Sunday, 29 May 2016

Thre Worcestershire Churches

I visited three churches on Saturday but was only able to go inside one of them.

First was in the village of Rock. The church of St Peter and St Paul at Rock  is the largest Norman Parish Church in Worcestershire and has some of the finest examples of Northern Architecture in the West Midlands. The main body of the Church, including the very fine Norman Chancel Arch, was built around 1160 with further addition in the 15th and 16th centuries.Unfortunately a wedding party had just arrived so I have had to make do with a photo from 2010 from Geograph
(Thank you Philip Halling)

Rock Church

I then moved on to Bayton  - I had read on the web that the view when you stand beside the tower is superb, 'a sweeping, unspoilt panorama streaching down to the Rhea Valley and then up to the Clee Hills and the Welsh Hills beyond. The slender spire of Cleobury Church rises from a fold in the hills'
This, for once was not an exaggeration :

The church itself was also a beautiful example of a Worcestershire village church  - St Bartholomew‘s dates from the mid 12th Century. This original church was much smaller than the one we see today, the tower at the West end and the Chancel at the East being added later.

 The fine drum­shaped font with  rope­moulding, scrolls and long­ribbed leaves dates from the Norman era.

A heavy "restoration" was carried out in 1818 and again in 1905 when the chancel was entirely rebuilt but three massive oak tie­beams in the roof pre-date this work.

One unusual feature is the East window depicting the Risen Christ in Glory from whom rays of light fall upon the church itself .

After Bayton I went to Cleobury Mortimer and the church of  St Mary the Virgin.
The present church dates from c1160 with rebuilding and extensions during 14th and 15th centuries.  It was restored in 1874-5 by Sir Gilbert Scott and its prominent features are the leaning walls and twisted spire which forms a distinctive local landmark.

I was looking forward to going inside but once again, as can be seen by the people gathering in front of the church, i could not - sadly this time it was a funeral that was being held.

Close by the churchyard is The Wells, fed from a local spring and for centuries serving as a public water supply.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Four Churches - Surrey/Kent Border

A trip out last Saturday morning saw me visit four churches on the Surrey/Kent Border

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Westerham

It is thought that there has been a church on this site since the 7th century however the earliest parts of the present building date from the 13th century (the tower and center east wall).

In the tower can be found a late 14th century wooden staircase, one of only two spiral staircases from this era in England that twist to the left.

In the 14th century two chapels were added - St Katherine's to the south and the Resurrection Chapel to the north.

The Church registers record the baptism of General James Wolfe (who was born in the Old Vicarage) and three of Sir Winston Churchill’s grandchildren in this same font which dates from the 14th Century.

The church contains a memorial window dedicated to major General James Wolfe who was born in Westerham and won won victory over the french at the battle of Quebec in 1759. The window dates from 1909  and was constructed in the William Morris workshop after a design by Edward Burne-Jones.

Holy Trinity Church, Crockham Hill

According to its website the church was built in 1842 at the sole expense of Mr Charles Warde, of Squerryes Court in Westerham. Construction of the church was entirely of local stone quarried from Limpsfield, Chiddingstone and Crockham Hill itself, and the work undertaken by a Mr Thomas Horseman and his son who lived at Masons’ Cottages – now 2, Church Gates (at the entrance to the lane leading to the church) where all the stone was cut.

Octavia Hill was a great Christian housing reformer and co-founder of the National Trust who, in 1884, came to live at Larksfield, a cottage she and Harriot Yorke built on the edge of Crockham Hill Common. With a passion for the countryside, she argued eloquently for the preservation of open spaces, fought to keep footpaths open, and personally saved many vantage points along the Greensand Ridge where others could experience what she called ‘the healing gift of space’. When she died in 1912 Octavia Hill was buried alongside her sister Miranda under a yew tree near the top of the steps to the south of this church.

She is also commemorated with a marble effigy in the chancel to the left of the altar. This was partly executed by an American sculptress named Miss Abbott, who lived at nearby Jacob’s Ladder, but was completed by Edmund Burton, and installed in December 1928.

The Octavia Hill memorial window (to the right of the main door) was a gift of the Orpington and Chislehurst National Trust Centre in 1995 to mark the Trust’s centenary. Designed by Alfred Fisher of the Chapel Studio in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, it represents the dark side of inner city life which Octavia worked to eradicate, and the brighter prospect of the countryside which she bequeathed to future generations via the National Trust. A portrait of Octavia Hill, and the oak leaf symbol of the Trust, are both evident in the window's design.

St Andrew's Church, Limpsfield Chart

The church dates from 1895 generally and was to the design of Reginald Blomfield; it was built by Messrs Durtnells of Brasted.  The whole building is of local warm buff-coloured Wealdstone Sandstone with white stone dressings. 

The tower was added in 1902 and the new vestries about 1960.The tower has diaper work of rubble and dressed stone above a stone string course.

A view inside the church towards the chancel

St Peter's,  Tandridge

The Church is sited on rising ground close to Tandridge Lane just north of the junction with Jackass Lane. It was originally built in the 12th century and  contains Norman and Medieval elements but the general outward appearance is Victorian. It was enlarged in 1844 by the addition of the south aisle, taking away the tower screening and moving and reincorporating the I4th Century doorway in the new position of the porch.

A much greater reconstruction was undertaken in 1874 by the famous Victorian architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott, then residing as a tenant of Rook's Nest, a major house in the parish, and the church was given its mainly Victorian Gothic appearance, together with the north aisle and the somewhat unusual dormer windows.

The most striking feature of the church is the timber tower which, with extra bracing added over the years consists of four massive oak pillars supporting the clock chamber, bell chamber and shingled spire. The nave roof built at the same time is of Early English coupled rafter construction, which dates them both around 1300 AD, but the trees that supplied the tower posts would already have been several centuries old.

Unfortunately it was the only one of the four churches I visited that was locked.
In the churchyard is a very old Yew tree -