil and I explored the exterior and I almost got flattened by two different cars whizzing by "out of nowhere" although my looking back at the building sizing up a shot probably contributed! The proch has two four light windows with stained glass, a lavish arrangement for what are rally exterior windows as the porch has no external doors. These are in fact the only windows in the church not by Hardman, here being by Lavers and Westlake.

Armed with the key we entered into a sacristy which had a little passage with lancet windows behind the organ into the church. These windows are all filled with fragments of medieval stained glass but with little recognisable features, mainly patterned. Entering into the church my jaw fell open. The church is very lofty and has a wooden groined vault. The glass glowed, and the west window is superb. Turning around and looking towards the apsidal chancel, my mouth remained open - not sure how many times I said WOW!
There was one more surprise too, almost hidden from view until you enter the north transept is the font with an amazing floor to roof wooden cover. The south transept is completely filled by the organ which has four manuals. Again the apse windows have wonderful glass with tall angel figures, one restored by Aidan apparently. The fittings are all of high quality, even the benches have pierced backs. To have not seen the interior would mean missing one of the best victorian interiors in Britain - and I am sure that happens to many visitors who arrive here and try the porch door, missing the smaller entrance "around the back". Many more would be put of by getting a key, but not the committed churchcrawlers. Come here, and pray the keyholder is at home!

St Michael, Bockleton, Worcestershire


Just a place on the OS Map heading north, and we could not understand why it was not listed in the book on Herefordshire churches we had with us. Eventually it clicked that we must have crossed into Worcestershire, but the OS Map Aidan was using had no county boundary shown and therefore dates from when the two counties were united as one. Anyhow the clue was there staring us in the face as this sort of screen affair to the Norman doorway is a Worcs feature, and here both doorways have it. The tall and over-large Norman side windows to the nave must surely be an alteration. C13 chancel and north chapel of c1560 for the Barneby family. Inside a fantastical wooden screen seperates the nave from the chancel; it is by Woodyer as is the large east window filled with Kempe glass of 1906. Pretty stone font with heads and cusped arcading also Woodyer but quality work. Dumpy arcade to the chapel, but as you pass through the screen you spot the ornate monument to Robert d1597 and Mary d1574 Barneby made in 1594 by the dutchman Gerard Holleman. To the west of this a very good Victorian memorial to William Wolstenhulme Prescott d1865 signed by Thomas Woolner 1867. It has a peaceful effigy of the young man who contracted a fever and died after tending to his dying gamekeeper, a seen shown in the panel on the tomb chest. Finally a mention for the tower, an odd C17 or C18 affair with a crude Y-traceried west window.

Monday, May 23, 2011

St Anne, Thornbury, Herefordshire

St Anne's church is situated in a very well-kept churchyard, and has another of the local low bulky unbuttressed towers which we were seeing a lot today! The church was once larger, as can be seen by the blocked three bayed C13 south arcade. The porch and its doorway are Victorian, presumably by Kempson who rebuilt the chancel in 1865. However on the north side of the nave is a blocked Norman doorway with a blank tympanum. Inside there is a Norman font decorated with lozenges but not a lot else of note. However I did like the four-bayed Gothic board with the Lords Prayer, Commandments and Creed on the north side of the nave, as well as the glass in the east window with central figure of Moses and flanking willowy angels with wings so small they would never have carried them off! For Mr Neil it was also a little odd as he had started his day in Thornbury, not here but the Gloucestershire one!

St Michael, Edwyn Ralph, Herefordshire

Pevsner calls the place Edvin Ralph but all the signs and maps have this as Edwyn Ralph. The church is over restored but preserves some Norman and EE features. It would be fairly dull if it were not for the collection of stone effigies gathered under the tower where appreciation of them and photography is very difficult. Two of them must belong to the recesses which still survive on the north side of the chancel. Pevsner states "excellent monuments now disgracefully placed under the tower" and I have to agree. One of the monuments is in miniature. Sadly my pictures are as disappointing as the siting. The south sanctuary window shows a St Mary looking very fed up .

Sunday, May 22, 2011

St Mary, Edvin Loach, Herefordshire

The new church is by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and was built in the 1860s. It features for some reason in books on Victorian architecture, but was to me a rather ordinary affair with the exception of the west end of the church which embraces the tower and the inside of the east wall of the tower rests on fat columns giving a tripartite arrangement. Several of the archive photos on display at the west end were off for restoration according to the notes left in their place.

Old Church of St Mary, Edvin Loach, Herefordshire

Down a bumpy track off the road but thankfully there was a car parking area for turning round. These ruins stand to the east of the present church and are fairly featureless apart from a long wall of herringbone masonry and a south door with a worn tympanum. The most puzzling feature was in the south west corner of the nave where a solid block of masonry jutted into the nave and appeared to be buttressed with a sloping wall. A sign had fallen by the car park saying Welcome to the Saxon Church or some such thing, but Early Norman would be as far as I would go with what we saw.

