art and design


This is me. Well actually it’s a painting by Amy Bessone called Faust that was part of the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery when I visited last Sunday. But by the time I came out of the gallery, this is what I felt I was like.

I started off looking at the exhibits (some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t) but then became more interested in the way other visitors were looking at the exhibits and interacting with them.

Before I knew it I was stalking people around the gallery taking pictures of them looking at the exhibit so I felt a bit devious and, if I’m being honest, a bit like a stalker. But it was still fun.

The Saatchi Gallery is one of those marvelous places that doesn’t care one iota if you take photographs inside. Unlike Westminster Abbey, which charges you £18 to get in and then won’t let you take pictures. I went in February and am still smarting from the injustice.

Anyway, I had a lovely afternoon mooching about the Saatchi Gallery stalking my prey and looking at the exhibits as well.

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So having got to West Sussex with a camera that didn’t work, I decided I might as well continue on my planned route and visit the other two Churches Conservation Trust churches that I had set out to see for the Fifty Before Fifty challenge: St Mary Magdalene at Tortington and the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Warminghurst.

Like the church with no name at North Stoke, a church at Warminghurst is in the Doomsday Book but the church of the Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt totally in about 1220.


Here it is, iPhone photos I’m afraid owing to broken camera.

Now this church featured one of my favourite churchy things …

IMG_8205… a three deck pulpit. I love these. You get a real feeling of the power of the clergy when you are standing in one of these looking down on where your congregation would be sitting (yes I did try it out for size). It also had box pews which, as I’ve said before, I just don’t get. But the pulpit was lovely.

IMG_8201Now in this church the box pews were rented out to the congregation according to their social status. The pews without the doors towards the back of the church were the free seats for the poor members of the community.

The Butler family owned the Warminghurst estate throughout the 1700s. In 1707 James Butler had the church remodeled. One of the additions was this painting on plaster..


It is the Royal Coat of Arms of Queen Anne and, repainted in 1845, it is still in remarkable condition.

There are other famous people connected with the church too. William Penn, Quaker after whom Pennsylvania takes its name, lived at Warminghurst and worshipped here and Henry Shelley, ancestor of Percy Bysshe Shelley, built the burial chapel now used as a vestry.


And there is a memorial to George Freeman, founder of the Times Educational Supplement.

IMG_8215You can also still see the base of a 13th century double piscina. There are memorials on the wall above it and the piscina was probably filled in when those were erected.

But the most interesting feature (at least as far as I was concerned) was the brass dedicated to Edward Shelley (another Percy relative?)

IMG_8212Here he is alongside his seven sons. On the other side of the brass is his wife with their three daughters. You can see that son number seven has lost his head. This is deliberate and it is because in reality son number seven really did lose his head. Edward Shelley junior brought disgrace on the family when in 1588 he was executed for harboring a Catholic priest and so his head was removed from the brass memorial as well. Now I think that’s a little harsh (but a nice quirky little story).

IMG_8198Now this pretty little place is the Church of St Mary Magdelene at Tortington. Not in the Doomsday Book, it is thought to have been built about 1140 and this is another church faced in the local flint.

But just look at that archway. It’s glorious.

IMG_8183It’s Norman, estimated at 11th or 12th century and, according to experts on this church, because of the changes over the years this archway must have been taken apart and rebuilt three times in its history. It’s in beautiful condition though, and I love the door.

IMG_8190Inside the church is another great archway carved in Caen stone. It’s got those funny beaked creatures on it like the church we found in Tutbury in Staffordshire. I love these things but now I really need to buy a book on church architecture so I can find out what they mean.


This church is also famous for its stained glass. This is a depiction of St Richard, Bishop of Chichester and it is late 19th century and created by Charles Kempe, famed in stained glass circles. The bottom left had corner of the window features his trademark wheatsheaf.

One of the other things I really liked about this church was this.

