Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Cambridge Suburbs

I finished off Cambridge by recording six Victorian suburb churches: Christ Church, St Matthew, St Paul, St Barnabas, St Philip and St John the Evangelist - all locked with no keyholders apart from St John which is very high Victorian and not very interesting.

CHRIST CHURCH, Newmarket Road (C). 1839 by Ambrose Poynter, internally very similar to St Andrew. Tall octagonal piers, high four centred arches, three galleries. The exterior is red brick with dark brick diaper work. The nave front is of the type of King’s Chapel with angle turrets. Angle turrets at the E end also.

ST MATTHEW, Geldart Street (C). 1866 by R. R. Rowe. Humble, but of unusual plan 5 Greek Cross with octagonal centre. - PULPIT. C17 from Sawston church. - COMMUNION TABLE from Trinity College chapel. - SCULPTURE. Angels said to come from the organ gallery of Ely Cathedral.

ST PAUL, Hills Road (B). 1841 by Ambrose Poynter. Very precise red brickwork with diapers of vitrified headers. Red brick was an unusual material at that time. Interior with tall thin octagonal piers without capitals, and four-centred arches. Very small clerestory. - The ORGAN CASE is contemporary with the church and an early instance of doing without crocketed gables, pinnacles, and such like motifs.

Christ Church (1)
Christ Church

St Matthew (1)
St Matthew

St Paul (5)
St Paul

St Barnabas
St Barnabas

St Philip (3)
St Philip

St John the Evangelist
St John the Evangelist

Emmanuel Congregational Church, Cambridge

All Victorian none accessible but nonetheless they're there:

Emmanuel Congregational church - this is accessible but I didn't bother.

EMMANUEL CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, Trumpington Street (A). 1875 by Cubitt, with a big, extremely harsh W tower asserting itself much too self-confidently. - PLATE. Two-handled Cup, 1698-9, by John Bodington (?). - Two-handled Cup 1705-6, by John Cory.

Emmanuel

Monday, 29 April 2013

Caldecote, Cambridgeshire

St Michael - locked no keyholders. The setting is lovely, shame its locked.

ST MICHAEL. Not an interesting church. W tower, nave and chancel; most details renewed. Chancel rebuilt 1858; the chancel arch looks early C14 in style. - ROOD SCREEN. Perp, altered, originally apparently of four-light divisions falling into two parts under two arches. - CHOIR STALLS. Six altogether, without Misericords.

St Michael

CALDECOTE. It hears the rippling music of the little Bourn Brook, it looks across to the tower of Kingston from its wooded hill; and it goes to church half a mile away, its 15th century shrine half hidden by chestnuts. The old studded door still hangs on its strap hinges in the medieval doorway, and across last century’s chancel stands a simple oak screen 500 years old. A niche by the chancel arch is sculptured with heads of animals. The very graceful tower arch opens from the aisleless nave and has no capitals. On a wooden tablet are the names of 17 men who went to the war and three who never came home. One was on HMS Formidable, one of 600 to go down in the first battleship of its class sunk by a submarine.

Lavenham, Suffolk

SS Peter & Paul is arguably the best known church in Suffolk and is magnificent, reflecting the wool wealth in an extravagant manner. Who could fail to be impressed by this combined worship of God and Mammon, and yet it rather feels like an attraction at Disneyland - the churchyard is immaculate, the tourists abundant, the attractions resplendent. Is it as good a building as some of the other churches I've visited on this journey? - I've come across better but for sheer bling this takes some beating.

ST PETER AND ST PAUL. This is, needless to say, one of the most famous of the parish churches of Suffolk - rightly so; for it is as interesting historically as it is rewarding architecturally. In both respects it is a match for Long Melford. The nave of Melford may be the nobler design, but Lavenham has more unity. To the eye it is a Late Perp church throughout, though the chancel and the pretty crocketed spirelet for the sanctus bell are clearly Dec (unknapped flint, Dec window tracery). The church was built by the efforts of the clothiers of Lavenham, chiefly the Springs, and of the Lord of the Manor, John de Vere, the thirteenth Earl of Oxford. His arms appear on the S porch, and inscriptions record Thomas Spring on the S chapel and Simon Branch on the N chapel. Wills prove that the tower was building in c. 1486-95, and its top parts belong to a second campaign of c. 1520-5. In 1523 Thomas Spring III left £200, a large sum, for its completion, and for the building of a chapel for a monument to himself and his wife. Other wills indicate building in the church itself in 1498 and 1504 (John Rusby £200). It is worth recording also that a niece of Thomas Spring II married the second son of the fifteenth Earl of Oxford. Thomas Spring III, when he made his will in 1523, owned property in 30 places.

Lavenham church makes a perfect picture, away from the houses of the village on two sides at least. Its W tower is as mighty as its nave is noble. The only criticism is that the tower is, perhaps, a little too substantial for the length of the nave, which is shorter than at Long Melford. Height of the tower 140 ft, length of the church 156 ft. Restoration by Penrose 1861-7. The tower is of knapped flint. On the plinth the stars and shields of the de Veres, the merchant marks of the Springs, and the crossed keys of St Peter and crossed swords of St Paul. The buttresses are very unusual, broad and clasping but provided on their two fronts with thinner sub-buttresses which look, of course, as if they were normal set-back buttresses. Five set-off's. On them panelling, and lower down canopied niches. Large W doorway with the arms of the Earl of Oxford and fleuron decoration, ogee gable, and flanking buttress shafts; four-light W window with transom. Three-light bell- openings. Parapet with shields in lozenges. The coat of arms of Thomas Spring III, a very recent acquisition when he died, appears thirty two times. The pinnacles were never built.

The nave is faced with Castleton stone. Seven bays with large transomed four-light windows. The clerestory has twelve, not fourteen, windows, owing to the interference of the tower buttresses, and the charming irregularity of a rood-turret with spirelet not outside the aisle but between nave and aisle. Aisle buttresses with decoration, aisle battlements with rich open-work decoration, clerestory also with such battlements. A favourite motif is large tripartite leaves set in panels. The N is essentially the same, although the window tracery is a little different, and there is no porch. The S porch is a spectacular piece. The entrance has spandrels with the Oxford boar, above it a niche, a frieze of six shields, again of the de Vere family, and above that openwork battlements. Fan-vault inside. The S (Spring) chapel is dated 1525. The inscription on it reads:

[Orate pr0 Anim] Thome Spryng armig et Alicie uxoris ejus qui istgm capellam fieri fecerunt anno dni MCCCCC vicesimo qui istam capellam fieri fecerunt.

It is higher than the aisle. It has flushwork-panelled walls, three/large transomed four-light windows with tracery different from that of the aisle, and different battlements too. The N (Branche) chapel corresponds to the S chapel but was built earlier, c. 1500. Its inscription is similar:

[Orate pro Animus] Simonis Branch et Elizabethe uxoris ejus qui istam capellam fieri fecerunt.

Its style is similar too, but the following differences ought to be noted. In the tracery of the Spring Chapel occur ogee arches, in that of the Branche Chapel they do not. The buttresses of the Spring Chapel are more elaborate than those of the Branche Chapel. The battlements of the Spring chapel are of stone similar to those of the S aisle, those of the Branche chapel have flushwork panelling. From the C14 chancel projects a low E vestry. This is said to date from 1444, was given by Thomas Spring II, and is of knapped flint with plain battlements. The arcades inside are of six bays. The slender piers have a complex section with four attached shafts which alone carry capitals. The capitals have fleuron decoration and battlements. The arch has an outer plain roll moulding, and circular shafts rise through the spandrels and from the apexes to the roof. Below the clerestory windows frieze of lozenges with shields. Cambered roof on small figures of angels. The E bays, above the former rood, are panelled. Fine N aisle roof, lean-to, on angel figures. Carved principals. Wall posts with niches and canopies. Along the N aisle wall below the windows frieze of fleurons, along the S aisle wall of foliage trails. In the N chapel N wall blank panelling below the windows. Blank panelling also in the tower N, S, and W walls.

