Monday, 31 January 2011

Ovington, Essex

St Mary the Virgin was unsurprisingly locked - I say unsurprisingly since it, and the adjacent Hall, are in the middle of nowhere. It would have been nice for a keyholder to have been listed since this looked to be fascinating church in a slightly shabby state. In this case it is the simplicity of the church lends it its charm and its truly stunning location (even in the rain).

ST MARY. Nave, chancel, and belfry, the latter resting on four rough posts inside the nave. Cross-beam on the two E posts. The windows indicate the C14 as the date for nave and chancel. - No furnishings of interest. 

St Mary the Virgin

Virgin and Child


Strangely this is another village which is not mentioned by Mee but Wikepedia says:

Ovington is a small village in Essex. The village is situated about three miles (5 km) from the village of Clare. It consists of Ovington hall, St. Mary's Church, and a few houses. Its a pretty place, with the air traffic of Ridgewell Airfield (usually gliders and sometimes military training exercises).

One of the earliest mentions of this place is in the Domesday book where it is mentioned together with Hedingham Castle and listed amongst the lands given to Roger Bigod by the King. The land given to Roger included 24 acres (97,000 m2) of meadow that was (in total) valued at four pounds.

Little Yeldham, Essex

I don't know why but St John the Baptist did not really float my boat perhaps the weather, it had started raining and there was a bitter north easterly wind, had an affect. The interior is simple, not to say plain, and, for me, has not retained many features of interest and the exterior is spoilt by a rather stumpy wood and shingle tower.

ST JOHN THE BAPTIST. Nave of unknown date, but probably earlier than the C15 chancel which is exceptionally out of line with the nave. Belfry of the C15 resting inside the nave on four posts with cross-beams on arched braces. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, with quatrefoils etc. and shields.

St John the Baptist

Thomas Cracherode 1701

Rather surprisingly Mee appears to have missed Little Yeldham or the fifth edition of Essex, printed in 1951, failed to include the village.

Flickr set.

Great Yeldham, Essex

This was a particularly fruitful trip with almost all the churches visited being open and almost all of them being of interest. St Andrew was no exception and is an architectural curio.

From the road it appears to be a fairly run of the mill flint and rubble building consisting the English style chancel, nave, a north aisle and an obviously later brick and flint tower - pleasant enough but run of the mill.

When viewed from the south east, however, you are confronted with a veritable melting pot of styles and materials, with a vestry, south chapel, a simply enormous brick built porch and added to this tower reveals itself to be rather interesting.

The porch started life as the first stage of an abandoned tower and gives the church a certain majesty which the, as expected, over-restored interior does not quite live up to however there's enough of interest to make the sum of its parts, whilst maybe not a knee trembler, certainly worth a visit.

ST ANDREW. Entirely Perp. Nave, N aisle and chancel mid C14, but the N arcade redone in 1884. For reasons not convincingly  explained a huge W tower was added to the nave on its S side, near the W end. It was begun later in the C14, with angle buttresses and a big S doorway enriched by an ogee canopy and two niches l. and r. This was not continued and later given a blank stepped brick gable as a piece of decoration. Instead, late in the C15, a more normal W tower was erected, also with angle buttresses. It has bell-openings of three lights with one transome, stepped battlements with pinnacles and, between them, in the middle of each side, a smallish figure of an angel. - PULPIT. Elizabethan, with two tiers of blank arches with plaited decoration on each panel. - SCREEN. One-light divisions with ogee tops and a little tracery above them. On the r. side of the screen the dado is painted with figures of saints, in the East Anglian manner. The quality of the paintings is low. - BRASS. Plate with arched top and kneeling figures, Symonds family, 1627. - (MONUMENT. Mr Gunnis mentions Gregory Way d. 1799, by John Bacon.)

St Andrew (4)

St Andrew (5)

Symonds brass4

GREAT YELDHAM. At its heart stands the huge Yeldham Oak, 30 feet round and perhaps 1000 years old; and in its beautiful churchyard is a hollow elm. They are the grand old men of this pleasant place, the oak probably twice as old as the oldest of Great Yeldham’s charming houses.

One of them is Spaynes Hall of the 17th and 18th centuries; another is an inn going back to 1500, with a Tudor chimney-stack, a fine door at the back, and woodwork 300 years old; and a third is beautiful Yeldham Hall, built of timber and plaster in the 16th and 17th centuries, and still keeping its old panelling and balusters.

Older than most of these houses is the church, which comes from the 14th and 15th centuries. Its tower has angels on the parapet. Its porch is the lowest storey of an earlier tower which was either never finished or partly pulled down. It has an outer doorway with much beauty from the 14th century, and a Tudor room above. The door itself is 600 years old, and has kept its ancient handle and a long iron strap. A little doorway in the nave wall was meant to lead to the turret of the unfinished tower. On the 15th century screen are remains of a painting showing a bishop and a lady with a crown. The pulpit is Jacobean, and there are two chests and a carved chair from the 17th century. Timbers 500 years old are over the north aisle. In the 15th century south chapel is a brass showing Richard Symonds of 1627, kneeling with his wife and looking up at a cloud with the word Jehovah. Their six children are at another desk below. In the vestry, we found a picture of old George Hardy, who knew every stone of this ancient place, for he was singing in the choir for three-quarters of a century.