IMG_8187A list of the Vicars of Tortington. Now, quite apart from the names, which I love (Wylli, Ballinghall Beath, Duncomb et al)  dear old Robert Bartlett appears to have lived for a very long time :)

029bWhen I have been wandering around various places (usually the common)  with my camera I have been taking pictures of things that shouldn’t be there. It started with a Christmas bow on a gorse bush.

So I’ve been collecting a few pictures together, which I’ve currently got stuck in a folder I have called Out of Place … more on that some other time.

Anyway, at Clumber Park on Sunday we found this. The pamphlet says it is a sculpture and it’s meant to be a leopard. No. This is a chaise longue in a tree. I quite like it, but it isn’t a leopard, it is definitely a piece of furniture in a tree.

039bI also liked the tiles on the benches in the formal gardens near the lake.

025bAnd this little fat chaffinch in a bush behind the chapel. He was just angrily sitting there in the sunshine.

049bI love the fast shutter speed on my camera because I like the action shots of the birds. It’s just a bit of a shame I can’t get them in the frame lol … the little buggers move too quickly. This could have been a really good shot, sadly it isn’t but I still quite like it.

056bI got them when they landed though :).

There were seeds put out at various spots in the park, including on these stone gate posts at one entrance to the woods and in the bushes behind the chapel and  loads of different small birds were bouncing back and forth. They didn’t seem to mind grown ups, but they disappeared pretty quickly anytime a small child or a dog appeared (which was quite often). I could have sat there for ages and taken hundreds of pictures on the off chance of getting a couple of good ones … but that doesn’t tick the exercise box.

059bI stayed long enough to get this slightly out of focus photo of a willow tit though (the stone post is in focus though lol).

086bAnd later we found this guy, which I am going to say without any authority at all is a carrion crow. I like the texture of his feathers… and the ‘don’t mess with me’ look on his face.

Had a better second day at work yesterday. It went smoothly and we were out of there by 6.45pm :) That’s a good day.

Hopefully, today will go just as well.

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 …


Just look at those wall paintings.


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.


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″.


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.

Do you know what I did yesterday?

You’re never going to guess.

I sat down and wrote out a list of all the churches on the Churches Conservation Trust list with keyholder information and post codes and opening times where they were specified so I can print it out and keep it in my car.

Yes, I know, I’m getting a little obsessed.

I also found some pictures of the church that started it all.

Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. Years ago I was the editor of a local paper in a town called Esher and I was invited to an event at St George’s Church. That was looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust but I didn’t think much more about it.

Then Man and I were in York for a day or two and we were wandering through the shopping area of Goodramgate when we came across a little alley way. Now I like arches, alleyways, doors and I’m always curious to know what’s behind them.

There was a sign on this one saying Historic Church. So I walked down between Poundland and whatever was the other side and found this.

035bModern buildings either side, artisan workshops from the 14th century, an 18th century archway and then the medieval church of Holy Trinity tucked into this quiet little oasis of a churchyard that seems a million miles from the town centre.

I went inside for a closer look and discovered that this little gem of a building was also cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust and it sparked my interest.

This was also the first place I came across box pews and, although I have seen them many times now, I still think they are weird. I really think the congregation ought to have been looking towards the altar and the preacher and not facing the opposite direction. They could have been smirking when he was preaching hellfire and damnation for all he knew.

044bThe church is mainly 15th century but 12th century foundations remain. From the outside you can see the wear and tear on the architecture over the years.

Inside, the floors are all uneven and there are steps here and there.

040bI liked the iron work dotted about.

Now these photos were taking in July this year on Man and my last trip to York. This was before I had invented my Fifty before Fifty Challenge and therefore before I had made a decision to go and see all these churches.

I am finding already that my visits have a different intent now. When I visited Holy Trinity in July, I went because it’s a pretty church, tucked away from the crowds and I have always liked religious buildings.