FURNISHINGS. FONT. Perp, octagonal, much decayed. It had on seven sides two panels with standing figures. -  SCREENS. The roodscreen is contemporary with the chancel, i.e. of c. 1330-40. Screens that early are rare. Simple two-light divisions with ogee arches and flowing tracery. Original gates. Cresting. Later are the parclose screens to the N and S chapels. Parts of several screens, all good, none outstanding. The best has two-light divisions with a pendant between the two lights, and gables and fine tracery over. - SPRING CHANTRY (N aisle E end). The screen is a glorious piece of woodwork, as dark as bronze. Buttresses of openwork mouchettes. Dado with branches instead of tracery. In the two-light arches the tracery has also turned organic. Shallow canopies with little imitation vaults. The chantry was built by the will of Thomas Spring, who died in 1523. - OXFORD CHANTRY (S aisle E end). The thirteenth Earl died in 1513. The screen round his chantry is less fantastical, but equally successful. Three-light divisions with big ogee gables over each six lights. Castellated angle buttresses and finials. For the monument inside see below. - DOORS. W door with tracery, S door with linenfold panelling no doubt of the date of the porch. Rood stair with a typical Early Tudor motif (cf. S door Southwold), chancel E end, to C15 vestry, with tracery. - STALLS. Traceried fronts, poppyheads on the ends. - MISERICORDS. E.g. a pelican, a jester, a man holding a pig (the Oxford boa?), two figures playing the lute and the fiddle, etc. - STAINED GLASS. Many small fragments of original glass in the N aisle windows. - E window by Lavers & Barraud (Gent. Mag. 1861), the chancel S window by Frederick Thompson 1861. - MONUMENTS. In the Oxford Chantry decayed tomb-chest with pitched roof. - In the chancel monument to Henry Copinger b. 1622. Two kneeling figures facing each other, kneeling children in the ‘predella’. Columns l. and r. and two angels standing outside them. - BRASSES. Thomas Spryng II d. 1486 (E Vestry). Kneeling figures. - Allaine Dister d. 1534, an Elizabethan plate (N aisle wall). The inscription says of him:

A Clothier vertuous while he was
In Lavenham many a yeare.
For as in lyefe he loved best
The poore to clothe and feede
So withe the riche and all the rest
He neighbourlie agreed
And did appoynt before he died
A speial yearlie rent
Whiche shoulde be every Whitsuntide
Amonge the poorest spent

-  Clopton d’Eewes d. 1631, tiny baby (in front of the altar). - Large number of indents.

 Misericord N2 Jester (2)

Clopton d'Ewes d.1631 (2)

SS Peter & Paul

Glass (6)

LAVENHAM. Looking through her oriel window at Lavenham, Jane Taylor saw a twinkling star and thought it like a diamond in the sky. We think she would walk about this place thinking it like a diamond on the earth, so beautiful it must have been. Beautiful it is, but our destroying century has done its work and medieval Lavenham is mixed with much that is too poor to keep it company. There are places where we may stand and see nothing that has not been here 400 years. There are streets that are like a walk into the past, and houses like a dream. But if we would see the wretched thing that our own age has done we have but to come to Lavenham’s church corner, with Beauty and the Beast standing side by side. The church, of course, is the Beauty, and wondrously beautiful it is, but the thing that is incredible is that nobody has planted a row of trees or a glorious high hedge to hide the back gardens of the ugly rows of houses standing looking at the church. Houses of charity they are, but the most tasteless scene that Lavenham has. It is best to see this church from the other side as it rises above a weeping willow and a silver birch beside the lily pond and garden of the hall; from this side we ourselves must weep to see the spoiler’s work.

All the loveliness of sleepy Lavenham stands out in the mind when the ugly is forgotten. Its streets are as delightful as their names, and are famous for their houses, captivating inside and out. Lady Street leads us from the marvellous old guildhall; Water Street has the house with the jolly figures that have been looking out from the door-posts for 400 years. Shilling Old Grange was the home of Ann and Jane Taylor. Church Street has the little medieval houses which seem to be leaning on each other, some nodding forward as if half asleep, some with queer shutters, some with pink plaster. Prentice Street has a house 14th century at the back and 16th century at the front, which belonged to the last wool merchant in Lavenham.

The old grammar school with the 16th century gables and tiny shields on the beams has carved figures of Christ between robbers and angels. Toll House has a heavy oak door which has been swinging for centuries. The Old Wool Hall of Lady Street has been rebuilt with its old materials, and has kept the carved beams, the spacious hall, and the enchanting ingle-nooks. Bolton Street has a house with the roof coming down nearly to the ground. Chimney House in Church Street has an odd passage under arches round its chimney. The Swan Inn at the meeting of the ways has memories of Lavenham great days in its gabled roof, its giant timbers, its plastered walk stamped with a mitre and a fleur-de-lys, and the old courtyard where is a door opening into one of the bedrooms for the passengers and luggage on the top of the coaches.

There can be only a few timbered houses in England to rival the guildhall, a few yards behind the graceful shaft of the market cross. It has an exquisite gabled porch with an upper room, a grand door and an oriel window, an overhanging storey with a carved cornice, and a remarkable corner-post with tracery and flowers round a niche with a figure of John de Vere, the Earl of Oxford who gave the town a charter in 1529. Here in their heyday the rich cloth merchants founded the Guild of Corpus Christi, which met in the hall. It is as they saw it when they sat round the great fireplaces, but little did they dream of what was to happen in the cellar with the small barred window, for here the brave Rowland Taylor was held captive before they led him to the stake on Aldham Common. We may sit in what is said to have been his seat  in a recess in the wall.

Pleasanter, perhaps, is the home of Ann and Jane Taylor, a lovely place with its dainty little courtyard, its overhanging bedrooms, and the massive beams that look as if they will last a thousand years. Here the girls lived with their father, Ann who wrote the poem on My Mother which all our children know, Jane who wrote Twinkle, twinkle, little star. She wrote it here; she may have thought it out sitting by this fireplace; she would see the stars through these windows. What she did not see was the little secret room under the roof, which she passed a thousand times without dreaming it was there. It was found in our own time, with medieval pictures still on its walls.

It is to those rich clothiers, the two Thomas Springs and Simon Branch, and to the Earl of Oxford, that Lavenham owes its noble church. They began it in the 15th century and finished it in the 16th, giving it the finest tower in the county. It is magnificent, soaring 140 feet high, with shields on the buttresses and bands of roses and stars, the face of it all closely packed with a hundred thousand flints. Every year on June 21 the bells celebrate with peals the birthday of the oldest bell, made in 1625 and weighing over a ton; its lovely tone is unsurpassed.

Very impressive are these battlemented walls, their carvings still bold and clear, the clerestory windows worthy of a cathedral, the pierced parapets crowned with pinnacles and statues and carved with a host of wheat sheaves and stars. The turret of the south chapel is crowned with a spire and weathervane, and the battlements of the south porch are enriched with finials like little oaks. The porch ceiling is richly vaulted, the linenfold door has two boars swinging from spits, carved two generations ago by the grandfather of the man who carved the dragons above the doorway of the Swan Inn. The west door has been many generations swinging in its beautiful canopied arch.

The great church, nearly 200 feet long and 70 wide, is rich in beauty and possessions. On the pier caps of the six bays of the nave are Tudor flowers and crowns of East Anglian kings, the clerestory windows have fragments of old glass, and below the clerestory is a rich cornice and a fine band of carving. Above it all a gallery of 28 standing figures, monks, pilgrims, saints, holds up the huge beams of the roof, shaped from single oak trees. Everywhere the roofs are fine, those of the aisles more elaborate than the nave and also held up by seated figures under canopies. The south chapel roof has foliage on the beams and crests on the wall-plates, with stars, oak leaves, dogs, and figures, among whom we recognised St Peter and Thomas Becket. This chapel was built by Thomas Spring, one of the richest wool merchants in England, but he never saw its full beauty, for he died in 1523 before it was finished. An inscription outside the north chapel tells that it was built by Simon Branch.

The screens are a wonderful group, with exquisite carving. The chancel screen has tiny faces no bigger than a penny, and a pair of gates which have been rescued from a stable. On the side screens of the chancel are traces of old painting and gilding. Most remarkable are two Tudor screens round tombs in the aisles. The screen in the south aisle has shields between dolphins, and intricate canopy work  like that in Henry the Seventh’s chapel at Westminster; the tomb it shelters is seven feet long, and the stone over it must weigh a ton.

The other screen round the tomb with the brass matrices of the Spring family (the brasses have gone) has rich panels with magnificent tracery in the arches and beautiful canopy work, and in niches on the corner-posts are small figures of saints, while in the ornamental panels are winged lions, dragons, jesters with tails, men climbing trees, quaint acrobats, and animals hunting frightened children. We may suppose that the craftsmen of this wondrous screen were inspired by the 14th century miserere carvings in the choir. One has a man
with a pig under his arm, another has a stork and a spoonbill pulling a man’s hair, another a man riding a camel, and one a woman playing a fiddle and a man mocking her by drawing his crutches across a pair of bellows. (Instead of legs the woman ends with an animal’s head, the man with its tail.)

