Capel, Kent – St Thomas a Becket

There was a notice in Tudeley church about the church of St Thomas a Becket in Capel, a Churches Conservation Trust church in the benefice – TQ637444. That was good, but with so many thousands of visitors to Tudeley, why is there no display or leaflet listing churches within 30 miles that are worth visiting? You can read about Capel at the benefice website, a Kent churches site, and the CCT’s website from which you can download a Kent leaflet.


It was getting quick dark when we got there, but there is a good car park on the north side. There was a Norman church, and there is a yew tree under which Thomas a Becket preached (were there too many people to get in church?).

dsc05582They have planted a fig tree, given to them by the Friends of Merton Priory. The Priory was an Augustinian foundation, an important centre of learning entered by Becket in 1130. The fig cuttings came from the village of Tarring, bear Worthing, which once also had an Archbishop’ Palace, and Becekt was said to have had a garden there in which fig trees grew. The Friends of the Priory have given cuttings to all the churches dedicated to Becket. They gave Capel three, one of which succumbed to frost, this one was planted in August 2016, “if it falls victim to the weather – or rabbits – we still have spare to take its place.” We had contact with the Friends of Merton Priory in Ponteland, which was a Merton living. I will have contact in Darley Abbey, which was an Augustinian Foundation. Allestree also has a large yew tree, and we – like Capel – are having a Crib Exhibition on Saturday as part of the German Christmas Market. Here are some more ideas for next year.


Entering the church there is a good welcome board and some good displays about the church and the Friends organisation.  There were plenty of books, so I could have had a good read.  The church was rebuilt in the C17 after a fire or a storm, depending which website you read – there wasn’t a CCT guidebook, which was a shame.

Just inside the door is a WW1 memorial. Three poppies from the Tower of London had been given to the Friends, and this case was made by Tony Yates, with oak from Hever. The background painting depicting “this corner of our beautiful land” was painted by Ann Smith. The cross is made from five .5 round cartridge cases, similar to the cartridge case found in a garden at Five Oaks green. The metal base is to be made from a Howitzer shall case.


The church has wall paintings which were rediscovered under layers of whitewash in 1927. These have been dated to the mid-thirteenth century and were painted in two tiers along the north nave wall. If the south wall had not been rebuilt in the later Middle Ages that too might have yielded further murals. You can see the Entry into Jerusalem, Cain and Abel and the Last Supper. There are also some later murals to either side of the chancel arch.


The East Window is lovely, as is the Communion Rail. You can imagine it being installed to stop the dogs getting to the altar.


This was a lovely little church, and I would like a better look round and a closer inspection of the paintings. Worth going back!



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Tudeley, Kent – All Saints

After lunch on Wednesday 9 November we went for a drive – to All Saints church, Tudeley, TQ622454, just outside Tonbridge.

dsc05541The church website is here. Tripadvisor has 36 photos here and the wonderful line that the church is one of four things to do in the village (the others are the pubs). I thought the 10% off voucher in the porch was a good idea. There is a decent car park, but no loo.



If you know what is coming, you are ready for the glories of this church – if not, you assume it is a normal parish church (though readers of this blog will know there is nothing “normal” about any parish church).


Tudeley is a place with a long history; it is suggested that iron was being worked in the area before the Romans came. There was a Saxon church here, it was mentioned in Doomsday, and the forge accounts show the effect of the Black Death on the price of iron, which doubled owing to the shortage of labour. During the C15 and C16 the Badsells, the Stydolfs and the Fanes were the great families who owned the manors.

In the chancel is this memorial brass to Thomas and Alice Stydolf which dates from 1547. In the guidebook, a very posh one produced by Shire publications, the photo shows a strip of lettering, which seems to have gone.


The tomb in the Chancel is of George Fane and Joan Waller is wife, who died February 1545.


The pulpit is early C17 – from it the Reverend Edward Wallis, Vicar from 1638, “doth raile against the Scots in his pulpit and out of his pulpit, calling them dogs and divells; and sais he knows now how to call them bade enough”. Some sensibly ramping in front – nice that Julie could get everywhere in her wheelchair.


