Monday, 17 October 2011

Woodham Ferrers, Essex

The graveyard at St Mary the Virgin has a commanding view across the Crouch valley and, since the church was locked with no keyholder listed, is what I admired most here.

St Mary itself looks like a converted grain barn and is a hotch-potch affair but I would have liked to have seen Cecilie Sandys' monument.

ST MARY THE VIRGIN. Nave and aisle, chancel, belfry. With the exception of the latter essentially built between c. 1250 and c. 1330. The N and S arcades come first, three bays with alternating circular and octagonal piers, alternating also in a N-S direction across the nave. Moulded capitals and double chamfered arches. Niches in the last pier and E respond on the S side. Clerestory C19, but with C13 splays. The chancel arch is of the same style, but the chancel in one way noticeably later. The windows have bar-tracery with quatrefoils in circles. That can hardly be earlier than c. 1275. The aisle windows have usual two-light Dec tracery. There was originally an early C16 W tower, but it has been demolished, and the tower arch bricked up. Patches of flint and stone flushwork on the l. and r. remain to indicate the character of the tower. The S porch is of timber, with six cusped arched openings on each side and a pargetted gable. The belfry rests on a big tiebeam, not on posts, as usual. - FONT COVER, ogee-shaped of thin ribs. - PAINTING. Doom above the chancel arch, C15, with Christ seated in the centre, angels on the l. and r, souls below, and the mouth of Hell in the r. corner. Hardly recognizable. - PLATE. Large Cup and Paten of 1668. - MONUMENTS. Cecilie Sandys, wife of the Archbishop of York d. 1610, erected 1619. The usual alabaster design with a kneeling figure in profile, but in addition Father Time on the left, a missing figure on the r., and Victories on the semicircular pediment. What will be remembered as exceptional and enchanting is the background behind the figure and the whole area of the pediment, all carved into an arbour of roses. 

St Mary the Virgin (3)

Woodham Ferrers

Woodham Ferrers (2)

Mee explains the mystery of Bicknacre.

WOODHAM FERRERS. Its houses line a winding uphill street, and the church stands behind with a good view of the valley of the Crouch. It is a wide open building of the 13th and 14th centuries, having lost its tower. It has a 14th century font and four l5th century benches. The wall over the high chancel arch shows in a faint pink all that remains of a medieval Doom painting, in which Christ sits on a rainbow; and there are bright yellows and blues in the 14th century shields of France and England in a window. A delightful monument is a son’s tribute to his mother; it shows Cecilie Sandys, who survived her husband, Archbishop of York, living in the Elizabethan house he had built a mile away, still standing. She kneels in painted alabaster, a lady of Jacobean days, below a graceful trellis covered with flowers, Father Time with an hourglass in his hand lurking in the shadow of a column behind her.

Along the road is Bicknacre, where a solitary arch stands like a shadow of the priory which stood here from the 12th century until 1507, when its last canon died in it.


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