Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Great Easton, Essex

Another St Mary the Virgin which I have visited several times (it's more or less my next door village) in order to try and persuade myself that I am missing something, sadly each time I do I come away thinking that I'm not.

I recently had reason to revisit my entry for Great Easton and found that I hadn't done interiors and was exceptionally harsh in my assessment; not only that but I got the dedication wrong - my only defence is that SS John & Giles was one of my early visits and I was comparing it to some of the great churches I visited before coming here (also I didn't know what I was looking at then).

Having said that this is not the most interesting of churches but does have a Carl Edwards window, an interesting altar and reredos of 1912 and rood statues of indeterminate age; it's nave is also fundamentally Norman.

I still think the squat tower is ugly but, with a more educated eye, found much more interest here than previously.

ST JOHN: AND ST GILES. Nave and chancel and C19 belfry. The nave is Norman, see the S doorway with one order of columns (scalloped capitals). The E half of the nave has noticeably thicker walls, an indication that originally it carried a crossing tower. The chancel is E.E., with lancet windows. - PLATE. Cup and small Paten on foot of 1634; Paten on foot and large Stand Salver of 1686; Flagon of 1712. 

Carl Edwards 1975 (1)

 Statues (2)

Reredos (1)

GREAT EASTON. Its oldest possessions are the Roman tiles in the walls of the church, but next in age comes what is left of a Saxon fort, a mound about 20 feet high surrounded by a dry ditch. It is in the grounds of Easton Hall, an old house with Tudor chimneys and a wing with 15th century roof timbers. The hall is close to the little green where a tall peace cross stands proudly, and is only one of Great Easton's old homes. Another opposite the green has a beehive and other devices worked in plaster; others of the 16th and 17th centuries line the lane; and by the footbridge over the River Chelmer is a timber-framed farm with Tudor chimneys, its next-door neighbour a perfect 15th century house with traceried bargeboards.

Norman builders fashioned the nave of the church, which has walls so thick at one part that it is believed to have had a central tower. Two of its five bells are 15th century, and all are doomed to ring in an unattractive wooden turret set up 100 years ago. The chancel is 13th century and has kept its ancient piscina and scratch dial. The vestry is built round a Norman doorway.

The exterior is dull and the interior is duller; it's almost a transplanted style from south of the A120 dumped in Uttlesford. The only redeeming interest is that it may once have been a cruciform church which has, at some stage, been reduced to the sad mess it is today - so, actually, that's not redeeming.

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