Monday, 23 January 2012

Alphamstone, Essex

St Barnabas has been so over restored as to be rendered antiseptic which is a shame as the exterior sort of points to a once interesting building - I think but it's hard to be sure so I'm going to sit on the fence here.

CHURCH . Nave, lower chancel and belfry. All much restored by Sir Arthur Blomfield. Norman one blocked N window, C13 the completely plain N doorway. The rest mostly C14, windows especially and SEDILIA. The latter of three seats, framed in one, with the PISCINA, cusped pointed arches on detached shafts. S arcade (also C14) of three bays with octagonal piers and double-chamfered arches.  FONT. Of the familiar Purbeck type, square, with five shallow blank arches on each side, C12. - FONT COVER. Handsome, if modest, C17 piece. Semi-globe with ribs crowned by a finial of openwork scrolls carrying a ball.

St Barnabas (2)


ALPHAMSTONE. In narrow winding lanes its houses are strung out, several of them 17th century and one a 16th century farm. The churchyard has a fine outlook over the Stour valley, and marks the site of a far more ancient burial-place in the Bronze Age. Urns dug up hereabouts are in Colchester Museum. From the wooden bell-turret three Tudor bells ring out, but the nave walls may be as old as the 12th century, and the south aisle and the chancel with its splendid sedilia are 14th. One of the porches has timbers 500 years old, and the other is about a century younger, but both the doors have been here since the time of Agincourt. There are two chests and a communion table, all about 300 years old, and a 12th century font bowl with a 17th century cover. The chancel has two of the low medieval windows which have long puzzled our antiquarians. They have kept their ancient iron grilles, and are believed to have been used at mass, when a bell was rung from them for the people outside to hear. In several windows is 14th and 15th century glass, including blue and gold roundels, fragments of suns and tabernacles, fleur-de-lys and cups. A sad tale is told of the old glass of the church being sold for what it would fetch in Sudbury market at the beginning of last century.

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