Friday, November 27, 2009

Reducing Chaos

Or trying to bring some of my blogs on churches into some order, and there is an order! in one instance it is following the Winterbourne river to Avebury, and the churches that cluster so near to each other. At Avebury, or at least not far from Silbury at Swallowhead Spring the Winterbourne becomes the Kennet river, and another set of churches to be found.

Several hours have been spent sorting photos into neat files, neatness is something I don't go in for, so much anguish has been spent over fonts that do not appear next to churches, and vague photos of porch doors and bits of Saxon work.

This blog is named after a church at Northstoke, situated in a small hamlet in Somerset, I found out that the church itself had been built on a roman villa site, the church foundations being roman, with a small stream tumbling down beside the church steps it set the imagination rolling, and to look over the valley and see the terracing on the other side for probable roman vineyards taught me that traces of past history are all around us in the landscape.

The next exercise was to record the churches that clustered around Avebury, and to hunt for a pagan beginning for the siting of the churches, this took me on a merry journey, I fell in love with Kilpeck Church in Gloucestershire for a start (though I have never been) and learned that it marvellous carvings probably belonged to a school of craftsmen called, if memory serves me right The Herefordshire Romanesque School, the famous carvings on the church, which includes a sheela-na-gig, probably the whim of some lord of the manor that had come back from the Crusades and incorporated exotic design from abroad.

Carvings tell stories, dragons, serpents and gargoyles indicate a mindset of fear that we know little of today, crude female (and there are a couple of males) carvings tell us that the 'sin of the flesh' was frowned upon by the church, though one wonders at some of the carving if the craftsmen were'nt having a bit of a laugh at those selfsame clergy.

Essex had a different tale to tell, corn wealth had built beautiful churches, the emphasis on elegant wooden doors with Elizabethan motifs, flint, brick and roman tiles were used, this is one of the abiding impressions that one gets with this part of the country the reuse of every available piece of material as churches got rebuilt or modified over time.

So to the list; Working backward from Avebury church with its figure of a bishop stamping down two dragons on the font, though strangely I have'nt written about this church situated in the stone circle of Avebury.......

Wiltshire - Winterbourne

Avebury Church (dragons and bishop on font)

Berwick Bassett (Redundant)

Winterbourne Bassett

Winterbourne Monkton (sheela-na-gig figure on font)

Clyffe Pypard

Broad Hinton

Wiltshire - Kennet

East Kennet

West Overton Church


Mildenhall (Cunetio)

Wiltshire - Pewsey Valley

Alton Barnes

Alton Priors (redundant)

Pewsey church

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