Thursday, 26 July 2012

West Bergholt, Essex

I set off to cover the remaining villages surrounding Colchester with low expectations and wasn't disappointed - 6 out of 9 churches visited were locked and 1 was inaccessible unless I paid to visit Colchester Zoo.

First up was the old church of St Mary, now in the care of the CCT, which, despite a notice stating that it was open to all, was firmly padlocked (in my experience this is unusual for a CCT church). I'm not sure that I missed much as a peer through the plain windows showed a pretty stripped out interior.

ST MARY. Nave, lower chancel, belfry, and early C14 S aisle with Dec windows and low arcade of octagonal piers and double-chamfered arches. Early C18 W gallery on Tuscan columns with triglyph frieze.

St Mary the Virgin in Bergholt itself is an ugly Victorian chapel.

St Mary (2)

St Mary the Virgin (2)

WEST BERGHOLT. Stone Age men dropped implements here which our own generation has picked up, and signs of the Romans have come to light, so old is this village near Colchester. One of its farms has been using two doorways for 500 years, and another is 16th century. The church stands near a fine red house and most of it is 600 years old. Its wooden turret may be 15th century, but the work of the 14th century men is seen in the arches of the nave, the timbers ofthe porch, and the moulded plates in the roofs. There is an old door with ironwork by a long-forgotten smith, a font bowl possibly 700 years old, a quaint little gallery with the royal arms, a few scraps of glass as old as the church, and a big Tudor chest with six hinges. At each end of the building is panelling of the 17th century about the same age as the fine lectern with its elaborate decoration.


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