Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Holy Cross, Ilam, Staffordshire

Situated in a lovely loop of the River Manifold as it heads towards a marriage with the River Dove at Thorpe. The scenery is stunning and Ilam itself is an estate village for the most part. The church lies on the lawn of Ilam Hall ( a rump of its former self , now a Youth Hostel, but owned and grounds managed by the National Trust). Lots of people out enjoying the parkland and walks, yet surprisingly I had the church pretty much to myself for the time of my visit. Parts of the church are medieval but you can be forgiven for thinking that the church is entirely C19, thanks to the energies of Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1855-56, and the colossal NE mortuary chapel of 1831. In the churchyard two Saxon cross shafts. The saddleback top to the tower is Scott's invention but it must ne C13 - see the lancet lower down.

The arcade is Scott's but the SE chapel is dated 1618  In the latter is the shrine of St Bertelin, just the base with open quatrefoils. Squeezed behind the organ is a splendid C17 monument with chest and two recumbent effigies and back wall under a canopy one large kneeling crowned lady and four (not three as Pevsner states) smaller frontally kneeling figures. It is a most unfortunately placed memorial which deserves a better position - the large kneeling lady looks at the corner of the chapel. Nothing to brace my erratically behaving camera on to get a decent picture of the whole, and the flash started to not fire at all, or randomly throw out either a blinding white light or next to nothing. The north chapel is a large vaulted octagon containing the tomb of David Pike Watts; the tableau presented, the work of Chantry 1831, is of him rising from his bed to greet his daughter and grand children, and it is subtlely lit from above. The chapel is locked off by a metal screen, so you can only see the scene as intended from the entrance and it is very very striking. The chief fitting to admire in the church proper is a superb Norman cauldron-shaped font, decorated with beasts and figures. [open]

1 comment:

  1. perfect place to have some wedding programs here! very elegant!