Thomas Spring, the father of the wool merchant, is on a brass in the vestry he built at the east end, and with him are his wife, four sons, and six daughters, a quaint 15th century group all pictured in their shrouds. A clothier of the next generation, Allaine Dister, is in brass with his wife and their six children, and there is a brass of a baby in his christening robe, little Clopton D’Ewes, who was only ten days old when he died in 1631.

By the altar kneels a rector of Shakespeare’s day, Dr Copinger; he is wearing a black gown with white ruffs, and his wife kneels facing him,  their ten children below them, and an angel on a pedestal on each side. The children would be christened at the battered old font, which used to be locked against witches. It is 600 years old, and has figures in seven of its panels, among them a mother teaching her child to read while a demon tries to snatch him away. The font is one of the oldest things in Lavenham, though the chancel arch and the sanctuary are of equal age, also from the earlier church.

On a carved oak table is a book bound in vellum with a war biography of every man who died. With it is the story of a son of the rector, the much-loved George Hugh Leonard Conyngham. A black marble stone in the floor has the Conyngham arms in brass, and on it is an inscription telling us of the death of Denis Conyngham, closing with the words:

Goodbye, dear child, Goodbye till the day break.

The father was rector here for 16 years, and the chapel in which the son is buried was beautified as a tribute to the father. The son was born in 1902 and died in 1929. 'He was a Winchester boy and went from the college there to Cambridge, rowing for his college and winning the college pairs. On joining the Scottish Rifles he was awarded the first scholarship given by the War Ofiioe to the most promising university candidate, and after service at Aldershot and. Catterick he went to China with his regiment. Wonderfully versatile, he took an honours degree in history at  Cambridge, laid out gardens at Catterick, took over transport at Hong Kong, and at his home in Lavenham he used to preach from his father’s pulpit. A man of great courage, he rescued a child from drowning at Hong Kong and would travel with perfect confidence in parts of China where no Englishman was thought to be safe. With him the Chinese were not only safe but friendly. The police cleared the way for him when curious crowds gathered round, and once a Chinese governor put a guard over the house where he slept, to protect him against bandits.

There was one time when he was actually in danger in China. He had noticed a child being treated with great cruelty by a crowd, and advanced to the rescue. It was a question for the moment as to whether the crowd would set upon him or fall back, but Denis Conyngham’s blue eyes and his serene smile did their work; the crowd fell back, the child was safe, and all was well.

Flickr.

Haverhill, Suffolk

I also failed to create an entry for St Mary the Virgin, I don't know why because I really rather liked it despite it being locked without keyholders. It had recently undergone a major refurbishment and was very spick and span; the poor thing doesn't deserve to be stuck in the hideousness that is Haverhill.

ST MARY. A fire in 1665 is recorded. The church looks at present over-restored in the C19. W tower Dec below (see the arch towards the nave) and Perp higher up. Stair-turret at the SE corner rising higher than the tower. Nave and aisles, clerestory, S chapel, and chancel; all Perp except for a blocked C13 lancet in the chancel. Pinnacles on the S aisle. N doorway decorated with fleurons, etc. The arcades inside were rebuilt in 1867; those in the S chapel are in order (moulding with four shafts and four hollows, arches with two-wave moulding). - PLATE. Cup and Paten 1659. - MONUMENT. John Ward, Elizabethan; no date. Tablet with oddly steep gable with strapwork. The inscription is framed by mottos such as Watch, Warde, Lightes here, stares hereafter. The Latin inscription runs as follows:

Quo si quis sciuit scitius
Aut si quis docuit doctius
At rarus vixit sanctius
Et nullus tonuit fortius.

 St Mary the Virgin (4)

St Mary the Virgin (2)

HAVERHILL. From near and far we see its splendid windmill, stately on a hill. With a huge vaned wheel in place of sails, it is said to be the oldest of its kind in England.

Haverhill had its Great Fire a year before London’s, when most of its buildings and part of the church were destroyed. The old market continued; courage repaired the ravages; and the 19th century witnessed a burst of energy producing in less than 25 years the court house, the corn exchange, and the fine town hall, a splendid achievement for a little place which, despite its manufacture of silk, cloth, matting, bricks, boots, and gloves, has never had a population exceeding 5000.

The church has a 14th century tower topped in the next, a wild man with a bludgeon mounting guard on the parapet. The font, modernised in the 15th century, came unscathed through the great fire. The lady chapel has a peace memorial screen, carved by comrades and townsmen of the heroes it celebrates. Under the tower we found an old chest with linenfold panels, and in the vestry a Jacobean table. In the chancel is a tablet to Robert Roberts, whose 56 years of preaching last century is acknowledged by a window to his memory ; and another tablet is to Dr John Ward, a 16th century vicar whose two sons suffered for their faith.

Samuel Ward was a scholar and artist who combined a lectureship here with the oflice of town preacher at Ipswich. His skill as a caricaturist incurred the censure of the Spanish ambassador on account of a cartoon showing the wreck of the Armada, a Gunpowder Plot incident, and a representation of the Pope and cardinals in conference with Satan. James the First, who sacrificed even Raleigh to the enmity of Spain, urged his dismissal from office; but Ipswich was faithful to him, and, though he was persecuted and imprisoned by Laud and fled to Holland, he returned to Ipswich and died there. His brother Nathaniel ministered at a Protestant church in Germany, and was a rector in Essex before he sailed for Massachusetts, one of Laud’s victims. He named a town there after his own Haverhill.

The two Wards were not the only sons of this place to suffer for conscience sake, for Thomas Cobb went out from here to perish in the fire at Thetford in the red reign of Mary Tudor.

Chedburgh, Suffolk

Having just created an index for the blog I've discovered some missing visits, the first of which is All Saints.

Locked with no keyholder listed this Victorian church has very little, apart from location, to recommend it and even the location is slightly dubious due to the busy A143 running beside it. I've visited twice now and on balance this is not my cup of tea and it sounds like a dull interior.

ALL SAINTS. Nave and chancel of septaria and flint, and grey brick N tower of 1842 with spire. The chancel is also of 1842, but the E window with reticulated tracery is surely original. Nave of c. 1300 with renewed lancet and Y-tracery windows. Original the shafting of one S window. Pretty quatrefoil nave W window. No furnishings of interest. - STAINED GLASS. Some old fragments in the E window.

All Saints (1)

All Saints (2)

Mee missed it.

Christ Church, Ware, Hertfordshire

A funeral service was under way when I passed Christ Church which slightly inhibited me for interiors but I don't think I missed much.

Built in 1858 and designed by Nehemiah Edward Stevens of Kentish ragstone in EE style - its a pretty poor example of Victoriana.

Christ Church

Ware. It was known to the Danes, who are said to have brought their ships up the River Lea, and to John Gilpin on his famous ride, and was important enough 600 years ago for the county town to be referred to as Hertford-by-Ware. Long associated with malting, its aspect has been spoiled by the cone shaped cowls of many kilns, but there are quaint survivals of old Ware, looking its best as we come from Hertford and see its clustering red roofs and the fine grey church with a tiny spire. There is a pleasant tree-lined walk along the towpath on this side of the town, and the gardens of the houses have quaint gazebos along the north bank. George Stephenson’s iron bridge over the River Lea was cased by a concrete bridge early in our century.

The church stands finely at a corner which is like a paved garden, with a sundial among the flowers. In the narrow streets about it is a sprinkling of old houses, some with overhanging storeys. Facing the church is a big house with creepered walls and a roof of mellow tiles; known as the Priory, it has been much altered since it was built from the remains of a Franciscan friary founded in 1338 by the lord of the manor, Thomas Wake. It has some medieval windows, and in the entrance hall is an arch resting on corbels crudely carved with the heads of men. Here, too, is a 14th-century refectory table of oak and ash and poplar, said to be unique for its time in England. The house and its gardens were given to the town in 1920 by Annie Elizabeth Croft - the gardens small but charming with lawns and flowers, fine trees, and the river flowing through, a weeping willow making an arbour near the bridge to a tree-shaded island. Gilpin House in High Street, 17th century, keeps green the association of Cowper’s John Gilpin with the town. The Bluecoat House, built in 1686 by the Governors of Christ’s Hospital, served as a school till the children were removed to Hertford in 1760, and has since been a private house. An 18th—century house in the London Road, home of the Quaker poet, John Scott, became part of the grammar school for girls opened in our own time. A curious transformation has taken place at 65 High Street, where the timbered fronts of two 15th-century houses (which once faced each other across an alley) now form the walls of a coal cellar. One of the fronts has its original window frame and oak doorway, the curved arches above them having pierced spandrels.

