Saturday, 26 May 2012

Halford, Warwickshire

St Mary’s Church
The Fosse Way, the Roman road which runs from Exeter to Lincoln passes through the village of Halford at a crossing point of the River Stour so it is possible Christianity first came to the area with the Romans. The church dates back to the 12th century of which the north doorway and the chancel arch still remain.

The picture below show the south elevation of the church, however the main entrance is through the old north doorway.

A caption inside the church notes that the Tympanum (the carved stone above the door) is inn Romanesque style and is unlike any other in England, depicting the Archangel Gabriel holding his message at the Annunciation. It is reminiscent of manuscript paintings from the 12th century

The head stones on the columns either side of the north doorway show St Peter’s Head above a cockerel on the right and St David’s Head with his sling beside a lion and griffin (see below). Both these carvings and the Tympanum would have been highly coloured in Medieval times.

The chancel arch is also of Romanesque style and dates from the 12th century although to my uneducated eye it appears to have undergone substantial restoration.

The carving (shown below) is in the wall to the right of the chancel arch and shows the angel bringing the message of the Annunciation to Mary. On the opposite side there would have been a statue of the Virgin facing the angel. However all that remains is a pillar – the statue was most likely destroyed during the Civil War in he 1640’s.

To the south side of the chancel there is a circular hagioscope through which the congregation in the chapel side of the church could view the High Altar. In 185-6 it was filled in with a stone pierced with a cross

The Cotswold stone font in the Decorated style and is believed to date from the 14th century . The carved wooden hood is 15th century in the Perpendicular style and shows six Bishops heads wearing mitres.