During the C18 there was a restoration – it took 26 years. A record in the library at Rochester Cathedral reads “the parish was so neglected that no alms were given at all from 1756 to 1783: the Registers have been kept most carelessly and some are lost”. In the following century one of the incumbents was the Reverend Richard Boys (1785-1867) who had previously served on St Helena. In the early C20 the Reverend George Lachlan used the service register to regularly record the weather. He also records on 21 May 1916 “Daylight Saving Bill came into force” – I reminded my congregation that the other week we were celebrating the centenary of the clocks changing. His successor was the Reverend Thomas Mason, who was noted in the village for his pig keeping activities – local legend has it that he kept his pigs in the vicarage bedrooms.


In 1963 Sarah Venetia d’Avigdor-Goldsmid died in a sailing accident off the coast at Rye in Sussex. Her parents subscribed to the restoration of the interior of the church in her memory – although her father was a practising Jew, his wife and other children were Anglicans who worshipped here. In the summer of 1961 Sarah and her mother had visited the Chagall exhibition at The Louvre in Paris, and were enraptured by his work – this led her father to commission a new East Window for this church. It was installed as part of a 1966 restoration of the church. Marc Chagall came to the dedication service and is supposed to have exclaimed “C’est magnifique, ferai les tous” (It is magnificent, I shall do them all). Seven more windows were added by the end of the decade, and then the family commissioned glass for the last four. By his stage some had got tired of worshipping in an art gallery – the guidebook puts it more tactfully. Marc Chagall died in March 1985, and the last windows were installed in December 1985. There is a Chagall website here, and others here and here.

The church has a very well-stocked bookstall, with a stock ranging from a simple A4 sheet telling you what is in each window, through to deep books on Chagall’s theology. They also have a lovely range of postcards – I now have four in my study to inspire me. I hope that the lady who produced the sheet doesn’t mind that I have quoted her work – it was a God-send in putting this blog together.

We start with Creation on the north side of the church. Eve offers Adam the forbidden fruit. Is it the Angel of the Lord descending from top right? At the foot of the window an ass watches the scene – I love David Kossoff’s “Three donkeys”, perhaps this is a fourth.


A wonderful, intense, spiritual blue with a crescent moon, and some hopeful light appearing on the right.


The same blue, with more light. A green leaf and the shadow of an ass in the left, an angel in the middle, and a crescent moon at in the right.

dsc05509cA large white bird flies across, carrying a twig. Is this an olive branch, reminding us of the story of Noah. Apparently you can see a happy, one-eyed face at the lower left corner of the right lancet.


The deep blue has faded and gold, green, purple and pink predominate. The ass can be seen again, a fish and three birds. A water-bird (duck or moorhen) is paddling away. The blue fish in the quatrefoil is a symbol of Christ.


dsc05536edsc05535eWe’re now in the north wall of the Chancel. Is the angel playing a musical instrument? The bird is facing an ass.


Here a red tumbling angel takes centre stage, with another large bird behind? Sorry, one photo had to wobble.


The East Window is wonderful – just enjoy it. Commissioned in memory of Sarah it is full of images of death and resurrection. In the lower half she lies dead in the sea with grieving figures looking on. To the left of Sarah is her mother holding her two daughters; the surviving girl in bright colour and Sarah a pale shadow. The buildings of her home Somerhill appear to the right, and further to the right she is borne to the shore. The red horse (symbolic of joy for Chagall) carries her to the ladder that leads up to a benevolent and loving Christ on the cross, surrounded by angels. I can’t afford a stained glass window in memory of my boys, but the images in this one give me strength too. “Chagall’s picture is not that of a suffering Christ, but Christ, the young man, the one whose presence draws young people, the Christ who stands for the healing power of love; and it is to the outstretched and comforting arms of a radiant Christ that the girl is drawn.”


Another angelic figure in a lovely glowing window. It suggests a sea-scape with a crescent moon shining down. In the quatrefoil there is a smiling face. Note the artist’s signature.

dsc05502idsc05520idsc05521iA crowned angel. Under her left wing Chagall has written VAVA, his affectionate name for his wife and a tribute to her.