An old timbered dovecot, seen from the road, has a pyramid roof.

Flickr set.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Gestingthorpe, Essex

St Mary the Virgin and more particularly Gestingthorpe in general have for a long time been on my must visit list - for teenage associations and memories - but it was only relatively recently that I learnt that it also housed a memorial to Captain Oates of "I may be some time" fame.

St Mary is rather spartan and over-restored for my taste and was the most disappointing visit on this trip - perhaps my expectations were too high!

ST MARY. The church is small in comparison with the tower. This was added about 1498 (when 40s. was bequeathed by William Carter to the building of the tower) to a church partly Norman, partly C14 and partly C15. The chancel has a blocked C13 N window; the other windows are early C14. The five-light E window is specially interesting. The tracery is of a rare (early) variety of reticulation, where the net pattern is arrived at by simply placing arches on top of the apexes of other arches. The Sedilia inside the chancel have simple ogee arches. The S arcade of the nave was rebuilt in the C19. The W tower is of brick with blue brick diapering. It has angle buttresses, stepped battlements and short pinnacles.The W doorway and the W window are also of brick. The bell-openings are of three lights with one transome and have depressed pointed heads with intersecting tracery. About the time when the tower was built, the nave received a roof uncommonly splendid for Essex. It is of the double-hammerbeam type of which there are only a few examples in the county. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, with traceried stem and a bowl decorated by shields and the symbols of the four Evangelists. - SCREEN. With one-light divisions. The heads are quite richly decorated; crocketed ogee arches and panel tracery above them. - STAINED GLASS. Seated Virgin in a N window, much restored. - MONUMENT. John Sparrow d. 1626, alabaster, with small kneeling figure. 

St Mary the Virgin

John Sparrow 1626

Lawrence Oates 1912

Arthur was more fulsome but mostly due to it being the home of Lawrence Oates.

GESTINGTHORPE. Here lived a very gallant gentleman, though who could have imagined, seeing him as a little delicate boy walking in this pleasant wooded country, that he would live for ever as the matchless hero of Antarctica?

Three English explorers have passed mysteriously from the sight of men in our time: Irvine and Mallory were seen mounting up Everest and were lost in the clouds, Captain Oates walked out into the blizzard to give a better chance of life to Scott and his comrades. He was born in London while his mother was on holiday there, but this was the home of his boyhood, and the little 14th century church of flint and red bricks, with a few Roman tiles in its walls, has a brass plate in the nave which says:

In memory of a very gallant gentleman. Died March 17, 1912, on the return journey from the South Pole of the Scott Antarctic Expedition.

When all were beset by hardship he, being gravely injured, went out into the blizzard to die in the hope that by so doing he might enable his comrades to reach safety.

Every week, we were told, an old lady, her years running close to the nineties, walked to the church to polish this brass in memory of her son. Well she remembered the time when he was so delicate that he was sent to South Africa for three winters. He knew this place well as a boy and his home is by the church, the 17th century house called Over Hall, which we see through the lime trees. It was faced with brick and partly made new in the 18th century, and has a dovecot 300 years old with a pyramid roof, four gables, and nesting holes for 500 birds. There is another dovecot at Moat Farm a mile away, a medieval house with its original doorway. The countryside of Captain Oates’s boyhood is dotted with timbered and plastered farm houses—Park Farm with two original doorways and a 16th century chimney stack; Parkgate Farm, with the original roof of the hall; Edye’s Farm, with its old doorway and the roof of the old hall still in its upper storey.

They are peeps of old England to stir the imagination of any boy, and we do not doubt that Captain Oates would often think of them in those last bitter days of his life. Like the farmhouses, the church has doors which have been swinging on their hinges for centuries, its west door and the door of the tower turret being both 400 years old. The magnificent hammerbeam roof of the nave has been as we see it for 500 years; so has the roof of the south aisle. The beams and wall-plates of the nave roof are carved with foliage and the names of Peter Barnard, Marget his wyf ; and Thomas Loveday and Alys his wyf. Their children may have been christened at the medieval font, carved with an eagle, a bull, and a lion, all with wings.

From these medieval days comes a little glass in a window in the nave, showing a small crowned Madonna with her little Son on her knee, and the two richly traceried old bays worked into the oak chancel screen. There is an extraordinarily long dug-out chest with five locks, old paintings of Moses and Aaron, and a 17th century tomb on which John Sparrow kneels at a table in the armour of Charles Stuart’s day. He wears a ruff and baggy breeches, and all about him are the weapons of war of his time, pikes and spears and muskets, helmets and a suit of armour, a red standard, and a drum.

Here Died a Very Gallant Gentleman

ALL the life of Lawrence Edward Oates would seem to have been a preparation for those hours in the Antarctic when he walked to his death in a blizzard to try to save his companions beset by hardship. Never was a greater example of the truth that no man can tell till the end of his life what has been the most important hour in it.

