Binsey, Oxfordshire – St Margaret of Antioch

After Deb and I had coffee in Oxford we drove to Binsey, a hamlet just outside the city. There are a few buildings beside the Thames, and the church is about 1/2 mile to the west (within sound of the A34 Oxford bypass) – grid reference SP 485 080. Apparently crop marks show that there were houses between the two. The benefice has a website at, but there is little about the church’s history on it. In the church there is a laminated A4 sheet, and that’s it. Surely there is someone in Oxford who could help them produce a booklet which would give us visitors the information we want, and earn the church some money.

St Margaret of Antioch is a C12 church, rebuilt a century later. The South Porch was also added in the C13. Before we enter the church, let’s have a look at St Margaret’s well, which is dedicated to St Frideswide. We have met Frideswide before, have a read about her life at

Tradition says she fled to Binsey to avoid a Mercian Prince who wanted her. He was struck blind at the gates of Oxford, but she healed him with water from this spring. The spring was made into a well, and became a centre of pilgrimage. Louis Carroll wrote about a Treacle Well – Wikipedia tells me that the medieval sense of the word ‘treacle’ is ‘healing ungent’. I can’t say I’m an expert on Louis Carroll, perhaps I’ll find time when this MA is over to sit in the sun and read Alice in Wonderland.

A nice carved door arch, and a simple church when you got inside. Worth looking up into the roof.

Some nice glass at both west and east ends, and an interesting altar.  Lovely Annunciation.

The Piscina has a drain down the front, which is a bit unusual, and Deb decided to have an investigate of the font. The Royal Arms is of the reign on Queen Anne, and there was one memorial on which they got their monies worth – plenty of names!

I liked the harmonium. When I was at Offord (back in the mid-1980s) Don used to play the harmonium at our little chapel. He would go into overdrive for “earthquake, wind and fire”, and then reign it in for “still small voice of calm”. That is a very long time ago! Nice that some friendships go back that far.

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Darjeeling via Oxford

On Wednesday 5 June I am giving a paper at our MA Conference in Derby. My title is ‘The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – Toy Train, Relic of the Raj, World Heritage Site’. I am excited, Laura is excited (she wants a trip to Darjeeling), everyone else manages to look interested!! It should be a fascinating day. Julie is speaking about Eva Peron. (One of our early dates was a trip to London in January 1981 to see Evita. It is a little depressing that most of our fellow students were not born in 1981). Details of the Conference are here – – all are welcome, and it’s free.

Adrian Shooter, the former Managing Director of Chiltern Railways, has a house called “The Beeches” in Steeple Aston. It has a circle of 2 foot gauge track and a Darjeeling Railway locomotive. He is about to move, so this was the last time his railway was open, and people were invited to visit. I am a member of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society so got a ticket – thank you!

I drove from Derby to Leamington, then caught the train to Oxford. I met Deb, who we first met when she came up to Newnham, Cambridge, in 1981. (She later defected to the dark (blue) side). We walked in to the centre and she showed me the pavement of flags outside New Road Baptist Church – a (very) inclusive church, here showing their support of Oxford Pride. I hope I lead an inclusive church, but I must admit that I did not know there were quite so many variations of how people identify their gender and sexuality.  After coffee we went and collected the car and drove to Binsey, a hamlet just outside the city (and I’ll blog that church next).

Deb dropped me off at Oxford station. They had a signal failure, so it was all rather chaotic. I had time to photo an Azuma – today is the last day of HST working on the GWR. I caught the local train north, and that was delayed as well.

When we arrived at Heywood one of the other chaps in the carriage had organised a lift to The Beeches, and I went too. It was a laid back welcome and it was great to be in the presence of a Darjeeling loco.

I had a ride, then enjoyed the BBQ. They tried to get the railcar to work.

Then there were opportunities to take some photos as the train ran round the loop.

I also had an explore of the sheds – including a set of Rail Mail trucks from the Post Office Railway.

My final photos were taken as the train ran round the garden. I was a good visit!

I walked back down to Heyford station, which is in rather a beautiful spot beside the canal. Quickest to go south to Oxford, then north again.