Moving into the nave, the two final windows are on the south side and radiate a glorious light – as the guide leaflet says “on sunny days they shine out, reminding us of the hope of resurrection.” The first has a “gentle angel apparently floating in a pool of golden light”. Butterflies and birds too.



dsc05525kdsc05526kdsc05523kThe second has the ass, a man’s head, birds, and (once again) four candles in the top lancets.


There was a sheet about the altar frontal and the pulpit fall – a good use of the Hebrew, and a lovely link to the faith of Marc Chagall and Sir Henry.


The Shire book (Mary Neervoort-Moore, The History of All Saints’ Tudeley, Shire Publications, 2014) says that “for each of the windows Chagall made a rough sketch to indicate the colours’ positions, strengths and variations of light and shade. The translation of these rough sketches, works of art in their own right, onto glass was executed by Charles and Brigitte Marq of the Atelier Jacques Simon in Reims. Chagall’s windows have been aptly described as ‘paintings in light’ for it is the light remaining in the stained glass which creates the impression of glowing vitality and movement. To achieve this Charles Marq used acid to bite into the coloured glass in order to exactly match the varying shades and tones of the colours of Chagall’s sketches. … In the final stages the two men would work together to determine the positioning of the leads before Chagall’s textured grisaille was added at the very last”, page 38.


Her book ends “The transcendent vision of light shining through the windows is a sign of the ever-present healing and hope promised to us through the resurrection of Jesus, and the anticipation of the glory which lies in store” (page 47).




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Danehill, East Sussex – All Saints

Having lunched north of Sheffield Park gardens I checked my “Betjeman Best Churches” app and found that All Saints’, Danehill, East Sussex is worth a visit – TQ402275.  They have a website, and you can download the guide to the Kempe windows (I haven’t photoed them all). There is also a guide to Sussex churches at this website.


The first church in this community only dates to 1835, and it was damaged by fire in 1887. Herbert Carey, a local, suggested they needed a new church, and his widow and family paid for it. The architect was G.F. Bodley. Born in Hull in 1827 he became pupil, then assistant, of George Gilbert Scott, then founded his own practice in Brighton. He worked in “Gothic revival”, with people like Burne-Jones and Morris and Company – though apparently that relationship was strained as he believe the glass designer should be subordinate to the architect. He died in 1907. This church was completed in 1892, at a cost of £12,000.

dsc05455dsc05456It was lovely to walk in to, and there is a very helpful notice about the lights – thank you on a dark afternoon. It certainly makes you look up and enjoy.


The reredos is by Comper – stunning!


The south window of the Quire depicts Michael and All Angels – I love the peacock feathers.


The East window of the Lady Chapel represents the Incarnation with hosts of rejoicing angels – note the amount of incense they are chucking (“chucking” is an ecclesiastical term meaning “enough incense to make the Canon Pastor cough”).


This Resurrection window in the North Aisle was added after WW1, by which time the Kempe company was directed by William Ernest Tower.


I liked this Madonna and child too.


I have to be honest with my readers and tell you there is far more to this church than the windows I have photographed. If you love stained glass, take yourself here. Immerse yourself in the colours, the peacock feathers, the pictures of the Gospel. Enjoy too the pictures of many of the great saints of the church, all of whom have wonderful stories to tell. This church also comes across as a place where the people of God are active and alive – you get the impression is not just a church with lovely glass, but a church where the vibrancy of the glass has an effect on those who worship here.

We continued to Waitrose (sublime to ridiculous?), then back to the house.  Today had been a very colourful day.


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Sheffield Park Gardens and the Bluebell Railway, East Sussex

On Tuesday 8 November we did not move early, then drove south through Ashdown Forest. It was lunchtime when we arrived at Sheffield Park. A lovely National Trust property, but the queue for the café was very long – they could have done with a separate burger van. We went into the gardens and had a walk – it was lovely. The colours were beautiful – enjoy. These are just a few of my 60 photos. The NT website says “John Baker Holroyd (later the First Earl of Sheffield) purchased the house and Park in 1769, and set about remodelling the house and garden in the latest fashionable style.  He brought in architect James Wyatt to design the house, and Capability Brown to work on the garden. Brown created walks through the woodlands, with clearings to give views down to the lakes and nearby Fletching village. Dotted around the garden and parkland you can still see oaks in groups of threes and fives, breaking up the landscape, but cleared around the base so as not to obscure views.  Of our five lakes, it’s Upper and Lower Woman’s Way Pond that were the ones originally created by Brown, a feat of 18th century engineering in itself.”


