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.

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