I was back in Derby in time to do an evening at St Matthew’s as part of our Bicentenary celebrations. 200 years of Railways – starting with the Mansfield and Pinxton in 1819, and ending with the demise of the HSTs. More details of Bicentenary celebrations at

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Langley Mill, Derbyshire – St Andrew

On Tuesday 7 May I went over to St Andrew’s Langley Mill where a new Pioneer Minister was being licensed. Langley Mill is a local ecumenical project, and I am the Diocesan Ecumenical Officer. Archdeacon Chris led it, and he was the only person properly addressed – shall we just say it’s not that sort of church! I mustn’t criticise too much – they are working in a church, in a community, where I could never cope. I’ve just read the noticesheet (on their website) and wonder what happens at the “Local preacher straining morning at Marehay”.

Chris preached a lovely sermon about Julian of Norwich, and linked it in with the gifts a pioneer minister needs (though I’m still not sure what a pioneer minister does). Then we had a dance meditation – “interpret the Archdeacon’s sermon through the medium of dance”.  I was asked to be one of those who welcomed – which was nice. I got some photos at the end.

The church is listed Grade II, and is at SK448469, not far from the station (which I should have visited) – it is on the Historic England site at That gives a date of 1911, but doesn’t tell me who the architect was. The church website contains the parish profile when they were looking for a new Vicar in 2015, and that tells me that the building was constructed in 1912, but that’s it.

Time to get Pevsner out – the architect was J.S. Brocklesby, and Pevsner describes it as “a powerful, primitive-looking design in free Romanesque style, with a crossing tower, and an exciting interior.” He also says that “rounded buttresses break through the eaves”, and I like the phrase “vaulted crossing with squinches”.

I must go back and work out what on earth that looks like! He doesn’t make any comment on the altar and reredos, nor on the font and its designs.

There are some interesting memorials – here are two from the First World War, and a lady who worked for the Bible Society (but her name is not an easy one to search for).

The glass is by the firm of Pope and Parr from the mid C20. Pevsner says “a bit weedy and not suited to the architecture.” The firm still exists in Nottingham – website. I quite like it, and my photos don’t do it justice. It was getting a bit dark (and I only had my mobile phone) – and should have photoed the mine from inside.

What I missed was the “good ironwork  including wavy strap hinges and memorable door-handles with horse-head thumb-pieces and plates treated as primitive faces.” Readers of my blog will share my annoyance – I will go back!

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Middleton, Leeds – Railway, Park and St Mary’s (outside)

Our daughter Hannah was doing a morning’s on-call at her surgery, which isn’t far from the Middleton Railway in Leeds. We drove up the M1 and met her there about 1 – then she and Julie went off shopping leaving me to have a train ride. It is several years since I last went – Theo (my son) and I had a day here, so that must be 15 years ago. They have an excellent museum, and it was a good train ride –

The line was built to transport coal into Leeds. William Grammary, Lord of Middleton, was described as a “coal owner” in 1202. In 1697 Ralph Brandling, a member of a coal-mining family in Newcastle, married Anne Legh, heiress to the Middleton Estate. By 1728 he had two coal-loading staithes on the River Aire, and in 1758 an Act of Parliament was passed to build a waggon way. The rails were originally of wood, but it was relayed with iron rails in the early 1800s.

By this stage the mine owner was Charles Brandling – a Newcastle based man, see His son, Charles John Brandling, expanded the coal mines in the area. In 1808 John Blenkinsopp arrived at Middleton. He was born in Felling, County Durham, and was apprenticed to the overseer of the colliery there before he was brought south. He surveyed the pits, and made plans for a new wagonway. He also designed a locomotive with a rack and pinion mechanism – this meant a lighter loco could pull the load required (a heavier loco would break the track). Matthew Murray, originally from Tyneside, had a workshop at Holbeck, and the loco Salamanca was completed in 1812. The world’s first commercially successful steam locomotive. This is an 1814 aquatint by Robert Havell, called The Collier.

The museum has a good collection of locos – I liked Harry and the NER tank, and the rather fun notices asking you not to climb on board.