After our explore we drove north – rather wishing the teashops on the Bluebell Railway were still open. We had had a lovely afternoon on the Bluebell Railway on Sunday, riding from East Grinstead along the new line Kingscote, then to Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park. Their website is here. At East Grinsted there is a small station just south of the BR one. When the train came in we were invited in to the wheelchair accessible coach – and accessible it is too. They have a wonderful lift, so Julie was raised in style. The steam heating was on, and our carriage was a very nice environment – it reminded me of our courting days (that sounds so Middle Aged), on the last train back from Liverpool Street to Cambridge, in a Mark 1 compartment, with the steam heating on full.


Posted in National Trust, Railway interest, Sussex | 2 Comments

Hever, Kent – St Peter

We are in Kent, and had a cottage in Hever. St Peter’s church was open and worth exploring – they advertise the fact it is open very well indeed. The church website is here, and there are photos here.


The church stands opposite the wonderful Henry VIII pub – website. We had had a very good Sunday lunch here, though the pub was extremely busy. They could only fit us in at 12 or 4.30 for lunch, so if you’re going you need to book. Henry VIII visited Hever for the beautiful young ladies in the Castle, these days he should go to the pub!


The entrance to the Castle is next to the church. The castle has this website. We visited the castle in March 2014 – fascinating building and lovely gardens. Here are some photos from that visit.


The church guide is ideal – well illustrated, a decent plan (actually it is a superb plan), and not too long. I also like the first page, which I quote in full: “’England is a Christian land and only by contemplation of her long Christian history can one comprehend her. Her cathedrals and parish churches mark the milestones of her passage through time.’ Thus wrote Sir Arthur Bryant. How true this is of Hever Church with its splendid brass of Sir Thomas Bullen, its association with his daughter Anne, mother of Queen Elizabeth I, and the events which led up to the English Reformation. The purpose of a parish church, however, is not to teach history, it is to witness to the presence and glory of God, in whose honour it was built, by its very existence and by the lives of the people who worship there. So welcome to this place of prayer, where the gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached and the sacraments have been celebrated for more than 800 years.”

There is a document in the library of Rochester Cathedral which records the consecration of the Norman Church – indeed it records the fee of 9d paid for its consecration. You can imagine the churchwarden in the pub afterwards moaning about the cost! Parts of the current building date from 1292, most of it is mid C14, and the Bullen Chapel was added in about 1465. The timbers of the Nave roof are original – about 600 years old (they built to last). There was a restoration in 1894, and the wooden lid of the font went into the care of Mr W.  Bourne, the builder. “It was not seen for many years until his granddaughter found it, after his death, being used as a coffee table and returned it to the church.” The pulpit dates to 1621. I liked the plaques to two Vergers.


The picture you can see on the south wall of the Chancel is “Christ before Caiaphas”, by the Victorian artist Reuben Sayers. There is also an “Angel of the Resurrection” by the school of Tintoretto – see the websites I quoted earlier for better pictures.


I like this window on the south side of the Sanctuary. It shows St Dunstan, “a man skilful to work in gold and silver” and Tubal Cain, “an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron” to quote the King James Bible (Genesis 4.22). My kids are very proud that their granddad was a blacksmith – Julie’s dad left the family business in Llansantffraid near Oswestry to work in the car factories of Coventry – so Tubal Cain is their ancestor. The window commemorates Frederick Joseph Bramwell (1818-1903), an engineer – not one, I’m sorry to say, I have ever heard of, even though he apparently built a loco for the Stockton and Darlington in 1843.

dsc05340dsc05341dsc05343dsc05344These two brasses are in the Chancel, and a nice altar.

