Saturday, 17 July 2010

Elmdon, Essex

St Nicholas is enormous and strangely incongruous in the lovely village of Elmdon, as if it has been transplanted from a much larger village. That said it is utterly awesome with a huge array of corbels (although many are plainly Victorian) and gargoyles and some excellent carving on the outside with a pretty spectacular interior.

The church is on an ancient Roman site with elements remaining from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries but was basically rebuilt in 1879/80; however the restoration, to my untrained eye, was sympathetically done and unlike many others isn't too intrusive. The tower is all 15th century apart from Victorian battlements.

Inside the main attraction, to me, were the brasses and some of the glass although I was generally impressed with the overall church furnishings.

ST NICHOLAS. 1852 and 1879, except for the W tower which dates from the C15 (angle-buttresses and battlements). - PLATE. Paten on foot of 1633; Cup of 1634. - MONUMENTS. Tomb-chest probably of Sir Thomas Meade d. 1585. Three decorated quatrefoils and shields, under depressed arch, with quatrefoil decoration inside, quatrefoil frieze over, and cresting. Large coat of arms against the back-wall of the recess. - Brass to a man and two wives, c. 1530, the ļ¬gures 2 ft 6 ins. long (chancel).

Unknown C16th brass

William Lucas c1460

C17th glass

Arthur says:
ELMDON. It is charming, tucked away on the chalk hills close to Cambridgeshire. Its tower, with quaint gargoyles 500 years old could tell a fine tale of village comings and goings. It saw the building of the Tudor cottages below, with their carved bargeboards and ornamental plaster bands; it saw the coming of an Elizabethan judge to sleep his last sleep here; and it has seen the rest of the church so refashioned that it is almost a modern building. Only one thing it has not seen - the making of the earthwork which hides in a grove of trees up the hill. The church has much ornament in the old style, including among its heads a monk and a demon; and it has kept a 15th century piscina with an elaborate arch and two longhaired heads. But the chief interest is in its ancient monuments, two brasses and an imposing altar tomb. The tomb is adorned with shields on the canopy and sides, and in it sleeps Judge Thomas Meade, who died three years before the Armada. One of the brasses shows a Tudor man in a furlined cloak, with his two wives and a group of children. Their names are not recorded; but we know that the four boys and eight girls on the other brass are the children of Thomas Crawley, who died in 1559 after founding a free school in the village.

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