The weather was on-and-off – sunshine and hail. I was having a soup in the café, and heard the radio say “Guard here, we’ve got 100 people on this train. It’s started to hail, so they’ll all be on their way for tea.” The volunteers handled it very well – let’s celebrate the volunteers!. Fascinating steam crane and I liked the bench too.

I had a ride up, under the motorway, to the terminus at the Park. I then watched the loco run round and the train depart.


I thought I would walk through the park and find St Mary’s church – first I found a stunning array of bluebells. How many bluebell photos do you want?

I walked passed the Visitors’ Centre and down to St Mary’s church – sadly it was locked. It has a website at and elsewhere I found out the church was built in 1845, on land given by R.H. Brandling. The Incorporated Society for promoting the Enlargement, Building and Repairing of Churches and Chapels made a grant of £350 towards the cost of building the church, on condition that all the seats were declared free, and public subscriptions raised more than £1,000. There is a tradition that Middleton
miners gave either a week’s wages or a week’s work towards the cost of the building. The church was built in the Early English style to designs by R. D. Chantrell, who also designed Leeds Parish Church, in 1846. The church was consecrated on 22 September 1846 by Bishop Longley of Ripon. Inside is some glass by William Wailes of Newcastle.

Leeds has been in the Diocese of Ripon for years. Then there was a reorganisation and Ripon, Wakefield and Bradford came together as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. Then it got renamed again – now it’s the Diocese of  Leeds. They have very palatial City centre offices in Leeds, and you can see where the money has been invested. Wouldn’t it have been lovely if a Diocesan re-branding had included noticeboards that make it look as if we still cared for our parish churches? One assumes the diocese has graveyard regulations too (but they obviously haven’t been enforced for decades, and I know how difficult it is to do that). I decided I was happier with the bluebells and steam trains.

I walked back to the Visitors’ Centre, had a tea, and picked up some leaflets. There are some interesting walks round the park, so I must come back and have a proper explore. I walked back to the station, photoed the train coming in, then rode back. I photoed the Balm Road branch, which is the rarely used link from the main line down to British Rail. Theo and I did that on our visit – my son may have died before his second birthday, but he had coloured some rare lines in on his Rail Atlas during his short life! Back to Roundhay – and I washed up for my favourite daughter (she had cooked for us).

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A day trip to Walsingham – from Derby to Norfolk by public transport

Julie and I have dissertations to write for our MA course at Derby University. Mine is on pilgrimage by rail to Lindisfarne and Walsingham, and I need a day in Walsingham to do some research for the dissertation. I could have driven to Norfolk and back in a day, but decided a day by public transport would be fun – Thursday 2 May. The first train across to East Anglia starts at Nottingham – and an advance single was a good price (£16.10). Unfortunately it doesn’t stop at East Midlands Parkway, and the first train from Derby is behind it – so I drove to Loughborough for 0511. They opened the shutters as I arrived!

We left on time, the trolley arrived, and I sat and worked on my diary as we trundled round the Syston Curve (which avoids Leicester), through Oakham and Stamford, then Peterborough and across the Fens. Not a lot has changed (except for the wind turbines). I waved at Manea station where I spent an hour sat in the sun in the summer of 1983 waiting for the mobile library to pick me up for a day’s work touring the villages and pumping stations of the Fens.

At Ely there is change – now the bypass is open the level crossing has been closed (though the lights are still in place). I remember the station signal box and the lad whose job it was to open and close the gates.

Up the line to King’s Lynn – Downham Market in its Network South East colours, and Watlington still up for sale (it was when we had the holiday here last summer). I arrived in Lynn at 0803, and walked from the railway station to the bus station – it is rather frustrating that the 0900 bus to Fakenham is missed by the next train which arrives at 0902.

It gave me time for a decent breakfast in a little café, and I then caught the bus – there were about 5 of us on board. There’s a £10 ticket valid on all the Coastline buses, so that was a bargain. At Fakenham I had time to photo the outside of the church and wander round the market, then the Fakenham-Wells-Hunstanton bus stopped behind the one I’d got off (a ten minute connection). A short journey to Walsingham, passed the Slipper Chapel (the one religious site I haven’t got to yet). This bus had rather more passengers. We arrived in Walsingham at 1015.

