16 October 2008

Village Church

Though I was born in Dorset, formerly known originally as Wessex, it was by happenchance. This was because my Dad was in the Army and when they left Libya, where Zeltus was born two years previously, it was all a bit of a rush; something to do with the British being asked to leave - ergo we ended up in Blandford Forum.

Dad though, was born in Bunyan's county (Bedfordshire), and when he left the army in 1974 my parents decided to settle in his home village.

Home it was until Dad died in 2002 - while on holiday in Cornwall. So it is a co-incidence that Zeltus's wife hails from Falmouth in Cornwall, and SOH is a Redruth boy.

The village church is a pretty, as well as being a functional church, still has the old wooden pews inside and the christmas midnight service is well attended; though the idea of carols by candlelight had to be scrapped when one year someone managed to set light to their hymn sheet when trying to read the words.

According to the official documents :

The earliest mention of the village is found in 969, when among the boundaries of Aspley mention is made of the village. The Chartulary of Ramsey Abbey records that Alwyn the Black, who died in 998, gave the manor to the Abbot and convent of Ramsey.

This grant was confirmed by Edward the Confessor in 1060, by William I in 1078, and by Pope Alexander III in 1178. The latter grant speaks of the church, which is not mentioned in the two earlier. Abbot Alfwin, the last Saxon abbot, granted a life estate in Cranfield to Ralph Earl of Hereford. The Domesday Survey states that the Abbot of Ramsey held the manor; that it was assessed at 10 hides worth £9.

The church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL consists of a chancel 36ft. 4 in. by 20 ft. 8 in., with a north vestry, nave 57 ft. 6 in. by 16 ft. 6 in., north aisle 11 ft. wide, south aisle 12 ft. 9 in. wide, and west tower about 10 ft. square.

The chancel arch, nave arcades and lower part of the tower date from about the middle of the 13th century, and the chancel, though now entirely modernized, must have reached its present plan early in the 14th century at least. Part of the two-story northeast vestry is of that date. The aisle walls are perhaps also of late 13th-century date, though remodelled in the 15th.

The chancel is plastered and overgrown with ivy, and the windows, which have perpendicular tracery in four-centred heads, are modern; on each side of the east window is a modern canopied niche, and the piscina and sedilia, in 15th-century style, are also modern.

The vestry, which has modern doors and windows, is 14th-century work, and has a priest's chamber above it, approached by a staircase in the south-west angle; it has an embattled parapet, chamfered plinth and diagonal angle buttresses of little projection. The upper room is lighted by two narrow square-headed lights, but shows no traces of arrangements like those at Marston Moretaine.

The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders with a deeply undercut label; there are half-round shafts in the jambs, having well-moulded capitals, of which that on the south is ornamented with nail-head. The arcades of the nave, each in four bays, are of the same character as the chancel arch, with similar arches resting on shafts, a quatrefoil on plan, and with moulded capitals varying slightly in section; the chamfers of the arches in the south arcade are stopped over the capitals by a scroll. The clearstory windows, of which there are four on each side, are of three cinquefoiled lights under a four-centred head. The nave roof is good 15th-century work in four bays; the secondary rafters have angels supporting them, with wings outspread and holding shields bearing emblems of the Passion, the angels and carved bosses being disfigured by modern colouring. The tower arch is 13th-century work, and consists of chamfered orders springing from the jambs, and having a restored label and mask stops.

The north aisle has a late 13th-century piscina in the north wall with a trefoiled head, above it is an image corbel. The east window is also of the end of the 13th century, consisting of three uncusped pointed lights under a pointed head and a label with modern stops. In the north wall, which is plastered and has an embattled parapet, are three restored 15th-century windows, each of three cinquefoiled lights under a four-centred head; between these windows are 13th-century buttresses in two stages. The round-headed north doorway, now blocked, is re-used work of the latter part of the 12th century, but almost entirely made up in Roman cement; it is in two orders, the outer moulded with a pointed bowtel between two hollows, and the inner slightly chamfered; it rests on jambs in which are shafts having scallop and simple leaf capitals. The west end of the aisle is not plastered, and the walling is of roughly coursed rubble, the window being like those in the north wall. The roof is of the 15th century, with painted bosses and half-figures of angels carrying shields.

The south aisle has a squint in the north-east angle looking into the chancel; there is a 13th-century square piscina in the south wall, moulded like that of the north aisle, and adjoining it is an unmoulded aumbry. The windows are like those of the north aisle, but much more restored, and the doorway and the inclosing stonework are quite modern; The roof is 15th-century work and like that of the north aisle.

The tower is built of wide-jointed coursed rubble, with an embattled parapet and diagonal buttresses; about half-way up it widens on all sides, the projection being carried on three-centred arches.

Roman coins have been found in the churchyard.


Janet said...

What a lovely church. It's so humbling to think of something lasting over 1000 years, when here in this country we consider something too old if it was built in the 1950s and we tear it down and put up something ugly and not well built. I'm sure this attitude has contributed to the throw-away society and our current environmental problems.

The W.O.W. factor said...

A beautiful church for sure! And I agree with Janet wholeheartedly!