Monday, 5 September 2011

Nowton, Suffolk

I had researched St Peter before visiting so expected it to be shut, which it was, I had, however, also expected a keyholder to be listed but when I visited in mid August there were none listed; I bemoan the fact that we are denied the opportunity to view its renowned Flemish glass collection

I've searched Flickr and found some excellent photos of the rondels by gordonplumb but that's not the same as seeing them in the flesh.

Some would argue that given that one was damaged by vandals this justifies keeping the church locked. I would counter argue that the vandals damaged the glass from the outside and by keeping a church open it reduces vandalism, however, I also accept that, as Mee says, the church is remote and is a treasure house and thus vulnerable. So, on balance, I'd come down to keep it locked but have keyholders; there must be loads of disappointed visitors who have been excluded.

I had just discovered that I had a slow puncture and was some distance from an air supply, so took a rushed, crap picture, and departed, slowly, to the nearest garage. On reflection I was so worried about the flat - for green reasons my car doesn't come with a spare tire and I was worried about driving on a partial flat - it's possible I missed a keyholder; I'll have to go back.

UPDATE: A return visit showed that a keyholder is now (May 2012) listed and the glass here lives up to, and possibly exceeds its billing.If I were hyper critical I'd say that the rondels are slightly spoilt by the hideous surrounding glass - particularly in the Chancel window - but the medallions themselves are extraordinary.

ST PETER. Norman N doorway with one order of shafts and crockety capitals. In the E wall of the N aisle a re-set Norman window. The aisle is painful neo-Norman of 1843. The S doorway is genuinely Norman, but simpler. Chancel of c. 1300. Three-light intersected E window, a circle in the top field. Inside two big niches l. and r. Dec W tower. - STAINED GLASS. About seventy-five pieces of foreign glass, c 16 to c 17. - PLATE. Silver-gilt Cup 1643 ; silver-gilt Cup 1678-9; silver-gilt Almsdish 1824. - MONUMENT. Mrs Oakes d. 1811. By John Bacon jun. Praying woman by a sarcophagus set at an angle.

East window (9)

East window (13)

East window (15)

Flemish glass (7)

NOWTON. It stands out in memory for its wonderful collection of pictorial medallions in the church, one of the biggest and most remarkable we have seen. There are nearly 60 of them in fine Flemish glass going back to the 16th century, some drawn from legend, but most of them Bible scenes. One medallion shows St Christopher having a red-hot helmet placed on his head. In the east window we see him with the Christ Child; here also are John in the Wilderness, the Baptism in Jordan, the Descent from the Cross, the Ascension, and scenes in the Garden of Eden. Other chancel windows show the Trinity, the camp of the Israelites, the Visitation, the Flagellation, Christ bearing His Cross, and the Crucifixion, in the aisles are the adoring Wise Men, another Baptism in Jordan, the Flight into Egypt, Our Lord with the woman at the well, a Madonna and Child, a scene on Calvary, and another Crucifixion. Quaintly but sincerely drawn they all are, with many of the characters dressed in the costume of the artist’s day.

The church stands remotely among fine trees and beautiful meadows, and has a 14th century tower, a chancel partly as old, and a simple little Norman doorway. Below a massive timber cornice is an old chancel screen with light arches of delicate tracery.

Flickr.

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