dsc05346dsc05347dsc05349The Bullen Chapel is on the north side, and I didn’t get a decent photo of the whole chapel or the Tudor fireplace. Sir Thomas Bullen died in 1538. He was the father of Anne Bullen (or Boleyn) and grandfather of Elizabeth I. He was also father of Mary, the other Boleyn. My beloved wife on her blog has reviewed several books with the search term “Boleyn”. A fascinating family – I love the way the Church of England was founded because of Henry’s desire for a beautiful woman (or two), and I should read more about Sir Thomas. His wife was Lady Elizabeth Howard. The brass on his tomb shows the full robs and insignia of a Knight of the Garter with the badge on his left breast and the Garter around his right knee. A falcon, the crest of the Bullen family, is above his right shoulder and at his feet is a griffin.


The altar is an Elizabethan manifold chest and under the offertory box is the old parish records’ chest.


There is a modern window in memory of Gavin, 2nd Baron Astor of Hever who died in 1984 (so, not that modern). My photo of the whole window wobbled – you can see a good photo here.  These figures are St Paulinus of York and St William of Perth – no, I hadn’t heard of him either. He was a pilgrim baker murdered en route to Canterbury.  St Peter is in the centre light, the patron saint of this church.


I liked this window, in memory of Peter Dinnis, a local farmer, who died in 1974.


By now the light was going, so I had a final wander round the churchyard, then we went back to the house and had an evening getting the blog up to date (this blog takes some time to write. I hope you think it’s worth it).


The following morning we went off to explore, and we stopped first of all at Hever station – London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, 1888. Not a lot of use for us to get to London as the Up platform is not Julie-friendly, but the building is well maintained.



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Lullingstone, Kent – St Botolph

I left Julie with a drink and walked about 10 minutes down to Lullingstone church, St Botolph – TQ529644. It is one of the Eynsford churches – website – and is in the grounds of Lullingstone Castle – website. You can find more pictures here, and there is a Victorian guide here. It is one of Betjeman’s best, and it was worth the walk. According to the castle website, the manor house and gatehouse both date to 1497 – I would have thought the house looked later – and the castle is open regularly. Today it was closed and there was a chain across the gate, but I worked on the theory I could have access to the church and walked through.



The church was unlocked and welcoming – lovely letters and welcoming notices in the porch. It is a BCP church, which probably suits the area. There is a very detailed guidebook which tells me that St Botolph is an East Anglian saint, who founded a Benedictine monastery at Iken in Suffolk in 654 AD. There was a Benedictine revival just after the Norman Conquest, and it is probable that the original church on this site dates to that period. The Saxon church of St John the Baptist, built on the remains of the Roman site, lasted until the fifteenth century.


The present building dates to about 1349 – the Lord of the manor then was John de Rokesley – his brass is under the rood screen, but I missed it. The beautiful moulded ceilings in the nave and chancel date to 1723, paid for by Percyvall Hart IV. We’ll try and sort out the family in a minute when we come to the tombs. The roof had to be raised to accommodate this ceiling – if you look at the outside you can see the different bricks. The ornate plaster work below the chancel arch has alternate mitres and royal crowns, bearing witness to Percyvall’s devotion to Church and Queen.


Percyvall also gave the marble floor, and the rare marble font which is enclosed with wooden shutters. It is said that the font is badly stained because of the baptism of the children of soldiers returning from WW1 bringing Jordan water home in rusty flasks – I have this vision of old soldiers reading my blog and denying it!


There are tombs in the Chancel and in the North Chapel. Here is a selection of photos, and I hope I have written them up correctly.  It is very difficult to get whole photos of the chapel, so I am sorry that the layout is not clear.

Let’s start with the tomb of Sir John Peché which lies on the north side of the altar, between the altar and the chapel (these photos were taken from the chapel), He lived c1473-1521, was a member of Henry VII’s court, and was appointed Sheriff of Kent in 1495 and Lord Deputy of Calais in 1509. He built the chapel, paid for a chantry priest, and paid for the rood screen (installed sometime between 1502 and 1520). I should have looked more closely at the screen – it contains the pomegranate badge of Queen Katherine of Aragon. It is possible that the designer was Pietro Torregiano, who was responsible for much of the work of Henry VII’s chapel at Westminster Abbey. Sir John lies in effigy in his tomb, wearing plate armour, over which he wears a surcoat embroidered with his arms. The canopy is carved with his arms, the arms of the Grocers’ Company of which he was a Freeman, and a whole mixture of other symbols, including Katherine’s pomegranates. There is even a branch laden with peaches, pecked by a bird, and the initials I and E interlaced, for John and Elizabeth. How romantic!


