Thursday, 22 October 2009

Layer upon layer of ...

East Shefford, Berkshire, originally uploaded by Vitrearum.

medieval wallpaintings. The tiny church of East Shefford in Berkshire, now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust has some fascinating wallpaintings in the nave. The east wall of the nave around the thirteenth century chancel arch, has two distinct phases of wallpaintings. The chancel arch cuts through a striking Adoration of the Magi dating from c.1100 which was originally painted around an earlier narrower arch. In the later Middle Ages these early paintings would have been covered by the rood screen and loft, the position of which can easily worked out by gaps in the paintwork. Above where the rood loft would have been, are a series of 15th century paintings which formed a backdrop for the rood and rood beam. The shadow of the lost rood beam is clearly shown and the lost rood group (which was quite small and presumably of wood) is outlined in red paint. Around that are three bold sacred monograms. O wonderful sequence of paintings they are and of course never seen together until they were all uncovered in the nineteenth century.

East Shefford, Berkshire

The chancel at East Shefford is also rather interesting too. The floor has been relaid with replica tiles, based on one or surviving medieval examples and there are other interesting features which will have to wait for another post.
East Shefford, Berkshire

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

St Michael panel at South Cove

As I was surfing around on Flickr I came across Gil Barlow's lovely photo of the St Michael panel at South Cove in Suffolk. The painted panel dates from the last quarter of the fifteenth century and fills the former entrance to the rood loft. The colouring is so vibrant as the entrance was plastered over and has only fairly recently been uncovered.

Chancel of Coates

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire, originally uploaded by Vitrearum.

A response to the enquiry by Canon Tallis about the seating of the chancel at Coates. As you can see there is nothing to suggest the medieval seating arrangements here. The back of the screen is traceried and there is no evidence of returned stalls facing east. Even the floor appears to be fairly new, rather different than that in the nave!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Comment moderation

St Michael, originally uploaded by Simon_K.

I've decided to cease moderating comments on this blog. Mostly because I'm very slow at moderating them and I'm sure this must cause you all frustration. Also because I feel, given the gentility of the readership, it is highly unlikely that I will get a scurilous comment!

The photograph is taken from Simon Knott's glorious Flickr photostream. He has 23,000 photos on it, the vast majority of churches. This particular shot is a detail of the fifteenth century screen at Binham priory in Norfolk, where the medieval imagery was whitewashed over with texts by the reformers. Gradually the figures are reappearing!!

Coates by Stow - a few more photos.

St Edith's, Coates, Lincolnshire

This view of the church from the south was taken by Tudor Barlow. The simple two-cell plan is evident, the south door with its zigzag ornament revealing that the church is essentially Norman. Notice also the tiny little two-light window that illuminates the rood stair.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire
There are one or two fragments of medieval glass in the side windows of nave and chancel, including this shield of Hansard held by a disembodied hand and small figures of St Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

There are one or two rather nice monuments in the chancel too, mostly commemorating the Butler family. Among them this rather poignant brass commemorating William Butler and his wife Elizabeth and their only child baby Priscilla. Priscilla is show wrapped in swaddling clothes. William died in 1590 at the age of 26.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire 11

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire 12
Lastly I noticed that Gordon Plumb had this detail of the loft decoration, a carved vine. This part of the screen is a Victorian copy of the medieval original, but it demonstrates the quality of the medieval original.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Time stood still...

... at Coates-by-Stow in Lincolnshire.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

The church of St Edith Coates-by-Stow appears to have avoided the notice of the sixteenth century reformers and has preserved it's pre-Reformation fittings more-or-less intact.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

It's in a fairly isolated spot, with only a farm for company, so it's perhaps no surprise it is so well preserved. There is nothing particularly fancy about the furnishings of this building, and as such they are probably fairly representative of the medieval furnishings many country churches have lost. The church itself is essentially a Norman building, rebuilt in the fourteenth century. Windows in the nave and the tub font betray the Norman origins of the building. Like many churches of this period it was refurnished in the fifteenth century. And the rood screen, complete with its loft, a traceried pulpit and poppy head pews all date from this one campaign.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

The loft, which has a projecting desk in the centre, perhaps used for reading the Gospel? or bidding the bedes, is backed with a simple plank typanum. The rood was evidently painted onto this typanum, as the head of Our Lady appears ghostlike against the worn oak background. The centre part of the typanum, where the cross would have appeared, has sadly been renewed.

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

Coates by Stow, Lincolnshire

The dado of the screen and the loft are decorated with blank tracery and delicate carved foliage. The glorious silvery oak of the furniture, mixed with the stone and brick of the floors makes for an evocative building with immense charm and texture.

I am in the middle of packing at the moment. In two weeks time we move to Saxilby near Lincoln, where I am to be assistant curate in the Saxilby group of parishes. In the New Year the Stow group of parishes, including Coates-by-Stow, will added to this group. I'm looking forward to the immense privilege of celebrating mass in this lovely building.