Sunday, July 10, 2011

SS Peter & Paul, Blockley, Gloucestershire

This small town spreads on the steep sides of the valley with its church and centre on the western slopes. The church must have been very impressive at one time as there was once a large Norman church here, rebuilt on the site of an earlier Saxon minster. The chief survival is the chancel with side buttresses windows and corbel table, and a slightly later two storied vestry on the north side which seems to have reused the corbel table. This was joined to the aisle when the Rushout family created their mausoleum c1790. At the west end (and difficult to see behind much clutter) is a Norman doorway in situ, and the south door too has Norman features although altered in the C15. Masking the door is an C18 west tower, recalling Chipping Campden which is where the architect Thomas Woodward Sr was based. 

Inside the chancel has Norman responds now carrying a C14 arch, the same date as the fine east window which is similar to that at Barnack in the Soke seen at the AGM. The south wall of the nave is C15 with large windows but above in 1635-6 (dated internally) a clerestory was added, and this may be the date too of the upper windows of the aisle. The arcade could be C14 or c1635 like the north porch, but the flat nave ceiling may be of 1702.
There are a large number of monuments, the earliest a brass to a priest d1488 in the chancel floor. Another brass mentioned in Pevsner as being set in the back of the Dec sedilia is no longer there, possibly stolen. At the east end of the aisle steps lead up over the family vault to the Rushout chapel, the east wall of which is filled by an unusual memorial with four busts. In all a lot of interest and much to puzzle over in a building with a complex history. However the new benches and choir arrangement at the east end of the nave, the chairs in the chancel presumably now reduced to a weekday chapel, and the clutter at the west end of the nave (display stands, notice boards, a low level office(?) in the corner and organ opposite) take the edge of an otherwise interesting church.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Mission Church, Paxford, Gloucestershire

A small church of 1866, with chancel, bellcote, nave and SW porch. The entrance is on the east side of the porch over which is inscribed "Infant 1866 School". This one was locked but a shot through the window at the west end by holding up the camera to the window standing on tip-toe showed the west bay is screened off as a room from the rest. I decided not to pursue a key.

St Eadburgha, Ebrington, Gloucestershire

A long path leads to the church from the street, in fact vehicular access to it must be a problem. Much of what is seen today is the result of a very heavy restoration 1875-6, but nevertheless there is much to see here. West tower is Perp, the nave now largely C19 like the chancel but the porch and south aisle are C14. Ornate Norman south door, plainer blocked north door. C15 font, pulpit dated 1679 and a large lectern of a similar age but according to BoE is German. Royal Arms dated 1725 unusually has a latin and a greek inscription. 
In the chancel two notable monuments, the first coloured with a larger than life effigy on a tomb chest, with a cute little doggy, whereas the second is a hanging monument to Sir John Keyt d1662 and his wife d1669 with two busts but it is hard to say who is who! A third memorial on the south side of the sanctuary is a large standing architectural design with obelisks and coloured shields. The east window has glass  of 1964 by Christopher Webb in his insipid style, although it was unusual to see a chap in overalls boots and hard hat. 

St James, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

I walked back to the car eating an ice-cream. Somehow I walked into a low hanging branch and scratched my forehead. I followed a group of German ladies to the church where one seemed to be holding court to the other two, speaking twice as loud as she needed to. As they went into the church I walked around and did the exterior of this one of the grandest "wool churches" in the Cotswolds.

Although I had been here at least twice before I had never taken a series of photographs here. The church was all rebuilt in Perp times in a carefully crafted design. Having recently seen a surfeit of Saxon towers on the AGM weekend, I found myself reminded of them when I looked at the decoration of this tower. On entering through the C13 doorway (one of the few features earlier than c1450-1500) I was disappointed to hear the Frau was still talking at her friends, in fact she was stood on the steps of the south chapel with all the monuments whilst her companions were sat down in the aisle. The view from the door is a disappointing one, lots of blank wall and red carpet and a poor flat panelled wooden ceiling to the nave. However there is also a Cotswolds window over the chancel arch which improves things and the tall arcades are a masterpiece with a shallow arch rising from the piers to encompass the large four-light clerestory windows above. 
The principle feature inside are the monuments and brasses but there is also a very fine C17 pulpit and some good glass especially that of the east window (incorporating some medieval bits in the tracery) by Henry Payne 1923-4. 

Two monuments in the chapel are first rate, a canopied tomb chest with twelve black marble columns and two very detailed larger-than-life effigies of Sir Baptist Hicks Lord Campden d1629 and his wife. On the south wall Edward Noel Viscount Campden d1642, two shrouded upright effigies with the open doors of the tomb carrying the inscriptions.

St Catherine R C, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

The catholic church stands at the opposite end of the High Street to the parish church where I was parked. Somehow I had missed this interesting looking church on visits to Campden in the past, so this was the reason for coming here today. The church dates from 1891 and was designed by William Lunn of Malvern. Built of local ashlar stone, it is quite large with nave and aisles, chancel, a transeptal south chapel with tower to its east and a small north chapel. The style of the tracery is a Flamboyant/Perp mixture and no two windows are the same. The east window is a small roundel set over the reredos flanked by miniature two light transomed windows. Most of the stained glass is in keeping but the westernmost window of the north aisle has unfortunate glass, recently installed, of little merit,  and I forgot to photograph it!

