Getting the key to the door

The key to the door :)

The key to the door :)

After a week at Man’s house, I returned home on Thursday to spend a festive day with Pud on Friday.

But I couldn’t resist the opportunity of stopping at a couple of Churches Conservation Trust churches on the way.

I selected two, one that had a keyholder nearby and one that was open daily.

Now, other than the other day when the key to St Werburgh’s was at the Derby Museum, I have never knocked on someone’s door and asked to borrow the key before, thinking it was a bit of an imposition. But I thought I’d give it a go.

St Lawrence's Church, Broughton, Buckinghamshire.

St Lawrence’s Church, Broughton, Buckinghamshire.

On the door of St Lawrence’s Church was a note giving the address of two keyholders, both not far from the church. The first wasn’t in, at the second someone answered the door.

I apologized for bothering them and asked if I could borrow the key to the church. They asked if there was still a big red sign on the door saying the church was closed and I said there wasn’t.

Apparently someone had nicked the lead from the church roof and the water had got in. It had been cleaned up by a couple of local builders and some community volunteers but the couple weren’t sure whether it had opened again.

Luckily, when they heard I had driven from Nottingham, they happily handed over the key to the door (which went in upside down and turned the opposite way to normal).

This rural church is less than half a mile from the M1. It is medieval in origin with changes and additions. It’s a nice looking church from the outside, but inside …

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Just look at those wall paintings.

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This one is a scene of St George and the Dragon.

010bThis one is of St Helena and St Eligius. She was the mother of the Emperor Constantine who is believed to have discovered the base of the cross Jesus died on. She died in 330. He was the patron saint of farriers and blacksmiths. Underneath him are pictures of keys, locks and horseshoes.

These amazing paintings originate from the 15th century when they were created to teach people who couldn’t read and write. They were plastered over in the 16th century and uncovered in a restoration in 1849. They were conserved in 1932 and again in 1990.

My pictures don’t do them justice, they are beautiful.

This church is also famous for two ancient books, one from 1632 and one from 1567. They are padlocked to wooden desks in the chancel arch. Sadly they were also wrapped in plastic to avoid rain damage after the lead theft and I didn’t want to unwrap them.

After returning the key to the nice couple down the road, I moved on to church number two, St Mary’s in Pottesgrove, Bedfordshire.

Now when I left Broughton my satnav told me I was going about 10 miles and it was going to take me 45 minutes. I couldn’t understand why.

With 4.5 miles to go, the journey was still going to take me more than half an hour. I was confused.

Then, 1.5 miles away, the satnav spoke. “You have reached the nearest navigable point to your destination, please park your car and walk.”

“No, there’s a single track road to my right that says Pottesgrove and I’m going to drive up it.”

Turns out my satnav lies. The road is gated and has a couple of cattle grids up it but it is perfectly easy to drive up to the gates of St Mary’s Church, Pottesgrove (niw commonly spelt Potsgrove) and park outside.

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Here it is. It’s got a funny little tower and around to the right, there is a row of gravestones, side by side leading all the way from the entrance porch to another gate.

048b 046bI loved the faces either side of the other door. There are ancient ones, quite eroded, on the other side of the church. These ones are Victorian.

Although it dates from the early 14th century, it was remodeled in the 19th century by the Arts & Craft architect John Dando Snedding (that’s a great name). He put that funny little spire on it (which the CCT website describes as a rocket-shaped spirelet), and the statue of the Virgin Mary on the front.

The altar has some lovely painted panels.

035bAnd I found another little quirky door, I really like these. Who fits through a door like this? I’m looking down on it and I don’t quite scrape 5ft2″.

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The tiles were pretty cool too.

So there’s another two churches, I can’t see me getting to any more before the new year… although I do still have more than 300 to go so maybe if I can persuade Man that a festive trip to an out-of-service church is in order, who knows?

Elsewhere in Dory’s World, this week is the busiest week of the year at work, double deadlines because of the days off next week. So the rest of the week’s post may be a little briefer.

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3 comments
  1. The murals are amazing! I always like to imagine how still and silent these places are, just waiting for appreciation. It is a spiritual quest that leads you ……an appreciation of art and history is spiritual in my opinion. I wonder what is behind the wee door….storage? ….vestments?…..leads to the tower?

  2. Nik said:

    My favorites (or favourites) were the “quirky door” and the “ancient faces”, though it was all beautiful to read about/look at.
    Thank you.

    • Thank you so much … I love visiting them :)

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