I walked up to the station (the Russian Orthodox Shrine) and had a lovely day going through all the files on Pilgrimage and railways, finding some lovely bits of text, copying photos, and getting some pilgrimage dates sorted so I can have a look at Working Timetables etc. Two fascinating posters – and I have never photoed a urinal before. We sat in the garden for lunch, and I finished working about 3.15.

I went up into the Village and had a quick look round the remains of the Abbey itself and the small museum. The rain just about held off. The bus came at 1614, about a minute early, and I continued north. Anyone else would have gone home the same way as they came, but I am different.

Up to Wells, and a connection to the Coastliner to Cromer – they arrived together, so all I had to do was cross the road. A great journey east on a bus I think was lost – through Blakeney, Cley and Sheringham. Lovely Norfolk churches I want to visit. Normally I would have changed to BR (that dates me) at Sheringham, but the branch from Cromer is closed for platform extensions. There was further to walk from bus to train in Cromer than I expected, but I had plenty of time before departure at 1800. My advance single home was £11.80.

It was a nice ride south, through all the stations I used to know so well (I can still recite you the list of stations from Cambridge to Sheringham in the right order), then into Norwich. As we passed Crown Point depot there are the new trains for the main line and the branches – it will be interesting to come back soon. The 1857 through to Nottingham is quite a fast journey – Thetford, Ely, Peterborough, Grantham – and there was plenty of space. No trolley though – seems a bit daft to have one at 0515 but not at 1915 on a busier train. Shame to see all the signalboxes lying derelict between Norwich and Ely. A coffee at Nottingham, then back on the same unit, and down to Loughborough. The car was there, so an easy drive home.

That was a fun day, and less tiring than driving. It is somewhat ironic that it cost me more to park the car (£12) than travel all round Norfolk on a bus. It was pointed out to me that I could have got public transport from Derby to Loughborough for 0511 – on the night bus via East Midlands Airport. That would have meant leaving home about 0230 …

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Mansfield, Nottinghamshire – St Peter and St Paul

Since I moved to Derby I have been going to Sheffield every month to give Platelets. On Friday 1 March I drove to Belper and trained north. A return from Belper to Sheffield is £22.70, so let’s spend less (£21.90) and travel further! An easy armful, and I was back at the station by 1010. I went across to Worksop and had a very nice poached egg on toast in the station café. Not the most beautiful line to Mansfield – a few nice signal boxes and some semaphore signals.

I walked down into Mansfield, under the railway viaduct and was very pleased to find St Peter & St Paul’s church open. It has a website at – although the word ‘Mansfield’ on the front page would save some confusion. There is also an excellent history page at

The original church was Norman, and you can find traces of this stonework in the tower, but there was a major rebuilding in the C12 – a new stone nave and chancel. Aisles were added in the C13, and in the 1291 taxation of Pope Nicholas IV the church is valued with an income of £26 13s 4d, and is noted as being annexed to the Deanship of Lincoln.

There was a major fire in 1304, and it took over a century to rebuild – by 1428 it had an income less than 10% than before. The clerestory and the spire are both probably late C15. The clock and the pews are early C19. “The 1851 religious census outlined the average attendance at the church within a 12 month period, with around 1,000 in the general congregation in the morning service, 800 in the afternoon and 1,500 in the evening and at the Sunday school there were 500 attending the morning service, 200 in the afternoon and 500 in the evening.”

By the late 1860s the church was described as “absolutely and irretrievably” ugly. A committee was form, and an architect appointed, William Smith of London. He transformed the building over the period 1870-71. The galleries were removed (thereby exposing the Norman tower arch), the roofs rebuilt, stained glass windows inserted and tracery renewed, an underfloor heating system installed in the tower, new porches built, the chancel floor tiled, “new chancel fittings in oak with stalls and parclose screens” provided and new oak doors to all the entrances into the church. In the decade before WW1 the population grew from 4,054 to 12,254, and there were several hundred children on the Sunday School list. It does make you wonder how we collapsed to the current levels of attendance – he says, trying hard not to get too depressed.

It is still quite a dark church – even with all the lights on – and I love the church guide by the door.