Baptist Church, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

Built in 1872 to the designs of a local architect in Stratford on Avon, T T Allen. An excruciating Gothic church, willful and cheap, its only redeeming feature being it is in the local Cotswold stone. Apologetic saddle-back tower, the interior seemingly altered from the glimpses obtained through the lower windows although there still appears to be a gallery. The whole of the front's windows have been replaced in plain glass which further reduces any appeal the church may have had. Locked but I wasn't disappointed!

St Mary, Temple Guiting, Gloucestershire

Like Guiting Power I had never been here before, and this was one of the highlights of the day.  A small path leads to the church which is beautifully sited with open countryside to the south. The tower is very dominant and appears to be C17, certainly post Perp. The church is Norman as well in origin and the external walls of the chancel show this with corbel tables still in situ. The north wall also has remains of a trefoil headed lancet, a later Dec or C19 window and a blocked doorway (perhaps C15) all under the original Norman corbel table. The church was much rebuilt in Perp times but in the C18 the tracery was removed and the windows made Georgian; the north transept has a Venetian window.

Inside the nave preserves its C15 low-pitched roof, but there is much more of interest.

In a south window three panels of medieval glass, complete figures (St Mary Magdalen, St James the Less and St Mary the Virgin); several other windows from here are now to be seen in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

A much more recent window at the east end of the south wall is by Thomas Denny, 2009, an artist whose unique style I had admired before in Hereford Cathedral.  
Opposite over the north door are sited the recently restored boards from the former reredos, which used to stand under the tower.

Over the tower arch are some intricate plaster Royal Arms of George II. The font is Perp, and like a cut down version of a pillar and capital.

Excellent Georgian pulpit, not the usual type, with a panel depicting the rays of the sun and inlay. The only two memorials of note are C18 and in the transept, one more hidden than the other by the organ. Also nice to see a welcome table where visitors can make a drink, not the usual squashes but also a kettle and selection of tea or coffee.

St Michael, Guiting Power, Gloucestershire

Another church at the end of a lane in the village with the countryside beyond, but not one that is hidden like Notgrove earlier in the day. Originally Norman but much altered, especially by the additions of transepts (north 1819, south 1843), and a general restoration of 1902-3 which saw a near reconstruction of the chancel. The original north doorway remains in situ, but crowded by the transept, the large and exuberant south doorway was moved to the end of the long transept which dominates the exterior. 
Inside these long transepts make for a strange interior, especially as you enter into the south transept into what is seemingly the nave of the church. The remaining bit of the nave itself is incredibly short but its roof is in part original and rests on some good corbels. On the steps to the C15 west tower rests a small stone coffin, unusually still with its original lead lining. The stone pulpit dates from 1903 but the stem is C15. Over the south door the Royal Arms of George IV.

St Andrew, Naunton, Gloucestershire

Oh dear, perhaps senility is setting in, as here was another place to receive a revisit. I proceeded straight to the local pub for an early lunch (and it was yum!) Sat outside in the sunshine with a scrummy pint of local Donnington ale, all felt familiar, and indeed I was here (church AND pub) in 2001, when I took a series of 1megapixel photos of poor quality featuring Rolf and Alla looking around what is essentially a rather dull church but one that features regularly in many shots of the village in "The Beautiful Cotswolds" calendars.
All is late Perp, nave and chancel in one and a north aisle. It is certainly better outside than in. To make up for this, there is a most beautiful stone pulpit of the C15. I was soon on my way.

St Bartholomew, Notgrove, Gloucestershire

I definitely had not been here before. The church is tucked away at the end of the village next to the manor house. It is basically Norman, but really heavily restored by J E K Cutts 1871-3. The original arcade survives with round stepped arches. The chancel arch is a little later and now pointed. Norman too the tub font, decorated with two bands of cable moulding around the top. Several bits of old woodwork built into the screen and some of the benches. In the small north transept are two very worn effigies, and the chancel has two more monuments much later and in better condition. On the north side of the sanctuary a recumbent lady on a tomb chest dated with large figures 1630. Opposite a two tiered affair with two gentlemen like the lady from the Whittington family. A robed civilian lies below a soldier in armour. There is no east window to the chancel and the wall is now hidden by a tapestry completed in 1954 which supposedly repeats the decoration to be found behind (without the coloured scenes that is). There was a pulley to raise it presumably so that the original stonework of the reredos could be enjoyed, so I grabbed the cable only to discover it was so rusty that if I was concerned that even if I succeeded in raising it I may not get it back down. In the vestry window a delightful piece of medieval glass showing the Virgin and Child. On leaving I completed my walk around the church and discovered in a Dec niche on the chancel east wall was a Saxon carving of the Crucifixion, rather crude but still identifiable.

All Saints, Turkdean, Gloucestershire

4th July 2011

I set off for a day in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, and a day of open churches. The first church was one I believed I had never been to before, but as I pulled up outside all felt rather familiar, and indeed I was here in April 2004 when there had been a sprinkling of snow on the ground. This was also the first day proper of using my new digital camera and seeing how long the battery would last. I had bought one spare. All Saints is a pleasant small church, originally Norman. A Perp tower was inserted into the west end of the nave, but it seems shortly afterwards that a decision was made to rebuild much of the church adding a south aisle. The porch shelters a fine C15 doorway, but fragments of the original doorway to the west and built into the walls of the tower and the porch. C19 neo Norman chancel arch, with a pretty screen of a surprising date - 1949. The font and the pulpit are crisply detailed Perp but retooled. BoE mentions a wall painting in the spandrel of the arcade, and for the second time I missed it; it must be very feint.