On the south side of the altar is the tomb of Sir Percyvall (1496-1580) and his wife Friedeswide. Both effigies hold their hands in prayer. He wears a ruff round his neck and his sword by his side.


On the east wall of the north chapel is the tomb of Sir George Hart (died 1587) and his wife Elizabeth Bowes. I love the way these two clasp hands. “Here lieth Sr. George Hart knight second sonne of Sr Percivall Hart Knight, who spent his youth in travel into forayne parts for his better enabling to do his Prince and countrey service which he accordingly performed in his elder years towards them both to his great reputation Queen Elizabeth II of famous memorie (that ever carried a sparing hand in bestowing of honor) gave him the order of Knigthoode. He married Elizabeth Bowes the daughter of John Bowes of Elford in Staffordshire Esquier (descended by that auncient family of Bowses of Yorkshire) by whom he had 5 children, namely Percivall, Robert, and George soones, and Francis and Elizabeth daughters. He lived virtuously the term of 55 years and died religiously the 16 day of July 1587.” Lovely figures too.

dsc05185dsc05196dsc05190dsc05191dsc05192dsc05193dsc05195dsc05186dsc05188dsc05189dsc05186 dsc05187

On the north wall of the north chapel is this memorial to Dame Anne Dyke and her two husbands – I love the way she records both of them. She certainly outlasted them both.


Then on the west wall of the north chapel we have Sir Percyvall Hart IV’s memorial – you may remember he is the chap who did the ceiling and floor. He and his wife have long epitaths, 46 armorial shields and various other crests. It is a heraldic study of its own – just enjoy it. Sir Percyvall was a Jacobite and might have failed to receive promotion because of that. The guidebook suggests that “One is tempted to assume that Percyvall’s heir, Sir Thomas Dyke, provided this flamboyant heraldic tribute to Percyvall because he felt that his father on law as a mere esquire, disappointed of high office in a Whig government because of his Jacobite orientation, deserved every possible heraldic honour.”


The church also has some lovely stained glass, but my photos are not up to much. I direct you to this photographer’s flickr page to see more of this amazing church – here – you will not be disappointed. This is part of one window.


I really enjoyed looking round this lovely church and was so glad I had made the effort to walk down the road from the Villa. I would suggest that a poster in the Villa might be a good idea – take the walk!


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Lullingstone Roman Villa, Kent

We are in Kent for a week. So northernvicar is almost as far south as he can go. I’ve blogged Roman sites before, though this isn’t Hadrian’s Wall. I usually blog churches, so Lullingstone will tick that box. Saturday 5 November was a bit of a grey morning as we negotiated ourselves up narrow roads, then the M25, and to Lullingstone Roman Villa – website. It has been many years since we’ve been here, and the English Heritage site has had a makeover (a very good one). There is disability access all through, so we started with a trip upstairs to watch a film show. “The nearest you can walk to Roman Britain” is a bit of an exaggeration, but otherwise. They show the film and use light to pinpoint what it is you’re actually supposed to be looking at.

dsc05164The mosaics are special, and it is a shame the paintings are in the British Museum. There is a good piece on Roman religion on the EH website, with a picture of the wall paintings.

I remember the pictures by Alan Sorrell from many of my archaeological visits as a teenager and student. This picture he did of Lullingstone is taken from this website – a project which last posted in 2011.


The current displays are attractive, and there are lots of things to look at. If we had grandchildren, there would be a lot for them to do!

The earliest house here was built about 100 AD. A bath suite and northern range was added about 200. There was a deep room which seems to have been the focus for worship of a water cult.


Later a house church was created in a room above – although it seems as if the cult continued for a while (one member of the family holding on to the old religion?). Fragments of painted wall plaster were found, and the chi rho painting, with alpha and omega (Revelation 22.13) is now in the British Museum. There are also six figures with their hands raised in prayer.


