Saturday, 28 September 2013

Fovant, Wiltshire

St George is curious - the nave, chancel, S aisle & chapel look and feel new build but the S chapel has a, restored, Norman door and the tower is plainly old. On the whole it's a pretty building (actually the tower is fantastic and the setting perfect) but the interior is dull.

But what really struck me here were the 60 CWGC headstones (59 WWI & 1 WWII) which number I rarely come across at home apart from churches/cemeteries near airbases. Salisbury Plain has always been a military training zone and in WWI Fovant was a staging post for many regiments about to be posted to the front and the number of Australian headstones was particularly poignant; logistically impossible to repatriate they're remembered here and are still lovingly maintained; this was a churchyard that made me stop and think.

Apparently the badges of the regiments based here have been carved into the chalk on a ridge overlooking the village but my route missed it.


Priest's door (2)

George Rede 1492 (1)

Fovant. It has a little river running by the village street and reflecting bright gardens, and cut on the downs above it is an inescapable reminder of World War I, the badges of the regiments encamped here.

The church is 15th century, and its splendid turreted tower has a beautiful pierced and embattled parapet, niches with canopies, angels with spread wings, stone lattice windows in the belfry, fierce looking gargoyles, a scratch-dial, and a pointed doorway with angels. A wall brass in the chancel records the building of the tower. It is in memory of George Rede who was rector at the time, and shows the Annunciation; the rector with his rosary over his arm is kneeling behind the Madonna, rays of light pouring down on her, the paraclete in a form of a bird (which looks astonishingly like a duck!) flying towards her. The angel is kneeling at her feet, and the background is patterned with flowers. There is a small and unusual Norman doorway in the chancel, with an arch decorated with interlaced strapwork. It has four pillars with carved capitals. Grotesques grin down from the old windows, and many of the roof brackets have deeply carved foliage.

On a gable at the east end of the church is a Norman cross with a horseshoe carved on it in relief; it was found during restoration.

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