Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Fryerning, Essex

St Mary the Virgin purports to be open but was locked when I visited. I met another visitor who'd been before and found it locked; also the high tech locks seem to indicate this is a shutdown church.

ST MARY. Small, with early C16 brick tower, with blue brick diapering, stepped battlements on a pointed-arched corbel frieze and brick pinnacles. Nave of coursed pudding-stone and Roman bricks, Early Norman, with four original windows and plain N and S doorways. - FONT. With big square bowl decorated with large scrolls, leaves etc; c. 1200. - STAINED GLASS. E window by Willement, in the Gothic style, but not the Pugin variety. - PLATE. Cup and Cover of 1700; Flagon and Alms dish of 1716. - BRASS in the vestry. Palimpsest. Woman of c. 1460 on one side, Mary Gedge, Elizabethan period, on the other.

St Mary the Virgin (2)

FRYERNING. A little apart from the Roman road between London and Chelmsford, it has a sight not soon forgotten, a magni´Čücent red tower standing out above a churchyard rich in pines and yews. It is a noble piece of 15th century brickwork, with handsome pinnacles, shapely windows and buttresses, stepped battlements, and tiny corbelled arches, a perfect tower of its age. There are red tiles on the church roofs, Roman tiles in the walls of the Norman nave and chancel, and wide-splayed Norman windows, some reshaped by a later age. The attractive little priest’s doorway is 15th century, but the people’s doorways are Norman, and one has a consecration cross. A striking Norman font is richly patterned with many designs. In the vestry is one of the best palimpsest brasses we have seen, mounted to show both sides. Its original engraving was of a 15th century lady in a horned headdress; but a little of the headdress is cut away to accommodate the plump face of Mary Berners, on the other side; she is wearing a handsome Tudor robe. There is a tablet to Captain Gordon Elton who died in the Great War after winning the DSO. It has these noble lines written 2500 years ago by the Greek poet Simonides:

Yet being dead they die not; in the grave
Though they be lying
These be the souls to whom high~valour gave
Glory undying.

By the church is Fryerning Hall, a house with timbers almost as old as the church tower.

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