The EH guidebook says “The house-church is a unique discovery for Roman Britain and the wall paintings are of international importance. They not only provide some of the earliest evidence for Christianity in Britain, but are almost unique – the closest parallels come from a house-church in Dura Europos, Syria.” I have just done some research, and it seems as if this Syrian site has been destroyed by the so-called Islamic State.

The mosaics in the audience chamber date to about 360 AD. They provide a visible expression of the wealth and good taste of the owners. The main panel tells the story of Bellerophon, prince of Corinth, on the winged-horse Pegasus, killing the chimera, a fire-breathing she-monster (I’m glad it’s a she-monster). The story is a well-known myth, but here it could also be an allegory for the triumph of good over evil – a Christian-inspired message? I also know that Bellerophon is the name of one of the oldest steam locos still steaming, currently at the Foxfield Railway I think –  see this website.


The scene is surrounded by four roundels containing representations of the seasons.


The other panel tells the story of the Rape of Europa, who was abducted by Jupiter disguised as a bull. The guide has more fun trying to find a Christian meaning in the Latin.


There is a chi-rho symbol carved onto this piece of stone, probably C4.

dsc05142There are various other things on display – an axle cap, bone plaques, and a Medusa head from 300.


This villa would have been part of a farming complex in the Darent Valley – there may well have been a dozen villas along the river. There was probably enough produced here to be traded down the river, perhaps even as far as London. This continued until the C5, by which time there was no standing army to feed. At some point that century there was a fire, and the villa house was abandoned.

Just behind the villa was a mausoleum, and this site seems to have become the site of a church in the C11, just before the Norman Conquest. We’ll come on to that in a moment.

It is worth mentioning that the Villa is not too far to walk from Eynsford railway station, and that’s a simple train ride out of Blackfriars and other Thameslink stations. Just down the road is an impressive red-brick viaduct. It was built by the independent Sevenoaks Railway, incorporated in 1859 to link the Chatham main line with Sevenoaks (you probably guessed that). The viaduct was open in 1862. The viaduct has nine arches of 30-foot span, and rises to a height of 75-feet above the valley. I stopped and photoed it.




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Myddle, Shropshire – St Peter

dsc05018I had a day on the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway – my favourite. On my return I stopped at Myddle – St Peter’s church is at SJ 467236, in the middle of the village. The church website is here and there is a church history page here.


I remember this book, I’m sure I read it many years ago. “Written between the years 1700 and 1706, Richard Gough’s history of Myddle in Shropshire is a biographical profile of a complete village during the 17th century. Gough wrote brief biographies of many of the people living in the village, derived from his own personal experience and observation spanning the period from the civil war up to the beginning of the 18th century. The present edition is introduced by Dr Peter Razell, with a text which has been edited and modernized so as to eliminate material of purely antiquarian interest.”


There is a welcoming notice in the porch – but as the only access to the churchyard and church is by steps, if my wife and I lived in the village we would not be able join in, fully or otherwise.


The church, manor and village, are Saxon foundations, originally given to Shrewsbury Abbey by Warin the Bald – what a shame Ellis Peters never used Warin the Bald in one of her Cadfael novels. It is unlikely that any part of the building is earlier than the C17. Gough says it was very dilapidated during the incumbency of Rector Ralph Kinaston (1596-1929) and “Mr Kinaston offered to pay for the rebuilding of the Tower in stone, to the height of his stature, and to place a stone at that height to mark his gift, but the parishioners would not agree!” I love the way parishioners never agree.  Much of the tower was rebuilt about 1634, the lower part of the south wall is probably original.


The arches and columns are Norman, and the body of the church was rebuilt in 1744 – it cost £255.

dsc05057There was another restoration in 1857-8, when the roof was rebuilt and the pews added. The Chancel was restored in 1877. More work was done in 1995 and 2005. I know I moan about disabled access, but I am aware how hard parishes work to maintain their churches, and how difficult this can be. These buildings are not cheap. They have a current project for the lychgate and war memorial. More expense.


