Friday, 17 August 2012

Theydon Bois, Essex

St Mary the Virgin is a dogs dinner of a building. I'm afraid I can find no redeeming features as it's locked and, to be honest, I'm not sure I'd want to set foot in this monstrosity.

ST MARY. By Sydney Smirke, 1850. A small rather ugly brick church, with an unconventional SW tower with spire. The roof goes low down on the s side and has dormer windows. - PULPIT. Nice piece in the C18 style with back panels and a small canopy. By Paul Waterhouse.

St Mary the Virgin (2)

It's marginally better in B&W

St Mary the Virgin (2.1)

THEYDON BOIS. Hereabouts is the most beautiful piece of the forest of Epping; the village has part of it as a great green, round which old cottages stand. In the churchyard are two stately oaks. The church, not yet a hundred years old, was built by Sydney Smirke, architect of the impressive Reading Room of the British Museum, his contribution to the masterpiece of his brother Robert. The low spire is covered with copper, and in the red brick tower are two bells from the medieval church which stood in the valley of the Roding. Also in the tower is a remarkable board painted with the arms of James the First, with the king’s head below. A fine example of modern woodwork is the walnut pulpit by Paul Waterhouse, its sounding-board of simple dignity. There is good modern glass with striking portraits of Saint Hubert and Saint Nicholas.

One of the windows is in memory of that noble pioneer woman Frances Mary Buss, who lies in the churchyard. It shows the scene in Pilgrim’s Progress in which the Interpreter bids his servant Great-heart conduct Christiana and her companions to the house called Beautiful, "and they went singing." Frances Buss was the daughter of a Punch artist and illustrator of books. In the middle of last century she started a school for girls in Kentish Town and developed a new system which revolutionised the methods of teaching. When she died in 1894 her North London Collegiate School was one of the most famous secondary schools in England.


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