Unspoiled by time or trade, the spacious cross-shaped church of St Mary is a grand tribute to its medieval builders, and to the restorers since the middle of last century, who have made the embattled exterior, including most of the windows, look rather new. Most of the old work is 14th and 15th century, but the chancel (said to have been completed by the mother of Henry VII, Margaret Beaufort) has 13th-century masonry and a fragment of an original window. The chancel arch is 15th century. Opening to the lady chapel is a rare 14th-century round-headed archway divided into two pointed bays, with straight mullions in the spandrel. The chapel has a sedila and piscina 600 years old, 17th-century panelling with a fine border of pierced carving, 15th century screenwork dividing it from the south transept, and a panelled and traceried roof in red and gold, with floral bosses. The 500-year-old doorway to the vestry has slender shafts, and a draped head and the head of a demon peeping from hollow moulding; it frames an old oak door. The 17th-century altar rails now enclosing the children’s corner were cast out of the church last century and served for a time as a garden fence before being brought back a few years ago.

The nave and aisles are from the end of the 14th century, and the tower with double buttresses is a little older. The graceful arches of the arcades, and the big windows of the clerestory (which are partly medieval) carry the eye to the splendid 15th-century nave roof, with stout tie beams and bosses of flowers, shields, and quaint heads, supported by modern stone corbels of saints and apostles. Good heads of medieval folk are between the arches of the arcades. The north transept has two 15th century recesses, and two brass portraits of the same century, showing a woman in flowing robes and ornamented headdress, and Elen Coke of 1454 wearing draped head-dress and wide sleeves. There is a remarkable brass in the south transept with 23 people on it - fine small figures of William Pyrey of 1470 in a belted gown, his two wives in horned headdress, and charming groups of 20 children, each wife having given him five sons and five daughters.

The font is magnificent with its vigorous carving of figures under leafy arches round the bowl. We see Gabriel and Mary, St Margaret slaying the dragon, St Christopher carrying the Holy Child over the stream, St Catherine with her wheel, St James with his pilgrim’s staff, St john the Baptist, and a bearded St George in armour, slaying the dragon. It is this armour of St George which enables us to date the lovely font at about 1380, for it closely resembles that of the Black Prince in Canterbury. At the corners of the font are angels with musical instruments and Passion symbols; the stem, only a little narrower than the bowl, is carved with quatrefoils, and round the base is a wreath of branchwork and flowers. The traceried and pinnacled cover is modern.

Sir Richard Fanshawe’s descendants have restored his marble monument in the south transept. Son of Sir Henry Fanshawe, who was a horticulturist and an Italian scholar, Sir Richard was born in 1608 at Ware Park, a domain of over 200 acres west of the town, partly encircled by the River Lea and the River Rib. He was a famous ambassador of Charles I, and his son was taken prisoner at Worcester, and became Latin secretary to Prince Charles at the Hague. Returning at the Restoration, he became a Privy councillor and in 1664 was English ambassador at Madrid, where he died in 1666. His body was brought home and buried here.

The church of the Sacred Heart, built in 1939, is the most attractive modern place of worship in the town, with its clear glass and comely fittings. It was designed by the late Geoffrey Webb.

Ware Park is now a sanatorium. One of its rooms is said to have been the original home of a piece of furniture that lives in Shakespeare, the Great Bed of Ware, which has lately been bought for the Victoria and Albert Museum. For nearly four centuries this wonderful oak bedstead, nearly 11 feet square and over 7 feet high, has been a byword with English people. It has often been mentioned in literature. Shakespeare makes an amusing allusion to it in Twelfth Night, when Sir Toby gives advice on courtship to Sir Andrew Aguecheek, telling him to write to Olivia, assuring her of his valour, "as many lies as will lie in thy sheet of paper, although the sheet were big enough for the Bed of Ware in England." Early in the 18th century it was in the Crown Inn at Ware, and in 1764 was moved to the Saracen’s Head near by. Last century it was taken to a building in the grounds of Rye House in Hertfordshire, renowned for the plot against Charles I’s two sons, happily discovered before they could be assassinated. The bed is magnificently carved. The head is a work of art, and the canopy and bedposts are also richly decorated. From the moment the idea of this huge bed entered the mind of its maker the Great Bed of Ware must have been a perpetual joke down the centuries. All kinds of travellers stopping at the two inns have slept under its great canopy, and many strange bedfellows it must have seen.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Holy Trinity, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire

Umm and err - locked no keyholder listed; is this a bad thing - I think probably not.

Neither boys covered it, so from its website:

The acquisition of a parcel of land, of ‘garden ground’, in 1852 marks the beginning of the history of Holy Trinity Church.  This ‘garden ground’ still provides the only green open space in the whole of the main street running north-south through Bishop’s Stortford.

In the early years of the nineteenth century, the ancient parish of St. Michael covered the whole town but the Rev’d Francis W. Rhodes, the Vicar, recognised the need for a new place of worship, not only in Hockerill, but also in the rapidly growing southern part of the parish.  The first building on the site was a school for infants only, begun in the autumn of 1852.  The very detailed description of the stone-laying ceremony appeared in the Hertfordshire Mercury of 20th November.  The first pupils arrived almost a year later.  The building still stands on the western part of the site and has been used, since the closure of the school in the 1920s, as Holy Trinity Parish Hall.  It was built for the education of 150 children and was licensed for divine worship, and services were held there on Sunday afternoons until the church was ready.

The plans for the church, now in Lambeth Palace Library, were drawn up by Joseph Clarke who designed a number of buildings in Bishop’s Stortford and in north London.  Holy Trinity was built of brick with Kentish ragstone cladding.  At first it consisted of a nave, chancel and sacristy, had a large east window and, on the west wall, two tall lancets with a quatrefoil above: these and all the other windows showed the simplicity of the Early English style.  It was intended that the building would accommodate 300 people, most of whom were poor.  This could only be possible by packing in benches for the children and pews for the adults.

‘The Church of Holy Trinity’ was consecrated on 27th April 1859 by the Bishop of Carlisle as the Diocesan, the Bishop of Rochester, was indisposed.  On 23rd January, in the following year, the District Chapelry of New Town by Order in Council became a parish.

At some time between the 1861 census and that of 1871 a tiny, very basic cottage was built to house the schoolmistress: it still stands.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century it was clear that the church needed extending and, with Sir Arthur Blomfield as architect, it was lengthened.  A narthex and choir vestry were also built at the west end.  The decision was made not to purchase chairs for the new seating but to provide pews, and five job lots of second hand pews, with ends of different shapes and sizes, some with solid backs, others open and some with very narrow seats were acquired.  None was of artistic merit.  In 1901, the east window received the stained glass seen today.

Various changes were made to the interior between 1901 and 1997 when a six-year major restoration programme began.  Rising damp had damaged walls and the wooden platforms on which the pews stood.  It was necessary to empty the nave and provide a new floor.  The opportunity was taken to install under floor heating and a floor of beautiful Purbeck stone.  The nave now has only moveable furniture, allowing people of all ages to have access to all parts of it.  At the same time the choir stalls were removed and original terra cotta and black embossed tiles in the chancel were cleaned and reset where necessary.  The decision to purchase chairs means that they can be arranged to suit all kinds of services.  The altar, free-standing from the north wall, the font and the lectern can be focal points with the congregation gathered around.  This is perhaps best seen on a summer’s day through the door from the south porch which now has wrought iron gates and grilles made by the Much Hadham blacksmith.  The chancel is now the natural place for most small services on weekdays, for private prayer and for personal ministry.
It was during the incumbency of Canon John Haynes that Holy Trinity was able to join in the bell-ringing to celebrate the Millennium.  The original bell, dated 1858, was cast by Mears Foundry, now the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, but had long been out of use: it weighs ¾ cwt (38 kg).  A second bell, in regular use since its acquisition, was cast by J. Warner and Son in 1873 and weighs ½ cwt (25 kg): it came from St. James’ Church, Watford in 1976 and was apparently installed by a T.V. aerial firm!  Both were refurbished and rung together for the first time thanks to the generous support of businesses in the parish.