Now, when I visit one of the Churches Conservation Trust Churches I want to know the history, I want to track down a quirky fact, I want to know why this building is different and what made it worth saving. I want to know who used it, who preached in it, and I want photographs that aren’t going to be the same as the photographs I took at the last 25 churches I visited. I want history, I want art and I want story-telling.

Holy Trinity has this to make it stand out.


The windows are beautiful. And the thing I like best about this church is that you sort of get the feeling that you have discovered a secret treasure that no one else knows about.

Anyway, despite the face that I went to visit it before I started my Fifty before Fifty Challenge, I intend to count it. Firstly because I have been there, and I have photographic evidence that I have been there, and secondly because in writing out my list of churches yesterday I discovered that there are now 343 on the list and not 342.

When did that happen?

I must pay close attention to this because if, during the next 2.8 years, there are more added I could think I have completed my task when actually I haven’t.

I didn’t even consider new ones may be added :). I am now racing against time and additions lol.

Holy Cross Church, Burley, Rutland.

As part of my self-drawn up Fifty before Fifty challenge, I have decided to visit every church on the Churches Conservation Trust list. There are 341 in total (and until yesterday I think I had passed one and visited two). This is because I like a challenge, religious buildings are nearly always great examples of architecture (cos that’s where the money was) and I like travelling around the country to see what I can discover.

I first came across the Churches Conservation Trust when I was working in Esher in Surrey where, tucked away behind the High Street is this tiny little gem called St George’s Church of Tudor origins and with a pulpit and pew designed by Vanbrugh.

Then, while in York, Man and I came across a little alleyway inauspiciously stuck between Poundland and another shop that led to the amazing Medieval church of Holy Trinity Goodramgate, which has box pews and a stained glass window from 1490.

So, however, dull, boring and nerdy you may think I am, I don’t care, these are my challenges and I’m having fun :).

Yesterday we selected a little cluster of churches around Melton Mowbray and headed off to see what we could find.

The first thing I discovered was England’s smallest county – Rutland. It’s longest length north to south is only 18 miles and it’s widest 17  miles and it only has two towns, the county town of Oakham, which I have to admit I had never heard of, and Uppingham (nope, no bells ringing there either).

So another box is ticked. I also want to visit every county in the country (no, please don’t ask why … it’s my nerdiness again, although this is not on the Fifty before Fifty list).

Anyway, here is our little journey from yesterday.

We started off in Burley, just outside Oakham, where we found High Cross Church next to the Baroque estate of Burley-on-the-Hill. The church is believed to date from the late 1200s.

Stained glass window of High Cross Church.

It had an amazing stained glass window and a memorial to Lady Charlotte Finch who was a governess to the children of George III but, more interestingly, invented the wooden jigsaw puzzle – how cool is that?

Next stop was St Michael and All Angels at Edmonthorpe, Leicestershire, which is described as a medieval church with a battlemented tower.

The monument to Sir Roger Smith.

Inside was an amazing alabaster monument to the Smith family, including this three-tiered one to Sir Roger Smith who died in 1655.

But I also found this memorial in the graveyard.

First World War memorial.

They might be brothers, or cousins, who knows? Whatever the relationship, this family lost Trooper WT Rawding of the 1st Lincolshire Yeomanry at just 20 years old, who was ‘accidentally drowned’ in 1915 and then three years later lost Private Bert Renshaw Rawding of the South Staffordshire Regiment at the same age. Killed in action and buried in France. So sad.

Just a mile up the road we found Wymondham WIndmill and stopped to climb to the top and take in the views (we also had coffee and a huge slice of coffee cake lol). Pretty place, but the windmill had no sails. Nice views though.

My sepia version of St Mary’s, Garthorpe.

Church number three was St Mary’s at Garthorpe. This one was closed. A note on the door said the key could be collected from the house next door but we didn’t want to bother them, so we had a quick scout round and found this lovely little sundial.

The sun dial at St Mary’s, Garthorpe.