Lots of Victorian and early C20 glass. The dove of peace in the west tower is 1900 (just Victorian!).

In the South West is this one with Jesus blessing the children – installed in memory of Emma Pavey (1837-1889), wife of the Rev Canon Alfred Pavey, vicar of Mansfield.

This next one has no maker’s mark.

The Paul window is 1902.

One that depicts Saints Aidan, Gregory and Augustine of Canterbury was installed in 1912, commemorating James H. Blake, a mayor of Mansfield who died in 1909.

The East Window was made by Burlison & Grylls. It shows the crucifixion flanked by Our Lady and St John. It was the gift of the Duke of Portland and was installed in 1871. It has seen better days.

The Feed my Lambs window is in memory of Richard Greenhalgh, who died on 30 June 1860, and his wife Sarah who died on Christmas Day 1871. “Feed my lambs” was the text for this morning’s sermon – should have finished this blog before then!

The Transfiguration window is in memory of William and Hannah Dickons, who died in 1856 and 1871 respectively.

The Millennium Window depicts Christ above Mansfield – neither website says who designed it. Nor is there any mention of who made the statues that are dotted around.

There are lots of interesting memorials. This one says “Here lies Wendesley Blackwall, enclosed in marble; but marble incloses the body, not the soul. One part of him hath come to the earth, the other goes to heaven. He who in this life died daily, shall by death gain immortality. He whom death for these four years had assaulted, now in a moment by dying escapes from death. Blest with a beloved wife and a numerous family, with the inspiration of heaven and the dower of natural abilities – this second Job did the envious Devil tempt in divers ways, oppressing him mentally when he was weary, and sometimes torturing him in body. At length, after patiently passing through the wrath of disease, death, and the Devil, he returns victorious to the skies.”

In the south wall there is a segment-arched tomb recess with a male figure dating to c.1300. The effigy may commemorate a member of the Pierrepont family as there is a very similar effigy in the south aisle of Holme Pierrepont church. (Add it to the list of churches to visit).

The font and pulpit both date to the 1870s.

The organ is rather magnificent. The foundation of it was the organ of Clare College, Cambridge, with original pipework from the 1870s by Gray & Davison, revoiced by Harrison & Harrison in 1911. It was altered and enlarged by Noel Mander of London before installation in the south chapel in 1971. I hope they have a magnificent organist as well as a magnificent organ.

I wandered through the town and found the museum. It is small, but interesting. They had a tiny exhibition about the Mansfield to Pinxton Railway of 1819 – glad I hadn’t made a special trip to see it. Some lovely watercolours too, and post boxes were made here. I continued south on the train, changed at Nottingham, and went through Derby back to Belper. A good day out.

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Attenborough, Nottingham – St Mary’s

Jonathan is the Vicar of St Mary’s Attenborough, just this side of Nottingham. He is also an Ecumenical person for Southwell diocese – so I went to see him for lunch. Have a look at the church website –, and the link to . My camera died, my phone photos are not good, and it is so long since I visited (25 February 2019) I can’t remember a thing. Take these photos as a start – and I’ll go back.

The first church here was built in 964, and the oldest visible part of the church is a C12 doorway arch. The tower was begun in the C14, the spire was rebuilt in 1848 by Hall, a Nottingham stonemason. I failed to get a complete photo of the whole interior. They have the builders in and are making a new kitchen area.

Looking up there are some lovely carvings on top of the pillars. The north side is about a hundred years earlier than the south. Makes you wonder what held the roof up for that century!

The medieval door on display dates to about 1100 – I still bear the scars of a displayed medieval door in one of my first churches.

I think the other wood carvings are Jacobean – “let’s carve a mermaid” – and the lectern is a very severe angel.

On the wall of the north aisle are the Warren arms, a hatchment measuring about 5 foot square. Apparently it is associated with Admiral Sir John Borlace Warren, who was created a baronet in 1775. A lovely memorial to Miss Day. Her family had been parish clerks for 300 years – it’s a shame the plaque doesn’t recognise that.

There is an interesting mixture of glass. The first is St John, St James and the Blessed Virgin Mary. A window given by the Charlton family and installed by Alexander Gascoigne.