Soon after the arrival of John Williams, the people of Holy Trinity were able to celebrate the completion of the major restoration programme and to accept the invitation of Don Vincenzo, the parish priest of the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Family (Santa Famiglia) at Fano on the Adriatic, to establish a link with them.  The ecumenically-minded parish already had links with Lutherans in Denmark and Orthodox in Romania and all three Anglican town parishes are now involved.  Gifts have been exchanged and visits made, one including a joint pilgrimage to Assisi where the group visited the church of San Damiano.  The generous gift of a copy of the San Damiano crucifix for the refurbished church is a constant reminder of the link.  Saint Francis of Assisi heard Christ on the cross speak to him and ask him to rebuild the church when he was praying in San Damiano.  It is encouraging to remember that the church is not the building, as Saint Francis at first thought, but the whole people of God, always in need of restoration and renewal.

Holy Trinity (2)


Bishop’s Stortford. The greatest thing it has done for the world was to give birth to Cecil Rhodes, and we may believe that the time will come when the house in which he was born will be a place of pilgrimage. Yet this small town had its place in history centuries before young Rhodes sat in the pews at St Michael’s listening to his father preach. In the public gardens is a mound on which it is believed a castle stood, Waytemore Castle, the fortress of Bishop Maurice of London, into whose hands the Conqueror entrusted this key position by the ford over the River Stort. The outer works and moats can be traced among the walks and flowerbeds.

The hilly streets of Bishop’s Stortford set off to advantage the fine old buildings among the new, many of them inns from the 16th to I7th centuries with overhanging storeys; the Boar’s Head and the timbered Black Lion still carrying on, the White Horse, with its plastered heraldic front of Italian work, an inn no longer.

Two fine churches, an old one and a new one, look to each other across the roofs of the town, both set on hills. The new church is All Saints, the old one is St Michael’s. The new one, looking out over the town from Hockerill, was designed by Mr Dykes Bower, and is one of the best modern churches we have seen. It has a magnificent rose window in the east with Christ in the centre surrounded by dazzling colours, rings of little suns, flames, and symbols. The west window has three great plain lancets in the tower. There are four high arches on each side of the nave, supported by round columns, the stone roof is spaced out in 125 compartments, and there is a charming oriel in the sanctuary. But the eye turns first and last in this town to the splendid 500 year-old church shooting up its pinnacled tower and spire from among the houses on the top of the other hill, summoning its worshippers with a peal often bells. The spire was added in 1812. They enter today by the very door people pushed open five centuries ago, and in one spandrel of the doorway is the same strange carving of the All-Seeing Eye, the Angel of the Resurrection sounding his trumpet in the opposite spandrel. The door opens on the six great bays of the spacious nave and aisles, where corbels of angels and apostles and medieval folk turn on us their stony gaze; we noticed a gardener, a cook, and a woodman among them. Save for a few changes and additions the church is wholly medieval, and has a Norman font which has been buried, having probably belonged to the church before this. There are 18 rich choir stalls, making a grand show with their traceried backs and panelled fronts, and misericords crowded with 15th-century faces and fancies, men and animals, one of them a rare early carving of a whale. The fine chancel screen is mainly 15th century, but the vaulting is new. The pulpit and a remarkable chest are Jacobean, the chest having an inside lock of 14 bolts which are as long as the lid. Both the north chapel and south vestry are Victorian. There is a tablet in this fine church to a man who made the River Stort navigable up to Bishop’s Stortford. He befriended Captain Cook, who showed his gratitude by making him known to navigators all over the world, naming after him Port Jackson in New South Wales and Point Jackson in New Zealand. The man whose name thus lives on the map was born George Jackson at Richmond in Yorkshire, but he died Sir George Duckett; here in the church is his memorial. We find no memorial to a butcher’s son born here in 1813, who did much to help photography by proving the use of collodion in developing films. He was Frederick Scott Archer, and his children were pensioned by the Crown because his invention brought him no profit but yielded vast profits for others. Much happier in his fortune was the famous physician who lies in the Quaker burial ground; he was Thomas Dimsdale, an Essex man who adopted Hertfordshire as his county, practised as a doctor in the county town, and sat in Parliament for it. He is remembered for his pioneering with inoculation for smallpox, and especially because Catherine of Russia invited him to her capital to inoculate herself and her son. It was in 1768, when the adventure was fraught with some peril, and the empress arranged for relays of horses from the capital to the border to aid the doctor’s escape in case of disaster. Happily all was well, and Dimsdale received £2000 for expenses, a fee of £10,000, and an allowance of £500 a year. He was laid in the burial ground of the Quakers here when he was 89 years old. One of the windows of St Michael’s is in memory of the old vicar Francis Rhodes, who was laid to rest here eight years after his delicate son had left for South Africa. He lived to hear the good news that his son had found health and strength and was working in the diamond digging, and he saw him home again entering on a graduate’s life at Oxford; but he died in 1878 before Cecil entered the Cape Parliament, and before he had formed his great plan of a British South Africa. In the birthplace we see his portrait looking down from the wall on the bed in which Cecil Rhodes was born. Bishop’s Stortford has been long in paying homage to its great son, but it has made amends, has bought the house he was born in and the house next door, and is developing both as a Cecil Rhodes Museum. The house is refurnished with pieces that either belonged to the family or belonged to the time, and it is an attractive place for any pilgrim interested in Rhodes of Rhodesia. In addition to the bed he was born in, one of eleven children, there is here the Bible his mother gave him, a fine old clock which was ticking in those days, a picturesque native drum used for communicating signals, a water colour he painted of a windjammer, and the uniforms he wore on ceremonial occasions - and never again. Cecil Rhodes’s birthplace has all the glamour and fascination that invests the homes of famous men, and it is gratifying to find how much this great empire-builder’s memory is honoured in his native town.

Flickr

St Joseph & The English Martyrs, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire

Despite this being the church I normally attended as a child I know very little about its history and neither Pevsner nor Mee mention it (perhaps a lingering anti Catholic prejudice?). So from the church's website a little history:

The history of the Catholic presence in Bishop's Stortford was recalled by Monsignor Stapleton Barnes of Cambridge, who delivered the homily at St. Joseph & The English Martyrs official opening on the 20th June 1906, when he recalled that St. Michael's Church had been built by Catholic Stortfordians...Then it was ended...Centuries passed. Then came the Second Spring. The town was a valley of bones, not a Catholic Church within miles and scarcely a single Catholic in the town. A Catholic priest would come once a quarter to say Mass in a room of a hired house, and half a dozen Catholics would come from the neighbourhood to worship God.

Next, on 4th May 1896, came five Sisters of St Mary of Namur who, with encouragement from Major Skeet and Cardinal Vaughan, then Archbishop of Westminster, had arrived to start a mission and school for Catholic girls.

cardinal vaughan
Cardinal Vaughan
The occasional visit by confessors and chaplains did not fully meet the spiritual needs and guidance of the Sisters or the embryonic Catholic community. The nearest Catholic Church was at Old Hall Green, near Ware, and that required a walk of approximately three hours each way.

These factors convinced the Sisters of a need for a local priest. This need was communicated to Cardinal Vaughan, via the Sisters' Mother General in Namur, and probably by Major Skeet too. This resulted in a visit of Bishop Brindle at the behest of Cardinal Vaughan.

Then a chance remark in early 1899 by Fr. Bennett, Provincial of the English Province of the Redemptorists, was made to Cardinal Vaughan.

Later in 1899 the Cardinal, a missionary at heart, invited the Redemptorist Order to accept the task of establishing a Catholic community in the town. Father Oliver Vassall-Phillips was chosen for the job which he started on 6th May 1900.

For a short while Mass was said in a small wooden shed in the grounds of the Windhill Lodge - the present site of St. Mary's Catholic School - where the Sisters had established themselves.

Then for a short while Masses were held in a private house in Windhill, opposite what is now the Old Monastery.

During these early days Fr. Vassall-Phillips had problems finding a house to accommodate the Redemptorist community and coupled with the lack of growth in attendance to Mass he resolved to go to meet his superior. He records how, whilst on his way to the rail station, he met Mr. Fehrenbach who persuaded him to stay. Mr. Fehrenbach, a German watchmaker, showed Father Vassall-Phillips a disused public house with some ground on the corner of Newtown Road and Portland Road.

