Monday, 10 May 2010

Bardfield Saling, Essex

A very plain interior is more than offset by SS Peter & Paul being one of six round tower churches in Essex (the others being Broomfield, Great Leighs, Lamarsh, South Ockenden and Pentlow).

ST PETER AND ST PAUL. A C14 church with the chancel probably completed last. It was shortened in the C19. Round W tower whose windows look early C14. Early to mid C14 windows in the nave and chancel, but quite a marked difference in style between the S arcade and the chancel arch. The former has strong piers consisting of four main shafts and four keeled shafts in the diagonals, with moulded arches and head-stops, the chancel arch has late C14-looking responds. Big ogee squint. - PULPIT. Elizabethan, the usual arched panels treated in perspective. The pilasters between of termini shape. - SCREEN. Contemporary with the chancel, that is of large and relatively plain forms, ogee arches and, above in niches, quatrefoils coming down to an ogee point. Strong framing. - STRAW DECORATION for the altar made c. 1880, chiefly extremely naturalistjc vine trails with grapes.

Arthur Mee:

BARDFIELD SALING. It has one of the six round towers in Essex, particularly interesting because it was built in the 14th century and is therefore a late example of such a tower. The rest of this small church is also 14th century, but the tiny chancel may­be a generation younger, perhaps because the Black Death fell on the land. There is attractive carving in wood and stone. Two gargoyles look down from the tower, the 15th century font is panelled on bowl and stem, and there is a 600-year-old screen of two bays. Particularly fine is the Jacobean pulpit, on which the old carver has very cleverly shown arches in perspective. Two elaborate panels, of the 17th century are in the modern pews. The organ was the gift of Sir George Elvey, whose church music is sung everywhere, for he was the composer of the well-known tune for Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.

Woolpits Farm not far away has kept a little home of the birds since the 17th century. It is a brick pigeon house, with a weather-vane swinging over a timber lantern on the roof, and clay nests still in the upper floor.

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