A window given by the Charlton family and installed by Alexander Gascoigne. He is also behind the War Memorial window portraying St Nicholas, and St George – I like the soldiers and the biblical family in clogs.

The East Window, the Resurrection, is in memory of John Royston Pearson 1819-1876 and his wife Elizabeth. It was installed by Pearson, Ward and Hughes of London in 1891.

There is a fragment of coloured glass from a bombed church in Sheffield.

The modern glass is The Ascension, designed by H.T. Hincks, installed by Pope and Parr of Nottingham in 1946, in memory of the Reverend J. Smaridge, curate 1894-1908 (a remarkably long time between his departure and the window being installed). Pope and Parr installed the Christopher and Cecilia window in 1960. The Children, Baptism and daily life window, in memory of Miss Day, is 1986.

In the church is a War Memorial to those who served and died, and there is another memorial in the churchyard to those who died in the explosion at the Chilwell Armaments Works in 1 July 1918. Have a look at this site for more information.

In an earlier conflict, the Civil War, it is believed that Cromwell’s troops stabled their horses in the church. Ireton House, which borders the church, was once home to Henry Ireton, a general in Cromwell’s army and a signatory to the execution warrant for Charles I – He later married Cromwell’s daughter. When he died he was buried in Westminster Abbey, but his body was exhumed at the restoration of the monarchy and hung at Tyburn. His parents and three of his siblings are buried in the churchyard. I am glad we live in more peaceful times.

Jonathan and I went for a walk through the nature reserve beside the Trent, and got some nice photos. 

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Blagreaves, Derby – St Andrew

Deanery Chapter is always a joy. This one was rather a waste of time and effort as most people were away for half term or General Synod. St Andrew Blagreaves DE23 1PX is a bit different from the churches I visited in York last Saturday. A 1950s Hall used for Playgroup and Zumba, and for a small congregation on a Sunday. It must be the only church in the Deanery with its own gnomes.

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York – All Saints, North Street

Our final church was All Saints, North Street – and I am sorry it has taken me so long to blog this final church. This church is on the other side of the River Ouse, and the first reference to it is in 1089 when the patronage of the rectory was granted by a layman, Ralph Paganell, to the Benedictine Priory of the Holy Trinity he had refounded nearby in Micklegate. It was probably a simple rectangular structure, and an aisle was added in the C12 as the population that side of the river expanded. The chancel was reconstructed in the early c13, and a second aisle added. The east end was rebuilt in the C14, the nave extended, and arcades reconstructed – indeed, it may be that almost the whole of the old church was demolished. The tower, octagon and spire were the first part to be completed – Richard Byrd gave money in his will in 1394. The work was completed in the 1470s when the lavish ceilings were installed.

At the end of the Middle Ages there were at least five other altars, so the chantries provided the church with a clerical staff as large as some of the great collegiate churches. The guide says they “ensured there was a constant supply of masses throughout the day”. I missed the squint which enabled an anchorite to view them.

The medieval stained glass is internationally famous. My pictures are not. The church website – still advertising 2018 organ recitals – is at  – it has a page about the glass – The point is made that the cost of the glazing fell upon the richer inhabitants of the parish, who often worked together as family groups or collaborated with friends and neighbours to buy a window. Many of the donors are immortalized in the glass. While I am not going to spend ages working out which window is which – perhaps I’ll come back one day and work it out properly – the first is the Corporal Acts of Mercy window, dating to 1410. You can also see a donor, and someone visiting those in prison (fastened in the stocks).

The St Thomas window (1410) has doubting Thomas on the left, the Risen Christ in the middle, and Thomas a Becket on the right (or the chap on the right could be St William of York, an archbishop murdered in York Minster in 1154).

The Pricke of Conscience window (1410) is based on anonymous poem written in the Northumbrian dialect of Middle English. It illustrates the fifteen days of the end of the world – and three more donors.

The Nine Orders of Angels window (1410) – top right. The Lady Chapel East Window (1330 – below. Just enjoy the others.