This was duly purchased and a second hand prefabricated tin shed was erected on site by November 1900 and formally opened on the 7th November in the presence of Bishops Brindle and other visiting clergy and distinguished laymen and 300 other onlookers.

Thereafter progress was swift. In 1903 Major Skeet sold Windhill House to the Redemptorists, together with its surrounding land as well as the adjoining property, St Katherine's House, which became the site for the present St Joseph's Church.

A legacy inherited by Father Vassall-Phillips was used to build the new church to designs prepared by Mr Doran Webb. The plans were inspired by a church in the town of San Miniato, near Florence, which itself had been designed by Michelangelo.

The foundation stone of St.Joseph's was a stone from the original parish church of St Michael, encased in marble. It was laid by Cardinal Bourne on 13th July 1904.

The church was formally consecrated on 19th June. Cardinal Bourne felt it his duty to attend the solemn requiem sung for Cardinal Vaughan's Anniversary which fell on the same day, and so Bishop Fenton, auxiliary Bishop of Westminster formally consecrated St. Joseph's church on the 19th June 1906.

To be honest there's little of interest here but childhood memories of the boredom of Mass means it has a special place in my heart.

St Joseph & The English Martyrs (2)

Stations of the Cross

Nave (2)

Bishop’s Stortford. The greatest thing it has done for the world was to give birth to Cecil Rhodes, and we may believe that the time will come when the house in which he was born will be a place of pilgrimage. Yet this small town had its place in history centuries before young Rhodes sat in the pews at St Michael’s listening to his father preach. In the public gardens is a mound on which it is believed a castle stood, Waytemore Castle, the fortress of Bishop Maurice of London, into whose hands the Conqueror entrusted this key position by the ford over the River Stort. The outer works and moats can be traced among the walks and flowerbeds.

The hilly streets of Bishop’s Stortford set off to advantage the fine old buildings among the new, many of them inns from the 16th to I7th centuries with overhanging storeys; the Boar’s Head and the timbered Black Lion still carrying on, the White Horse, with its plastered heraldic front of Italian work, an inn no longer.
Two fine churches, an old one and a new one, look to each other across the roofs of the town, both set on hills. The new church is All Saints, the old one is St Michael’s. The new one, looking out over the town from Hockerill, was designed by Mr Dykes Bower, and is one of the best modern churches we have seen. It has a magnificent rose window in the east with Christ in the centre surrounded by dazzling colours, rings of little suns, flames, and symbols. The west window has three great plain lancets in the tower. There are four high arches on each side of the nave, supported by round columns, the stone roof is spaced out in 125 compartments, and there is a charming oriel in the sanctuary.
But the eye turns first and last in this town to the splendid 500 year-old church shooting up its pinnacled tower and spire from among the houses on the top of the other hill, summoning its worshippers with a peal often bells. The spire was added in 1812. They enter today by the very door people pushed open five centuries ago, and in one spandrel of the doorway is the same strange carving of the All-Seeing Eye, the Angel of the Resurrection sounding his trumpet in the opposite spandrel. The door opens on the six great bays of the spacious nave and aisles, where corbels of angels and apostles and medieval folk turn on us their stony gaze; we noticed a gardener, a cook, and a woodman among them. Save for a few changes and additions the church is wholly medieval, and has a Norman font which has been buried, having probably belonged to the church before this. There are 18 rich choir stalls, making a grand show with their traceried backs and panelled fronts, and misericords crowded with 15th-century faces and fancies, men and animals, one of them a rare early carving of a whale. The fine chancel screen is mainly 15th century, but the vaulting is new. The pulpit and a remarkable chest are Jacobean, the chest having an inside lock of 14 bolts which are as long as the lid. Both the north chapel and south vestry are Victorian.
There is a tablet in this fine church to a man who made the River Stort navigable up to Bishop’s Stortford. He befriended Captain Cook, who showed his gratitude by making him known to navigators all over the world, naming after him Port Jackson in New South Wales and Point Jackson in New Zealand. The man whose name thus lives on the map was born George Jackson at Richmond in Yorkshire, but he died Sir George Duckett; here in the church is his memorial. We find no memorial to a butcher’s son born here in 1813, who did much to help photography by proving the use of collodion in developing films. He was Frederick Scott Archer, and his children were pensioned by the Crown because his invention brought him no profit but yielded vast profits for others.
Much happier in his fortune was the famous physician who lies in the Quaker burial ground; he was Thomas Dimsdale, an Essex man who adopted Hertfordshire as his county, practised as a doctor in the county town, and sat in Parliament for it. He is remembered for his pioneering with inoculation for smallpox, and especially because Catherine of Russia invited him to her capital to inoculate herself and her son. It was in 1768, when the adventure was fraught with some peril, and the empress arranged for relays of horses from the capital to the border to aid the doctor’s escape in case of disaster. Happily all was well, and Dimsdale received £2000 for expenses, a fee of £10,000, and an allowance of £500 a year. He was laid in the burial ground of the Quakers here when he was 89 years old.
One of the windows of St Michael’s is in memory of the old vicar Francis Rhodes, who was laid to rest here eight years after his delicate son had left for South Africa. He lived to hear the good news that his son had found health and strength and was working in the diamond digging, and he saw him home again entering on a graduate’s life at Oxford; but he died in 1878 before Cecil entered the Cape Parliament, and before he had formed his great plan of a British South Africa. In the birthplace we see his portrait looking down from the wall on the bed in which Cecil Rhodes was born.
Bishop’s Stortford has been long in paying homage to its great son, but it has made amends, has bought the house he was born in and the house next door, and is developing both as a Cecil Rhodes Museum. The house is refurnished with pieces that either belonged to the family or belonged to the time, and it is an attractive place for any pilgrim interested in Rhodes of Rhodesia. In addition to the bed he was born in, one of eleven children, there is here the Bible his mother gave him, a fine old clock which was ticking in those days, a picturesque native drum used for communicating signals, a water colour he painted of a windjammer, and the uniforms he wore on ceremonial occasions - and never again.
Cecil Rhodes’s birthplace has all the glamour and fascination that invests the homes of famous men, and it is gratifying to find how much this great empire-builder’s memory is honoured in his native town.

All Saints, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire

I find that I have omitted entries  for three Stortford churches the first being All Saints situated in Hockerill. Built in 1937 it confronts St Michael across town and has a distinctly High Church feel about it - in fact I initially thought it a second Roman Catholic church. Not really to my taste (perhaps why I omitted an entry) but the east rose window is good of its kind.

ALL SAINTS, Stanstead Road, Hockerill. 1937, by S. E. Dykes Bower. In a position overlooking the whole town. Big square tower with hipped roof and three excessively elongated lancet windows. The two entrances into the aisles with curiously lobed arches. Interior with tall circular piers, a long aisleless chancel and a rose E window with C20 flowing tracery.

All Saints (2)

Rose window

Bishop’s Stortford. The greatest thing it has done for the world was to give birth to Cecil Rhodes, and we may believe that the time will come when the house in which he was born will be a place of pilgrimage. Yet this small town had its place in history centuries before young Rhodes sat in the pews at St Michael’s listening to his father preach. In the public gardens is a mound on which it is believed a castle stood, Waytemore Castle, the fortress of Bishop Maurice of London, into whose hands the Conqueror entrusted this key position by the ford over the River Stort. The outer works and moats can be traced among the walks and flowerbeds.

The hilly streets of Bishop’s Stortford set off to advantage the fine old buildings among the new, many of them inns from the 16th to I7th centuries with overhanging storeys; the Boar’s Head and the timbered Black Lion still carrying on, the White Horse, with its plastered heraldic front of Italian work, an inn no longer.

Two fine churches, an old one and a new one, look to each other across the roofs of the town, both set on hills. The new church is All Saints, the old one is St Michael’s. The new one, looking out over the town from Hockerill, was designed by Mr Dykes Bower, and is one of the best modern churches we have seen. It has a magnificent rose window in the east with Christ in the centre surrounded by dazzling colours, rings of little suns, flames, and symbols. The west window has three great plain lancets in the tower. There are four high arches on each side of the nave, supported by round columns, the stone roof is spaced out in 125 compartments, and there is a charming oriel in the sanctuary.

