Friday, 28 January 2011

Belchamp Otten, Essex

After a church viewing lay-off of over a month I re-started on Wednesday and visited this rather extraordinary church which, for all its oddness, is rather alluring. The chancel and nave appear to be original but the tower must have fallen and a concrete stub has been subsequently added.

The interior has been stripped right back to the essentials but retains a gallery pew, box pews, some old glass, an ancient coffin lid set in the chancel floor and a wonderful Norman south door - on the surface disappointing but once scratched deeply rewarding.

ST ETHELBERT AND ALL SAINTS. The nave is Norman, see the S doorway. It has two orders of columns with beaded spiral bands, decorated scalloped capitals and zigzag ornament in the arch. The windows are Perp. C19 belfry on two posts with cross-beams and arched braces. Early C19 BOX PEWS and NW GALLERY. - PULPIT. Simple with some blank arcading, c.1600. - COMMUNION RAIL with twisted balusters, c.1700. - PLATE. Cup and Paten of 1567. 

St Ethlebert & All Saints

Norman doorway

Mee says:

BELCHAMP OTTEN. Seven centuries have each brought something new to its little church, which is guarded at the gate by a great walnut tree. The nave is 12th century, the chancel 13th, the porch and the chancel arch 14th, the font with its battlemented rim 15th, the little panelled pulpit 16th or 17th, the altar rails and the small gallery-pew 18th. So has the wheel of time turned within these ancient walls; and as if to surprise us still more there is a modern belfry resting on a 15th century  cross-beam supported by two 17th century posts. The Norman south doorway is lined with zigzags and spirally fluted columns; and in several windows are interesting fragments of medieval glass, showing chiefly tabernacle work.It is only a very small village, but it is rich in houses and farms from Stuart England, some timber-framed and some with old panelling.

Flickr set.

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