Friday, 6 August 2010

Great Abington, Cambridgeshire

Another locked church but once again understandably - it's in the middle of nowhere which is unfortunate as it has a fine Elizabethan monument in the chancel. Apparently it's generally locked which denies us the ability to have a recce at Sir William Halton's tomb - which is a shame.

Update: I visited today (12/02/13) and it was open - I don't know if this is the result of a change of policy or blind luck but it appears to be now be kept open.

ST MARY. Away from the village, in the grounds of Abington Hall. Flint and pebble rubble. Mostly E.E., i.e. nave, chancel, and W tower. Evidence in the tower is the lack of original buttresses, the two-light bell-openings with chamfered surround the fine group of three stepped lancets below giving light to the nave.* Evidence in the nave one N lancet, in the chancel several lancets and a two-light window with quatrefoil above the lancets (S wall). The interior is characterized by the exposed and whitewashed rubble of all walls, a C20 effect, blatantly incorrect, but appealing to our idea of the robust and unsophisticated Middle Ages. The S aisle is separated from the nave by a four-bay arcade of early C14 date: quatrefoil piers with moulded capitals and arches of one chamfer and one fine roll. The tower arch also seems to be C14 rather than C13. - Divers Perp window insertions, especially an odd one in the chancel, high up, perhaps to give better light to the pulpit. - MONUMENT. Sir William Halton d. 1639. Standing wall monument. He rests stiffly on his elbow, hand on cheek. His sword is of iron. Inscription above and flanking scrolls in their detail typical 1640, i.e. no longer Jacobean in style. By W. Wright (Mrs Esdaile).

 * A lead spike on top of the tower.

GREAT ABINGTON. It is not great, but small. The Granta meanders past its thatched cottages on its way to become the Cam, and near by runs an overgrown Roman road and something older still, the Brent Ditch which the Bronze Age men dug for over a mile as a defence in the gap between forest and marsh.

The ancient church door in the 15th century porch opens on an interior of simple charm, with curious walls of flint and stone pierced by lancets, The most striking twins a group of three framed by the arch of the 13th century tower. Completing the picture is a simple Norman font with a Jacobean cover, More rich Jacobean woodwork makes up the reading desk The clustered pillars of the arcade are 14th century; the battered aumbry and the double piscina are a century older. Two odd features are a peephole cut through a pillar and a window splay, and the rood stairs with a small window at the top to light the now vanished loft At the lop of the 15th century east window are fragments of old glass with a tiny figure under a canopy, and near it a 17th century lawyer. Sir William Halton reclines in his armour, his feet on a cross-legged lion, his hand on a mighty sword with a steel blade.