But the eye turns first and last in this town to the splendid 500 year-old church shooting up its pinnacled tower and spire from among the houses on the top of the other hill, summoning its worshippers with a peal often bells. The spire was added in 1812. They enter today by the very door people pushed open five centuries ago, and in one spandrel of the doorway is the same strange carving of the All-Seeing Eye, the Angel of the Resurrection sounding his trumpet in the opposite spandrel. The door opens on the six great bays of the spacious nave and aisles, where corbels of angels and apostles and medieval folk turn on us their stony gaze; we noticed a gardener, a cook, and a woodman among them. Save for a few changes and additions the church is wholly medieval, and has a Norman font which has been buried, having probably belonged to the church before this. There are 18 rich choir stalls, making a grand show with their traceried backs and panelled fronts, and misericords crowded with 15th-century faces and fancies, men and animals, one of them a rare early carving of a whale. The fine chancel screen is mainly 15th century, but the vaulting is new. The pulpit and a remarkable chest are Jacobean, the chest having an inside lock of 14 bolts which are as long as the lid. Both the north chapel and south vestry are Victorian.

There is a tablet in this fine church to a man who made the River Stort navigable up to Bishop’s Stortford. He befriended Captain Cook, who showed his gratitude by making him known to navigators all over the world, naming after him Port Jackson in New South Wales and Point Jackson in New Zealand. The man whose name thus lives on the map was born George Jackson at Richmond in Yorkshire, but he died Sir George Duckett; here in the church is his memorial. We find no memorial to a butcher’s son born here in 1813, who did much to help photography by proving the use of collodion in developing films. He was Frederick Scott Archer, and his children were pensioned by the Crown because his invention brought him no profit but yielded vast profits for others.

Much happier in his fortune was the famous physician who lies in the Quaker burial ground; he was Thomas Dimsdale, an Essex man who adopted Hertfordshire as his county, practised as a doctor in the county town, and sat in Parliament for it. He is remembered for his pioneering with inoculation for smallpox, and especially because Catherine of Russia invited him to her capital to inoculate herself and her son. It was in 1768, when the adventure was fraught with some peril, and the empress arranged for relays of horses from the capital to the border to aid the doctor’s escape in case of disaster. Happily all was well, and Dimsdale received £2000 for expenses, a fee of £10,000, and an allowance of £500 a year. He was laid in the burial ground of the Quakers here when he was 89 years old.

One of the windows of St Michael’s is in memory of the old vicar Francis Rhodes, who was laid to rest here eight years after his delicate son had left for South Africa. He lived to hear the good news that his son had found health and strength and was working in the diamond digging, and he saw him home again entering on a graduate’s life at Oxford; but he died in 1878 before Cecil entered the Cape Parliament, and before he had formed his great plan of a British South Africa. In the birthplace we see his portrait looking down from the wall on the bed in which Cecil Rhodes was born.

Bishop’s Stortford has been long in paying homage to its great son, but it has made amends, has bought the house he was born in and the house next door, and is developing both as a Cecil Rhodes Museum. The house is refurnished with pieces that either belonged to the family or belonged to the time, and it is an attractive place for any pilgrim interested in Rhodes of Rhodesia. In addition to the bed he was born in, one of eleven children, there is here the Bible his mother gave him, a fine old clock which was ticking in those days, a picturesque native drum used for communicating signals, a water colour he painted of a windjammer, and the uniforms he wore on ceremonial occasions - and never again.

Cecil Rhodes’s birthplace has all the glamour and fascination that invests the homes of famous men, and it is gratifying to find how much this great empire-builder’s memory is honoured in his native town.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Myland, Essex

St Michael was locked with no keyholder listed and I was rather pleased to find it so.

St Michael (3)

Neither Pevsner nor Mee bothered and I can't say I blame them.

Little Bromley, Essex

St Mary the Virgin is in the care of the CCT and was open when I visited. Very restored and rather plain I liked it for its simplicity and for the fact that it was open.

ST MARY THE VIRGIN. Nave and chancel in one, and W tower. The nave is Norman, see one N and two S windows. The chancel belongs to c. 1300, E window of three lights with intersected tracery, N and S cusped lancet windows. Plain C16 S porch. Of the same time the completion in brick of the C15 W tower. Diagonal buttresses, three-light W window. - FONT. Octagonal, stem with buttresses, bowl with the four Symbols of the Evangelists and four rosettes. The figure carving is very primitive. - COMMUNION RAILS, c. 1700, with twisted balusters. - PLATE. Paten, perhaps Elizabethan.

Charles Stuart King & Martyr (2)

Hanoverian arms

Christopher Wren

Another one Mee missed.

Hythe, Essex

St Leonard is in the care of the CCT so I was pretty sure it would be open but found it locked with two keyholders who were both out. Technically speaking finding it locked was my fault as a sign clearly stated that it is open on Saturday 11-3 and Tuesday 12-3 and that "at other times the key may be available", so I was at the right place but at the wrong time. To be fair it is opened by a voluntary custodian and I assume the opening times are dictated by his other commitments; also I don't think it's a particularly interior from what I've seen on the web.

ST LEONARD. Close to the street. Impressive but much restored. The battlements and pinnacles of the C14 W tower (angle buttresses) e.g. are new. The S porch is rebuilt, the (embattled) S aisle has new windows. The N side is more rewarding. N aisle of c. 1330, N chancel chapel of c. 1500. The N arcades show these dates clearly too. The piers of the Dec style are quatrefoil, as usual, the C15 piers are of four shafts and four hollows in the diagonals. The arch mouldings differ too. The C15 type appears in the S arcade, the W bay of the N arcade and both chancel chapels. Modest hammerbeam roof in the nave. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, with shields in quatrefoils and big leaves. - PLATE. Fine Mazer with gilt rim, 1521; large Elizabethan Cup; large Cup probably of 1624; Paten of 1713.

St Leonard (3)

St Leonard’s is at the Hythe, a 14th century church with a beautiful hammerbeam roof 400 years old, richly moulded, and well lit from the clerestory. Four angels which once held it up are in the vestry. The roofs of two chapels are a century older than the nave’s. There are six old chairs, a mazer bowl of 1521 with a silver rim, and an Elizabethan cup with two bands of ornament, and two medieval bells still ringing in the tower, from which a remarkable clock face of stone looks down. It is as old as 1500 and has carved spandrels. Two heads which once supported the roof beam still project from the walls at the chancel arch. The windows are attractive with 24 big figures, among them Thomas Becket, Helena, Ethelbert, the Confessor, and Charles Stuart. The door by which we come and go is 500 years old and pierced with holes made by the bullets of the Parliament men in the Civil War.

Greenstead, Essex

St Andrew was locked with no keyholder listed. With ugly cement rendering to the north and east and a spectacularly ugly south aisle tacked on to the nave I wasn't disappointed.

ST ANDREW. Thin W tower of c. 1600, with two- and three-light arched windows without any arches to the lights or any tracery. The W window is of the C18. Nave and chancel Norman. NW angle with Roman brick. Plain Norman N doorway. The S arcade and whole S aisle C19. - PLATE. Cup of the early C17.

St Andrew (3)

Mee missed it.

Great Bromley, Essex

When I first saw St George I thought I'd made a wrong turn and ended up in mid Suffolk for this is, as Pevsner puts it, "entirely in the East Anglian style", so much so that it out Suffolks some Suffolk churches. This is, without doubt, one of the top ten Essex churches and as such is must see.

My only quibble is that the brass is now inaccessible having been carpeted over - nevertheless wow!

ST GEORGE. A fine sight, proud and compact; entirely in the East Anglian style. Big W tower, tall nave with tall clerestory of closely set windows, short chancel. The W tower is the most spectacular piece. It starts at the base with a quatrefoil frieze, The buttresses are clasping but continue higher up as a combination of diagonal and angle buttresses. W doorway with fleurons in the jambs and voussoirs, hood-mould on an eagle and an angel. Five-light W window with panel tracery, three-light bell-openings with one transome. Stepped battlements and crocketed pinnacles. The S porch is all flushwork-panelled. It has a parapet instead of the more usual battlements. Niche above the doorway, three-light side openings. The S doorway has fleurons in one order and a foliage trail in the other, both in jambs and voussoirs. Above two re-set spandrel figures: Adam and Eve. The S chapel is also singled out as something special - by flushwork panelling at the base. Three-light windows in the aisles, with Perp panel tracery, the patterns different on the S and N sides.* Two-light windows with one transome in the chancel (the E window is C19). The clerestory windows of two-lights are oddly not in line with the arcades below. There are seven windows to three bays. The S arcade is C14, the N arcade C15. Both have octagonal piers, but the proportions differ characteristically. The S piers have capitals generously decorated with leaves. The westernmost instead uses figures of angels, lions, a head with tongue out and a dragon and a frog biting him. The nave is covered by one of the most magnificent roofs of Essex, a double-hammerbeam (cf. Castle Hedingham, Gestingthorpe). - S and N DOORS. Both elaborately traceried; c. 1500. - BRASS. William Bischopton d. 1432, figure of a priest, about 3 ft long, under an arch and a gable with concave sides, crocketed and originally pinnacled.