New Chapel, Brockhampton-by-Bromyard, Herefordshire

This church is set on National Trust property, and as we went down the drive sure enough the payment booth came before the chapel. I explained to the chappie that we only wanted to visit the church and he told us where to park and did not charge us. It wasn't until we had parked that I realised the car was sporting the current year's NT car park sticker so no wonder we were waived through. This small Gothick church is right by the drive before the house and gardens. The medieval chapel ruins are further into the estate.

The church dates from c1798 and always has been privately owned. Surprisingly it was locked despite the house and gardens being open, but a sign said to call the warden who if free would be happy to unlock the church for visitors. Aidan duly rang him and he was there ten minutes later despite being frightfully busy. So it was a surprise once inside that he launched into an expanive account of the history of the church and its status in the Anglican Communion but outside of the control of the Bishop of Hereford. The vicar at nearby Bromyard celebrates in the church, although services are now once a month. The estate owner left the church to the local people by name. The interior is pretty, with a plaster vault and seating arranged in College Chapel fashion. It has some gloomy stained glass in greens yellows and browns (Powells on the south side to match the east window by some Lady Artist - only her fourth ever window and unsigned: hopefully Aidan will remind me who it was. There were two exceptions, one a window by Wailes (attribution Aidan) in the SE corner, the other the former east window now reduced from three to two lights in the SW corner part hidden behind the west gallery. It shows The Transfiguration after Raphael and the face of Christ is truely outstanding. The Warden, depsite saying how much he still had to do, continued to tell us much more than we could remember, and was cautious about photographs but in the end said as long as we stated he had given his permission then that would be OK. I gratefully acknowledge his permission here.

Reply from Aidan (as hoped)
The east window here was an early work by Mary Lowndes (of Lowndes & Drury) but one she didn't sign as she wasn't happy with it according to our highly learned friend! A somewhat dull Victorian piece compared to her more developed Arts & Craft style (best seen at Dormington some way to the south).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

St Mary, Avenbury, Herefordshire

Ignoring the warning about viperous adders we set off along a track and were quickly at the ruins of this church. Surprisingly it has only become a ruin in the C20. What still stands is the bulk of the west tower and the extremely hazardous east end of the chancel. The porch, north aisle and the nave have largely gone. When Cameron was here he managed to explore the ruins but today the whole site is surrounded by fencing and barbed wire. Pevsner mentions that there was also an incised slab to a knight - I wonder if it is still amongst the undergrowth or has been removed for safe keeping.

St James, Stanford Bishop, Herefordshire

Continuing from Frome's Hill, we visitied a church which Aidan and I had omitted from our tour last year. Mr Neil spotted a sign pointing up to the church from the "main" road and we duly turned around and took it. As i got out a black labrador dog had followed the car all the way up the lane to the church, took one look at me as if to check what we had come for and set off back down the lane! Broad rectangular unbuttressed west tower, a norman south dooray but otherwise only a nave and chancel. No chancel arch but instead the roofs change in their construction. Panelled classical pulpit and a font plain and probably Norman. Over the doorway but inside the church is an odd head - why is it placed here?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

St Matthew, Frome's Hill, Herefordshire

This church was handily sited en route to our next target - so we stopped. Not large, nave with south porch and west bellcote and a chancel with vestry to the north. It is not listed in Pevsner (yet), and is not a listed building (yet). Little information online at all, so the church looks to be 1860s but could be earlier or later. Recently stained glass by Nicola Hopwood has been installed in the apse windows (date of deceased's death 2007) and the original plain panels of quarries still survive in the nave neatly stacked! Any further details gratefully received.

POSTSCRIPT - Thanks to Marion who informs me the church was built 1864-66 to the designs of F R Kempson.

Holy Trinity, Bosbury, Herefordshire

Timings of departure were dictated by Aidan's train's arrival at Ledbury station at 0907. He rang me as he walked out of the station to ask how far away we were to which I answered 30 seconds! After introductions were made with Mr Neil we set off north and I decided to stop first at Bosbury, last visited by me with my late mother, and a chance to consult the map. The church is characterised by two things, a bulky detached tower south of the church and an exuberant fan-vaulted late Perp side chapel. Otherwise much of the church is transitional Norman. Two exuberant monuments in the chancel sanctuary, on the south a classy affair to John Harford (I particularly liked the lion feet - see photo) 1575, the other c1580 to Richard Harford and wife is much more rioutous and entertaining with a confusion of details lacking sophistication, and the two effigies giving the appearance that she is cuddling him. We debated the screen, whether any of it is old, despite all authotities agreeing it is.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Annunciation, Bryanston Street, Marble Arch, London

A few stops east of Notting Hill Gate on the Central Line and I emerged from Marble Arch tube station, turned thrice left and I was at the chief target for the day, Sir Walter Tapper's 1911 church of the Annunciation. It is not as large as it appears in photos, but is very lofty. Tapper gave the church double north aisles but there is no south aisle, just blank walling below the triforium stage. The church's website advertises the church as open daily, it was, but my visit was confined to the west end behind and iron grille. The history and guidebook were tantalisingly out of reach. I seem fated to not look around this church, the last time I was in London it was shut because the verger was away on holiday. Maybe today he had popped out for a late lunch. Still the church impressed but I would have liked to wander around and admire the changing vistas and see the detailing and fittings up close.