It is one of the CCT churches that isn’t open all the time. This one is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons between Easter and the autumn. BUT the CCT is working on an Open Churches policy, which should hopefully mean that they all have their doors open all the time from 2014 – that will be cool.
But only being open a couple of hours at weekends did have some benefits, there were some really lovely volunteers manning the fort, which I’ve not come across before. It was nice to have someone to chat to (although I had dragged Gorgeous Daughter No 2 along with me) AND they even rang the church bell for me :) – that is only one step down from me ringing them myself. The bell chamber has three bells, dated 1612, 1642 and 1721. The nice volunteer only rang one and I’m not sure which one.
There were also lots of other people milling around. It was lovely.
The exterior is a real mish mash of architecture, and this is the oldest building in the village believed to date from around 1200 and built on the site of a previous church. But I’ve written about that before. So, the inside.
It’s much large than I expected and it has not one, not two but three balconies.
There is one above the door and another two either side of the nave. This is a picture from one, looking across to the other. I think the volunteers thought they’d lost us and came looking for us at this point. The balconies would have housed musicians at one point.
There is a legend that the large granite slab set into the floor of the nave is the upturned gravestone of a former abbess of a priory that once stood about 100m away from the church. I like that story.
There are some remnants of 13th and 15th century wall paintings. They were uncovered in the 1970s and one could be a picture of the four horses of the apocalypse. There are also some painted quotes on the wall in slightly better condition.
There is also a painted coat of arms for Queen Anne, dated 1705.
And a memorial to Henry ‘Hangman’ Hawley, soldier extraordinaire who saw service in the War of Spanish Succession and fought at the Battle of Culloden, where his soldiers had a reputation for brutality and where he picked up the nickname ‘Hangman’.
I’m glad we found it when it was open, but actually, it was a lovely spring day so I couldn’t resist taking a photo of it from the outside too.