Saturday, 20 November 2010

Ifield, West Sussex

St Margaret's Church

The sun was shining in the wrong direction to get a good photograph of the church from the Lych Gate at the east end of the church yard.

St Margaret's Church has a chancel, wide nave with a narrow clerestory above and narrow three-bay aisles on the north and south sides, a tall tower (topped with a spire) at the west end and a porch on the north side. The nave, chancel and chancel arch all date from the 13th century.

The chancel arch dates from around 1300.

Above the altar is an ancient dove which it is thought may come from the earlier wooden church.

Under the eastern arches of the nave there are two worn recumbent effigies on tombchests, traditionally said to be Sir John de Ifield and his wife, Margaret. The knight, his feet on a lion, dates from about 1340 and the woman is about ten years later.

A piscena near the entrance at the north porch. It contains three Holy Oils.

There are three kinds of sacred oils, all of which signify the work of the Holy Spirit and symbolize it in that oil "serves to sweeten, to strengthen, to render supple" (Catholic Encyclopedia). The three holy oils are:

The Oil of Catechumens ("Oleum Catechumenorum" or "Oleum Sanctum") used in Baptism along with water, in the consecration of churches, in the blessing of Altars, in the ordination of priests, and, sometimes, in the crowning of Catholic kings and queens.

The Holy Chrism ("Sanctum Chrisma") or "Oil of Gladness," which is olive oil mixed with a small amount of balm or balsam. It is used in Confirmation, Baptism, in the consecration of a Bishop, the consecration of a various things such as churches, chalices, patens, and bells.

The Oil of the Sick ("Oleum Infirmorum"), which is used in Unction

The font is by far the oldest feature of the church, dating from the late 12th (1180) century. Made of local marble (known as Sussex clunch), it has an intricately carved stem flanked by four columns topped with delicate leaf-like capitals and roll mouldings, ornamentation uncommon on a Norman-era font. Its form is otherwise typical: a deep square bowl supported by a wide central column and four narrower shafts.

This early nineteenth century water colour shows the church with an earlier timber bell turret.

The painting above shows a small timbered west turret. In 1847 a new tower was built but this was replaced again in 1883 by a tower with a pyramid spire at the west end. The tower has plain lancets and is rendered like the rest of the church.

The three tall lancet windows on the lower portion of the tower depict the Resurrection, Crucifixion and Ascension of Jesus Christ respectively.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Preston on Stour, Warwickshire

St Mary’s Church

Preston on Stour is actually off the main road but well worth the visit. It has a collection of old houses including this black and white one on the green. It still retains a village shop and post office-

The church has medieval origins but the oldest part now is the late 15th century buttressed tower. The remainder of the church from that period was subject to major restoration. In 1756 a new entrance to the chuch was created at the foot of the tower beneath the perpendicular west window.

The rest of the church was almost entirely rebuilt between 1753-57 the work being carried out by Edward and Thomas Woodward of Chipping Camden under the supervision of James West (1702-1772) an antiquary and barrister of the Inner Temple who bought the nearby Alscot Estate in 1747.

The panelled timber of the 15th century nave roof with its carved bosses was preserved but restored. The plastered segmented vaulted ceiling of the chancel is, however, typical of the mid-18th century. The whole of the chancel was completely rebuilt as part of the restoration. The chancel is almost the full width of the nave.

Simon Jenkins likens the interior to a 18th century family chapel and indeed there are many memorials to the West family.

The painted glass in the chancel windows includes some, in the east window dated 1605 and 1632 from the Netherlands.

The glass in the north and south windows of the chancel is 17th century.

The south window shows St George in Renaissance armour - his face is said to be that of King Charles.

The nave is lit by new side windows with clear class which allows sunlight shine in. At the west end is a Georgian gallery in front of the tower arch.

The south face of the church.

The 18th century limestone gateposts on the east side of the churchyard. The wrought iron gates open onto an avenue of yew trees. Similar gates can be seen at the west entrance in front of the tower.

The church is an excelent example of the early 18th century Gothic revival style albeit to the design of a mason rather than an architect.

Alderminster, Warwickshire

The Church of St Mary and The Holy Cross

The church had just been opened as I arrived one Saturday morning.
The earliest part of the church dates back to the 12th century, with the chancel and tower dating from the 13th century. Work was also carried out in the 14th century.

The church is actually two churches in one with the Church of the Holy Cross with an alter in the nave under the tower and the Conventual Church of Our Lady in the chancel.

Conventual Church is a church attached or belonging to a convent or monastery. In this case having startd life as the parish church in the early 12 century, the church became a daughter house to Pershore Abbey in 1193.

The picture shows the chancel with the nave alter in the foreground.

In the 15 century a small chapel was added to the north of the chancel. This was the Chapel of The Holy Cross. However this was destroyed along with other monastic buildings in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monastries.

In 1873 and 1884 a major restoration was carried out with significant re-building although old materials and features were re-used.

The picture below shows a 13th century piscina (stone basin) which was incorporated into the south wall of the chancel during the restoration work.

An aumbry (built in cupboard) also 13th century in the north wall of the chancel. This no longer has the wooden frame or doors. It is used for Communion Vessels.