* N doorway minor, yet with three orders of fleurons in jambs and voussoirs.

St George (1)

SW Capital Dragon eating

Chancel window - Nicholson 1953 (3)

St George & the Draon by Shirley Morrison (1)

GREAT BROMLEY. A pleasant little place in the valley of the Frating Brook, it has a splendid church showing how wonderfully well the medieval workers in wood and stone could add beauty to the work of earlier days. The church is 15th century. The glorious tower with its pinnacles and great buttresses, and the clerestory with 14 great windows over 14th century arcades, were built in 1500. The high-pitched double-hammer roof with its richly moulded beams and curved braces belongs to the same period. The wall-posts of this lovely roof terminate in canopied niches in which saints stand on stone corbels carved with angels. The capitals of the piers in the nave are carved with oak leaves and grotesque beasts, one swallowing a man and one attacking a woman. There were many brasses on the stones in the floor but only two remain, one of William Bischopton, who died in 1432, and the other of John Hubbard, buried in 1537.

Here in our own century has been placed a window by American descendants of Gregory and Simon Stone, who left Great Bromley in 1634 to settle in the new land then growing up to be a New World. The window has a delightful picture of the ship which bore these courageous emigrants across the broad Atlantic, and in its scene is a stately figure of a Red Indian.

Perhaps best of all is the porch through which we come to see all this. It has a lovely doorway and a charming parapet, with big windows and walls of knapped flints in elaborately traceried stone panels; and it is a masterpiece of 15th century building.

Frating, Essex

Dedication unknown, Frating church is redundant and has been converted into a house. It lost its tower sometime in the 90s perhaps when it was converted.

CHURCH (Dedication unknown). Nave, chancel and W tower. The nave has a Norman window with Roman brick surround on the S side, and a Dec window which is repeated similarly on the N side. The chancel windows are of c. 1300. Plain timber S porch. W tower with thin diagonal buttresses, a three-light W window, and tall brick and flint panelling in the battlements. Pyramid roof. Inside, an early C16 recess in the chancel. The depressed pointed arch is adorned with fleurons, the spandrels with big leaves. - PLATE. Cup of 1584.

Dedication unknown (1)

FRATING. In good farming country, with cottages widely scattered, it has a small stone church with an embattled tower and a red and blue tiled spire. But in this tower are thin red tiles from Roman villas which stood here, some of them encircling a little Norman window peeping at us over the tiled roof of the 600-year-old porch. In the tower is a bell which was ringing at the time of Agincourt, and another which would ring with it at the coming of the Tudor dynasty. There is an Easter Sepulchre 400 years old, and the altar tomb in alabaster and black marble of Thomas Bendish, who died in the same year as Queen Elizabeth.

St John, Colchester

I include St John for the same reason people climb Everest.

ST JOHN, Ipswich Road. 1864 by Arthur Blomfield (GR) and still with the grit which he possessed in his youth. Red brick with yellow and blue bricks and stone dressings. Nave and chancel. Small and low W baptistery with timber porches l. and r., and the weirdest (and most tasteless) way to connect this with a bellcote which is circular, with a conical roof and a kind of open lantern with thick short black columns.

St John (1)

Mee missed it.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Butt Road Roman Chapel, Colchester, Essex

In the mid to late 1970's a new police station was built in Butts Road and Colchester's oldest church and cemetery, and purportedly Britain's, was discovered. Dating back to AD 320-40 over 700 graves were uncovered, most of which dated back to the 4th century (others were from earlier pagan burials overlaid in later times), and consisted of a mix of wooden and lead coffins, hollowed tree trunks and various other materials.

It had an apsidal chancel and wooden N & S arcades which are shown by oak blocks on the site whilst concrete strips replace the missing foundations.

It is situated on a busy roundabout by a hideous police station, very little remains and it seems to be neglected - the information table was almost illegible - but this is still an extraordinary place outdating Essex's previously oldest church, St Andrew, Greensted, by 600 years; it's oddly atmospheric.

Whilst reading up on the Roman Chapel I found this site which catologues architectural atrocities in Colchester - it's not been updated since before Christmas and even though I'm not a resident of Colchester I do hope it keeps going.

Roman Chapel (1)

Roman Chapel

Roman Chapel (2)


Roman Chapel (3)

Obviously neither Pevsner nor Mee covered Butts Road as it hadn't been excavated.

Alresford, Essex

A week ago today I went on an ambitious trip intending to visit 13 churches (most of which I assumed would be locked) in and around Colchester; when I arrived at my first stop, Little Bromley, I discovered that my battery was in its charger at home - so on Wednesday I tried again.

St Peter is a ruin and rather a nice one. Following a major fire in 1971 it was abandoned but having been Grade II listed in 1966 it is now in the care of Essex County Council. A quick Google reveals all sorts of nonsense about it being used for witchcraft rituals and apparently it's a huge draw for those interested in the paranormal - all bollocks of course but here's a hilarious investigation.

It's actually more attractive now than when it was extant although it's a shame to lose Mee's Morris chancel window.

CHURCH. Nave, lower (rebuilt) chancel, and (rebuilt) belfry Roman brick quoins at the W end date the nave as Norman. Nice W gallery with twisted balusters, C18.

St Peter (6)

St Peter (5)

ALRESFORD. A scattered little place on high tableland, Nature has endowed it with fine woods round Alresford Hall, and round the old farmhouse called Tenpenny Brook, which has timbers that have lasted 400 years. A little way off (a mile to the west) a few fragments of brick and tessellated paving mark the site of a Roman house; we have seen Samian ware and painted plaster from it in Colchester Museum. A long lane leads us to the little church standing with a cross to village heroes in the loneliness of the fields. The shingled spire of the belfry rises above the walls the Normans built, and there are Roman tiles set in the corners of the nave. Over the altar is a lovely William Morris window.

Flickr.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Agatha Christie writes for the News of the World

Arthur Hepburn Hastie, a well-known London solicitor, has obtained a divorce from his wife on the grounds of adultery with Major Rankin, of the Queensland contingent in South Africa, who was made co-respondent.

A MILITARY BLACKGUARD

BETRAYS A FRIENDS TRUST.
RESULT-DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS.
               LONDON, March 29.

Major Rankin, of the Queensland Contingent,may be a very brave soldier, but his morals are not up the highest standard.

If you take a man's hand in friendship and put your legs under his mahogany, it is incumbent on you not to poach on his matrimonial preserves.

The gallant Major, like any ordinary blackguard, forgot this principle, and the result is that Mr Arthur Hepburn Hastie has got a decree nisi, and has, in obtaining it, showed the Major up in a most ridiculous light. Mr Hastie, who is a solicitor, met the Major, who had been invalided home from South Africa, and subsequently dined and wined the "gentleman in kharki" at his Mayfair residence. Just after Christmas last year Mr Hastie left London for a week's shooting in Wales, his wife remaining in town. A business telegram recalled Hastie from Wales the day after he got there, and going to his house, he arrived on the doorstep soon after 3 a.m. He was kept out in the cold some time, but finally obtained admittance, and went up to his wife's room. The door was locked, but his insistent raps brought Mrs Hastie to the door which she unlocked, and then jumped back into bed. The room was in darkness, and on turning on the electric light Mr Hastie at first saw nothing to raise his suspicions. Happening, however, to glance at a gig cheval-glass in the room, he saw a pair of stockinged feet, and reconnoitering further discovered Rankin in an advanced stage of deshabille. Hastie called for his man-servant with a view to identifying the intruder and to a subsequent chucking-out process. But the gallant Major required no incentive to departure. He stood not upon the order of his going , but, in all his disarray, fled from the house. Mrs Hastie left next morning, and wrote to her husband expressing regret for what had occurred. The Major, when served with a citation, had the impertinence to express himself as being "very sorry" and to inquire whether there was "any chance of a reconciliation"!

Mrs Hastie, it appears, had once before given her husband grave cause to suspect her fidelity,and, in fact he had previously filed a petition against her. She, however, protested her innocence so well that he at length decided that she could not be guilty, and abandoned the proceedings.