Friday, 27 September 2013

Dinton, Wiltshire

One of my favourites of the day; St Mary, a cruciform gem set on a green overlooking the village, is another stunner even though it has been violently restored. Inside there's a good font, two interesting brass inscriptions, a majollica Madonna & Child and fragments of glass in the chancel but it's been thoroughly scrubbed and is a tad anodyne. It is, however, for the whole rather than the parts that I liked this church (plus I'm a sucker for a cruciform church).

The inscriptions read:

Here lies dear Jo: his parents love and joy
That most pretty and ingenuous boy
His matchless soul is not yet forgotten
Tho here the lovely body dead and rotten
Ages to come may wonder at his fame
And here his death by shameful malice came
How spightful some did use him and how rude
Grife will not let me write but now conclude
To God for ever all praise be given
Since we hope he is with him in Heaven
IA 23 December 1716


From Earth we came to Earth we must return
Witness this Earth that lies within this urn
Begot by Earth born also of Earth’s womb
74 years lived Earth now
Earth’s his tomb
But from this
Earth to Heaven Earth’s soul is gone
Roger Earth Armiger
Obit 3rd Die Aprilis 1634

Jo 1716 (2)


 Roger Earth 1634 (2)

Dinton. It has a dark little lane which brings us to Dinton Beeches, and an ancient British fort. It has a cottage in which a friend of Milton is said to have been born, and a house which was the home of a great historic figure. Its church, reached by a path arched over by tall yews, has been here 700 years, with a central tower and a pointed doorway with carved capitals. An old scratch-dial is on the walls. The doorway opens into a lofty nave linked with the chancel by an impressive group of tower arches, with a vaulted roof resting on corbels carved with the symbols of the Four Evangelists. The chancel has seven windows with beautiful 14th century tracery, and the square grey font with little arches round it is as old as the church.

The ancient house at one end of the village was the home of Edward Hyde, first Lord Clarendon, who was born here in 1609. The author of The History of the Great Rebellion, who became Lord Chancellor under Charles the Second and whose daughter Anne  married the Duke of York, afterwards James the Second, and was the mother of two queens, Mary the Second, wife of William of Orange, and Queen Anne.

Dinton was also the birthplace, in 1596, of the musician Henry Lawes who invited Milton to write the masque Camus, for which he himself composed the music, and in which he played the part of the Attendant Spirit when it was first performed at Ludlow Castle, and Milton honoured him with the lines:

Harry, whose tuneful and well measured song
First taught our English music how to span
Words with just note and accent - not to scan
With Midas ears, committing short and long.

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