Hanbury, Worcestershire – St Mary the Virgin

Friday 24 May and we are en route for a few days in Worcestershire. Hanbury Hall NT property is on our way – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hanbury-hall-and-gardens. The Vernon family moved to the estate in the 1570s, and Thomas Vernon started work on this house in about 1706. He had married Mary in 1680, became an MP, and wanted a Country Estate. The house was designed by provincial architects and craftsmen, but the interior decoration is by James Thornhill. He worked at Hampton Court, Greenwich Hospital, St Paul’s, and did this work in about 1710. The story is of Achilles, but there is a political theme – Achilles is Sarah Churchill, and Queen Anne could be the lady in green.

We could wander anywhere in the house, and they had a tablet for the things upstairs Julie couldn’t get to see. Lovely ceilings, furniture, and volunteers who would talk and explain. The family lived here until after the War, then the NT took it on (mainly because of the paintings).

I also had a wander round the garden – this is rather lovely.

We drove a mile or south to the village church of St Mary the Virgin, Hanbury. They have a good website – https://www.hanburychurch.org – although I can’t see a history page. The church stands on top of the hill, at grid ref SO 954644. There is a car park, steps up into the church, but once inside you find second hand books for sale, and a kettle to make yourself a drink. That’s known as the importance of welcome – and there’s a video on their website which says why welcome matters. Thank you.

The church tower was rebuilt in 1793, the nave is C13 and the north aisle C14. Both aisles were rebuilt in the C18. The box pews were installed in 1872.

The Chancel dates to 1860 and is by G.E. Street. Nice Victorian glass. The reredos is in alabaster – interesting portrayal of Judas.

There are various family memorials. This is to Richard Vernon, who died in 1627. Both he and his brother were curates in the area. I assume the second figure is his wife, but she doesn’t seem to be named anywhere.

There are lots of Thomas Vernons – you could work out which is which … There is a huge memorial on the south side which is the Thomas Vernon who commissioned Mr Thornhill to do the painting. His memorial is attributed to Edward Stanton and Christopher Horsemaile. The light was in the wrong place, and the camera had run out of battery power (why did I buy a camera that needs old-fashioned batteries?), so it was back to the mobile.

On the final memorial I photoed is a chap trying to read his book. I want one like this!

I liked the War Memorial window, with a nice image of St Martin. They have done some work on researching their war dead.

The font is C19.

In the north aisle is an exhibition which tells me this is the Archers’ Church. For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s a long-running Radio 4 serial. More information on the church website – https://www.hanburychurch.org/archers/. I used to be a regular listener. I started when it was on at 6.45 pm, and if I sat quietly I could stay up until it finished. I remember the Ambridge Mail Van Robbery of 1967 – so I was 5. I also remember (a few years later) when one of Shula’s boyfriends said he’d always wanted to make love in a cornfield. She said “there’s a blanket in the car”. Cue the music, Dum-de-dum-de-diddle-diddle-pom. (I was shocked!). There is a superb CD from Colin Walsh on the Lincoln Cathedral organ which includes Barwick Green, the Archers signature tune.

I went outside and enjoyed the view – it would have been a good day for a walk, but I’m still not feeling very fit and I am having to take life a bit more slowly. And we had a holiday cottage to get to!

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