The most modern of the churches we found yesterday was the 18th century Gothic revival church of St Mary Magdalene in the manicured grounds of Stapleford Park in Leicestershire.

Church of St Mary Magdelene, Stapleford.

This was bright and airy, the pews faced each other down either side of the aisle and it had the most magnificent monuments to the first Earl of Harborough and someone called Lord Sherrard.

Part of the memorial to the first Earl of Harborough.

Set into the floor in the middle of the aisle is a great brass, commemorating Geoffrey Sherrard, his wife Joan and their seven sons and seven daughters. I wanted to do a brass rubbing, but lacked the necessary equipment. It was a school trip when I was about nine or ten to do some brass rubbing that first got me interested in religious buildings and religion – although I do not consider myself to be religious, I am fascinated by religion.

But the marble reredos – an altarpiece or a screen or decoration behind the altar – was my favourite part of this church.

Blue John set into the marble reredos.

Designed by Richard Brown of Derby and installed in 1795, the arch and the decorative line at the top is set with Blue John. This rare, semi-precious stone has purple and brown streaks and is only found in one place in the world – a tor near Castleton in Derbyshire’s Peak District,

It is the stone in my engagement ring and various other pieces of jewellery Man has given me and I love it.

The reredos was created  to give the impression of opulence.

Our final destination was another St Mary’s – in Brentingby, Leicestershire.

St Mary’s Church, Brentingby, Leicestershire, has been converted to a family home.

The saddle-backed tower and spire is the only part of the church that remains in the hands of the Churches Conservation Trust, the rest of the church has been converted into a family home. I wonder who is buried beneath them.

So there you have it, a whirlwind tour of five of the churches on my list – you do realise that means there are still 336 to share with you don’t you? :)


“Skill without imagination is craftmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.” – Tom Stoppard.

Sometimes I struggle with art. I remember arguing with a tutor once who told me a painting of a vase of flowers represented women’s oppression over 400 years. I asked her why it wasn’t possible that the artist had seen a vase of flowers in the light on a windowsill and painted them because he/she liked them, and therefore it was just a vase of flowers.

She looked at me in a patronizing ‘oh poor dear you don’t understand’ way and said I was being too simplistic. But really, does everything have to have a hidden meaning? Why can’t something just be aesthetically pleasing?

And at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, gorgeous daughter number 1 and I spent a while looking for the exhibit near to the label we were reading, only to find we were standing on it.

So I came to this profound conclusion.

If I like it, then in my eyes it is art. If I don’t, then in my eyes it is just a big pile of crap. And I am perfectly prepared to agree it is art if someone else likes it and I don’t … but it is only art in their eyes, not mine.

This is an example of the second category as far as I am concerned.

It appears to me that someone has fly-tipped some old steel girders in the middle of a very beautiful park. I just don’t get it.

Yesterday Man and I ventured up the M1 again to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Now, just to warn you, although its website will shout to the world that it is free, the car park costs £5 for two hours or £7.50 for the day and there are no concessions for disabled people, so technically (if you travel there by car) it isn’t free at all, it is lying.

That said, it  is lovely and well worth the £7.50 price tag.

It was the  most beautiful autumn day and the colours were amazing. There are 500 acres of parkland to explore, dotted with sculptures, cattle, lovely scenery and random stuff.

There are also a few indoor galleries, which we bypassed this time because it was such a lovely day and we wanted to be outside.

There is lots of woodland and a lake and I really must buy myself a new pair of walking boots because I trundled along in most unsuitable red canvas shoes and got cold, wet, muddy feet.

Here are some examples of sculptures I enjoyed very much.

I’ve got loads more photos of other bits of the park (and some more fungi) but I think I’ll save them for later.

After we left the park we headed south to visit some old friends of mine in north Nottinghamshire and the recent additions to their clan. More on that later too, cos I haven’t finished playing with the photos yet :).