The deep pile carpet through the church is rather luxurious, but they have made it possible to lift it to see the brasses underneath.

dsc05043This one remembers Arthur Chambre of Petten, who died in 1564, his wife and two children. He wears ruff and fur lined gown, while she (her name is not given) wears the ’Mary Queen of Scots’ cup and ruff. There are small effigies of a son and daughter, and one shield of arms.


There are other fascinating memorials – imagine the stories behind all of these.


I like the Gabriel and Michael window.


There is a nice Millennium Tapestry too – faith and life continues.




Posted in Railway interest, Shropshire, World War 1 | 2 Comments

Allestree, Derby – St Nicholas

I am the Vicar of St Edmund’s church in Allestree. St Nicholas’ church Allestree is the other Anglican church in Allestree – SK336388 – website. William has just retired after being Vicar there for 23 years. I can safely say I will not do 23 years at St Edmund’s. I wish him a peaceful retirement.


St Edmund has 22 lines in Pevsner, St Nicholas has 7. I will quote him in full … “1957-8 by Peter Woore. Simplified Gothic with a small SW saddleback tower. Concrete frame clad in brick. The vaulted S porch and other detailing exhibit the interest in texture and detail seen in pre-war work of the parent Naylor & Sale partnership. Arcades and processional aisles, vaulted chancel lit by triangular windows, all exposed concrete.”


It felt a light church, a spacious church, a church readily adaptable to all sorts of worship. I like the way the liturgical colours are used.


Interesting to see how they have coped with the problem of steps, but it is sad that a church built so recently has such obstacles for the less-abled (both inside and out).


The font is interesting, and I would love to know more about it.


The church complex seemed very busy – Children’s Society Coffee Morning in one hall, loud toddler group in another, and even louder exercise group in a third. I said hello to the administrator and went into the church – I’m not sure I could have got in if I hadn’t known who to ask.


Is it somewhat ironic if St N has a busy building in the week but the church is not accessible, while St E has a (usually) accessible church but with far less going on? Can we find a middle way? How do we work better together in serving our estate?




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Mugginton, Derbyshire – All Saints

I went for a country drive, and I wondered what the church was that I could see on the hillside. I followed minor roads and found myself in the hamlet of Mugginton – SK283429. Pevsner says “The village is on a hill, the church on a knoll at one end with an ancient yew beside it.” The church is All Saints, Grade 1 – a history board, but no guidebook.


The Tower is Norman, though the later work is C13 and the battlements are later than that. The west end of the nave must be older than the tower. The porch is C15 or C16 and the inner doorway earlier than that.


The doorway further east is a reused C13 one.


They’ve done some modern woodwork inside, and a nice kitchen.


“The interior of the church is a delight” says Pevsner. There is lovely plasterwork, the Commandments date to the C17 and have been over-painted.




dsc04878The clock is a rare C18 cage frame clock. The churchwardens’ accounts record its presence as early as 1728. There is no sign of any outside dial, so it would have told the village the time by its bell. It has been suggested there was a dial inside where the priest could see how long the service was. When they built a new school hall at Barton CE School the ten year old me said it needed a clock so we could see how long Mr Law (the vicar’s) prayers were. I always was a tactful child!

dsc04843What is the pot in the corner?


There are some wonderful carvings, both in stone and in wood.


I wonder why there is a memorial to George Augustus Selwyn here – he is buried down the road in Lichfield. Then I have realised that this was probably in Lichfield Diocese before Derby was created. But even so, why is there a memorial here? I should mention that Julie and I went to Selwyn College Cambridge – I wonder if they know why.


There are some other interesting tomb and memorials. I wonder what the one on the right means.


The brass is to Nicholas Kniveton (died 1400) and his wife and children, it dates to 1475. Note the beast looking at its reflection in the mirror. The whole south aisle is called the Kniveton Chapel.



I am frustrated. I want a really good guidebook. I want to know about this glass in the Kniveton Chapel.



I want to know the stories of those who gave their lives in WW1. I want to know why it has such a short pulpit.



Pevsner also says “Bookcase for a missing collection given by Hugh Radcliffe. A case with angle balusters, early C18”. Who was Hugh Radcliffe? Where is the bookcase? More, more, tell me more.


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