After the Reformation changes were made – you can imagine everything being swept away. From 1675 this pulpit was part of a two-decker pulpit, and that must have dominated the church. This is one of the oldest pillars, and one roof boss.

Some colourful roof bosses too.

From the 1860s the church started moving in an Anglo-Catholic direction – and the move continued into the C20. Chancel screens, and all that goes with it, were installed in the 1920s.

You can see that this is a church with plenty of candles, plenty of altars, and several Marys. I purchased a dvd of High Mass (must watch it sometime …) and a t towel of one of the windows. (I used it as a sermon illustration the following day – and received a large amount of grief when I suggested that I had purchased a t towel for my wife).

We had been to some fascinating churches today – and I was now tired. Nice photo of the spire as I walked back to meet the girls. Thank for an excellent day.

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York, Yorkshire – St Martin, Coney Street

Now for church 4, St Martin’s Coney Street was the next one we visited on our crawl of medieval churches in York – I have walked past this church lots of times, as the City Screen Picturehouse next to it does a very good fish finger sandwich (they show interesting films too). We also looked across the river to All Saints’ North Street – we’ll be there later. York was a port city, and this would have been a useful route to the quayside – logically it would also have led to a  bridge, but there are no remains of that. Apparently the newspaper was the last firm to receive its supplies by water.

On this occasion we went into the church rather than the cinema – and there is a wow as soon as you enter the door. The church was practically destroyed in the Blitz in 1942. The west window had been put into storage, and when the church was rebuilt in the 1950s (the south aisle becoming the Nave), it was installed in the north wall, opposite the door. George Pace was the architect for the rebuilding, and he cleverly rebuilt the C15 church, which was a rebuild of a church of about 1080.

The window was made around 1447 and shows the life of St Martin of Tours. He was born circa 316 in Pannonia (in modern-day Hungary), and was a soldier in the Roman army. He was also a Christian and found the two roles conflicted. The legend is that he chopped his army cloak in half, and gave half to a beggar. Under the influence of Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, he founded a monastery in 360, the first such foundation in Gaul. It was a centre for missionary work in the local countryside, setting a new example where, previously, all Christian activity had been centred in cities and undertaken from the cathedral there. In 372, Martin was elected Bishop of Tours by popular acclaim and he continued his monastic lifestyle as a bishop, remaining in that ministry until his death on 11 November 397. Always makes me ponder that his feast day is Armistice Day. The window was paid for by Robert Semer, the Vicar – the point was made that this is the window the priest sees. (I remember on one occasion I told the choristers to open their eyes and turn and look at the west window as the sun shone through). We also discussed the role of the bishop in medieval York, and how the story of Martin fitted in. The tower and west wall had been rebuilt in 1411, then the window was added. The church was one of those under the control of the Minster. York would have been a fascinating city in the middle ages – Robert Semer was Vicar 1425 to 1443, imagine being able to sit and talk to him!

Some other windows with old glass – I love this St George and the dragon.

There is also an amazing East Window – Harry Stammers again, 1965.

The Last Supper is by Frank Roper, and was installed in 1968. He was a Yorkshireman, taught sculpture at Cardiff College of Art for many years, and retired back to York before dying in 2000. There is a book review about him at and a Cardiff church, the Church of the Resurrection in Ely, looks worth a visit –

Let us enjoy three of the older monuments. Sir William Sheffield and his wife Elizabeth – he was knighted by James I in York in 1617, and died in 1633. Robert Horsfield was Sheriff 1672/3 and thrice Master of the Merchant Taylors. If I read the notice right, four of his five wives and eight of his children are buried here too. I love the script on the brass plaque.

The font is medieval, with a cover which dates to 1717. Margaret Clitherow was baptised here in 1553 – you can read about her here

Looking up is rather good too. Most of the bosses are medieval, and there are others in the Yorkshire Museum. All restored and painted in the reconstruction.

We went outside. This area was planned as a memorial garden, but is now locked and barred – makes you think how our town centres have changed since the 1960s. The clock is the part of this church most people know – and I failed to go any closer! 

And let us remember it was not just buildings that were destroyed in the Blitz – many men lost their lives too. Yves was one of the lucky ones – he lived on, dying in the year I was born.

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