Friday, November 16, 2012

St Andrew, Churchdown, Glos

Mr Neil and myself met up for a fairly local crawl on Monday. I picked him up from Thornbury at around 1015 and we headed north on the M5 four junctions in heavy rain. I had proposed starting at Churchdown, between Gloucester and Cheltenham, and I had written down a list of other churches which for some reason I had never ever visited in the same area. These lie in the triangle of land east of the River Severn between Gloucester Cheltenham and Tewkesbury. To my surprise Mr Neil had almost the same list of churches still to visit, so game on! The weather forecast did not auger well but it dried up after lunch although remained cloudy. Cameron's locking maps suggested only one locked church without keyholder. None of these churches had anything special to see architecturally, in fact a tribute to the Victorian over-restorers seemed to be the order of the day. There was however to be one surprise, plus a couple of unusual fonts to enjoy.

Both of us had independently set off in the past to come to Churchdown, and both of us had never got here. I discovered why on Google, as you have to drive along the A40 towards Gloucester and double back on yourself. I had also discovered that the parish office is open most mornings so getting in was on the cards, as was I hoped getting into St Bartholomew's church high on the hill (you may have seen an illuminated cross on the hillside from the M5 travelling in the dark). St Andrew is the replacement in the village, now low lying and by the railway. The church has spent a serious amount of cash on recent improvements here and we walked into a swish reception area. Our luck was out for St Bartholomew though as the chap who would have been free with the key was away on holiday, and Mondays was not a good day for anyone else. However at least we both know where to come.
St Andrew is a late replacement for the old church, dating from 1903-4. A porch was added in 1964, and is now rather redundant since the new hall and rooms were added to the south side very recently. There has also been a reordering of the interior and the altar is placed in the centre of the north side of the nave with the seating arranged around it. The chancel now contains elevated seating, maybe the posh seats? There are some interesting windows, more for their subject matter. Three lancets have historical tableaux, two with scenes remaining a mystery to me! Two Hardman lancets in the sanctuary show St Oswald King of the Northumbrians and Aethelflaed "Lady of the Mercians". Obviously Churchdown identifies strongly with Gloucester's history.

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