Sunday, May 22, 2011

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).

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