Thursday, 20 June 2013

Salford, Oxfordshire

St Mary's Church

The church was originally Norman but was re-built by the Oxford Diocesan architect, and Gothic Revivalist G.E. Street in 1854.

 The south elevation .

The fine stone font dates from the 12th century….

…as does parts of the north and south doorways. Above the north doorway is part of a Norman tympanum with a central Maltese cross flanked by a lion and a centaur – the latter representing Sagittarius, the Archer.

A final view of the north elevation.

Sunday, 9 June 2013


The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin

We spent an hour in Westerham on Saturday (and had one of the best Cream teas ever at 'Food for Thought' on the Green) but also had a quick look in the church. Howveer whilst having tea we looked out over the green and the two statues.

Firstly Winston Churchill. A plaque on the back says 'The plinth was presented by Marshall Tito and the people of Yugoslavia as a symbol of Yugoslav soli and in homage to Sir Winston Churchill's leadership in the War, July 23 1969'. The statue was sculpted by Oscar Nemon, a Croatian sculptor who produced a series of more than a dozen public statues of Sir Winston Churchill.

The second statue is of Major General James Wolfe who was born in Westerham on 2 January 1727 and died in the Battle of Quebeck, 13 September 1759. The statue was designed by Derwent Wood and erected in 1911. James Wolfe was born at the near by Quebec House (which at the time was the  Vicarage). William Pitt the Elder chose Wolfe to lead the British assault on Quebec City in 1759.  

The British army laid siege to Quebec for three months. After an extensive yet inconclusive bombardment of the city, Wolfe then led 200 ships with 9,000 soldiers and 18,000 sailors on a very bold and risky amphibious landing at the base of the cliffs west of Quebec along the St. Lawrence River. His army, with two small cannons, scaled the cliffs early on the morning of September 13, 1759, surprising the French under the command of the Marquis de Montcalm, who thought the cliffs would be unclimbable. Faced with the possibility that the British would haul more cannons up the cliffs and knock down the city's remaining walls, the French fought the British on the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. They were defeated after just fifteen minutes of battle, but when Wolfe began to move forward, he was shot twice in the chest. He reportedly heard cries of "They run," and thus died content that the victory had been achieved. Source:

The church is just behind the green. The earliest parts of the present building date from the 14th century and it has been added to and modified many times over the years. The oldest part is the tower.

The fourteenth century spiral staircase in the tower is one of only two in England from this era  to turn unusually to the left.

The font dates from the 14th century. The Church registers record the baptism of General James Wolfe  and three of Sir Winston Churchill's grandchildren in this same font.

The Westerham War Memorial is in the Churchyard.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Alcester Churches

St Mary and All Saints, Haselor
Haselor is a small village on the banks of the River Alne, a mile and a half of the main Stratford to Alcester road.

The church is approached from a path in the village.

To the right of the path is what is thought to be the base of the original village cross destroyed during the Reformation. It is not in its original position but is thought to be close to it.

The church stands on a hill overlooking the village. It comprises, nave, chancel,  south aisle and a low tower. The guide book suggests that this was probably a site of pagan worship that was Christianised (as is often the case of hill top churches).

The present building is dated to after the Norman Conquest. The font is Norman, said to be carved from a single block of coolite from the Cotswolds in the 11th century. 

St Mary the Virgin, Kinwarton
Kinwarton is a small settlement north east of Alcester in the Alne Valley. The church dates from the 13th century but was substantially rebuilt in the mid 19th century by the Rev Seymour.
In the churchyard, close to the entrance gate is a Preaching Cross, thought to date from the late 11th century. It now forms part of a more modern memorial to the Rev Seymour’s wife, Fanny.  They were normally sited on a main highway as a place where preaching took place. It has a Celtic knot carved on three faces.

The church is quite small, seating about 60. Records show it was built in 1291 and consecrated in July 1316 by the Bishop of Worcester. Rev Richard Seymour carried out extensive rebuilding in 1850.

The font is thought to be as old as the building. The lid has staples and a special mechanism to enable it to be padlocked to deter thieves. They would have been after the holy water which was left in the font between baptisms but was also sought for sinister purposes especially witchcraft.

The south chancel window contains medieval glass from the 14th century. The Virgin Mary holds the infant Jesus in one arm and a lily in the other. The fleur de lys and colour blue are also symbolic.

The window in the north chancel wall is late Victorian from the Kempe studio and commemorates Rev Seymour who was rector at St Mary’s for 42 years and later became a Canon of Worcester Cathedral.

Two other notable features are a wooden window frame which is rare in a church building. It is made of oak and is thought to have replaced an earlier 14th century stone window frame.
The bronze plaque commemorates the crew of a Wellington Bomber, killed in 1944. Kenneth Wakefield, the pilot, had married the daughter of the then Rector of Kinwarton at the outbreak of the war.

In a field adjacent to the church is a Dovecote, looked after by the National Trust. 

This is a rare example of a 14th century circular dovecote with 1m thick walls and inside hundreds of nesting holes. It also has the original rotating ladder.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Birmingham Oratory

A trip to Birmingham and Five Ways in particular on 24 October last year saw me take a few moments to walk down the Hagley Road in search of a Geograph photo. I'd seen a church marked on the map but had no idea what it was.

The Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri is a community of priests and brothers. Oratorians live together in community, but unlike religious they do not take vows. The priest members of an Oratory are secular priests. Each Oratory is autonomous and when somebody joins an Oratory  they join that particular community with the intention of remaining there for life.  Even though each Oratory is autonomous, since 1944 there has been a  worldwide Confederation of Oratories whose members meet together in Rome at least once every six years to elect from among their number an Apostolic Visitor who, with the authority of the Holy See, carries out canonical visitations of each Oratory as necessary. The first Oratory was founded in Rome in the sixteenth century by St Philip Neri (1515-1595) to serve the daily religious needs of the many lay people who came to him seeking spiritual direction. He gathered together around him many souls from all walks of life whom he helped as confessor and guide. As the numbers of his penitents increased, he and some of his collaborators were ordained as priests, and from this developed the Congregation of the Oratory. The Oratory was brought to England in the middle of the 19th Century when John Henry Newman, a convert to Catholicism from the Church of England, founded an Oratory in Birmingham in 1848.

The picture shows the south elevation of the Oratory with the garden

A quick shot taken inside the church. The church was constructed between 1907 and 1910 in the Baroque style as a memorial to Cardinal Newman.It was designed by the architect Edward Doran Webb.

It is known as Little Rome in Birmingham and although I was only theer a short time it was easy to see why it has been given that name..