He was only 32 when he died, and up till the years of his Antarctic Expedition his chief expedition had been in the South African War, where he just missed the Victoria Cross. He was with the Inniskilling Dragoons in India when he wrote to Scott begging to be taken as one of his party on the Terra Nova. He was asked to come to London to talk it over, and, the two men recognising in one another a kindred spirit, the sailor took the soldier, who was to have charge of the ponies. Oates, rather shyly, asked Scott whether he would have a chance of going on the actual sledge party to the Pole. The Commander replied briefly that he intended to take the four fittest men, and if Oates proved to be one of these he would certainly go on with him. With this conditional promise Oates joyfully embarked. The record of the 900-mile sledge journey to the Pole is best told in the diaries of Captain Scott, found near the dead bodies of himself and his last companions. The most heartrending sentence in it is in the message Scott penned to England:

Had we lived I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman.

That hardihood and courage belonged to Lawrence Oates in full measure. He added to them an act of sacrifice which raised this simple soldier to a height at which he shines as an inspiration to the world.

Almost from the beginning the sledge journey to the Pole was dogged with mishap. The preparations were long and difficult after the party had reached their starting base. One of the questions hard to decide was whether to take ponies or dogs or both, and the decision to take ponies involved a delay of some weeks, because they could not stand the winter climate. The delay also caused another entirely unexpected misfortune, the character of which was only learned when it was too late. All unknown to Scott, while he delayed, Amundsen with his Antarctic party was starting on the same journey by a shorter route, and with more fitting equipment. Fortune favoured the Norwegian, and seemed to set its face against the English party from the first. They were behind their scheduled time and dared not pause for rest lest their food rations should not last. There was nothing but to go trudging on, hauling their sledges with agonising effort.

In spite of the heavy going over soft snow or crumbling ice they contrived to keep to nearly ten miles a day, but it was at terrible cost to themselves, and each began to ask himself how long he could keep the pace, and each to fear that his weakness might betray the others. What their nights were when they shivered, half-frozen and half-thawed, through brief hours of exhaustion, and when they seemed neither asleep nor awake, we hardly find it possible to think.

At last, when the lessening stock of food had lightened the sledges, they had only 27 miles to go; another two good marches would l take them to their goal. On January 16 they had been marching about two hours when the seaman’s eyes of Lieutenant Bowers saw something like a cairn of stones. But how could it be a cairn? Were they not the first to cross this untracked solitude? They marched on. Another half hour and there was a black speck far ahead. The bitter truth burst on them. With sinking hearts they came to a black flag tied to part of a sledge, and, drawing nearer, saw sledge tracks, marks of skis, and the footprints of many dogs pointing to and from the Pole. Amundsen had beaten them; the intrepid Norwegian had come and gone.

0ur own hearts sink as we try to realise the bitter shock of disappointment to these worn and bewildered men. Had they indeed been the first to set their feet at the South Pole the exultation might have so raised their spirits that they would have set out on the return journey with bounding pulses and renewed vigour. It was not to be. They must face the miles back with the bitter consciousness that, though they had done their duty, it was not enough.

It was on the merciless journey back that Captain Oates broke down in body though his spirit triumphed to the end. His feet had been frost-bitten; he could scarcely stumble along; his iron will could not keep him in the traces of the sledge. He was left to sit on it while the others searched for tracks, and then to plod behind alone with his thoughts. He asked his nearest friend among them what he should do, and all the friend could say was "Slog on—just slog on," though both knew death was certain.

So Oates tried to battle to the end, though doubts came with every dawn and lasted through every agonising day. His hands were useless; his feet would barely support him. Try as he would he kept the party waiting. He came to the end of his endurance. He could not go on. He asked them to leave him behind in his sleeping-bag. But they would not leave him, though they knew his hours were numbered, and he struggled on a few miles more, when they camped. He awoke in the morning after a little sleep, and as he woke he knew what he must do. He struggled to his feet and limped out into the blizzard. He bade no goodbye; he said only: I am just going outside; I may be some time.

He was going out so that his companions should not be burdened with his company. The chance was faint, but his going might give them some hope of life denied to him.

Long afterwards, when the bodies of the others were found, a service was read over them beginning with the words: "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Over the body of Oates no service could be read, for the snow of the blizzard had enfolded it forever; but near the camp where he went forth into the swirling snowstorm a rude cross has been set up, and on it are the words: Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman.


Belchamp Walter, Essex

St Mary the Virgin is another fine example of Essex church architecture, beautifully situated and has some very fine medieval wall paintings.

The oldest work is thought to be from the 10th or 11th century and has survived in the narrow semi circular window in the north wall of the chancel. The current building dates from the 13th Century, although the eastern end, including the Altar and Altar steps were extended and raised a few feet dining the restoration by the Patron the Reverend J .M. St Clere Raymond - about the year 1859.

The east window is Gothic, but all the glass is Victorian except the tiny topmost light which depicts the Virgin Mary, the window was restored in 1996.

The Raymond family monument, designed and built by Robert Taylor for John Raymond in 1720 is on the north wall of the chancel. Beneath the floor is the later of the two family vaults.

The Chancel Arch is fine and beautifully proportioned.

The nave is is of unusual width for a single span and very lofty. It is of early 14th Century origin.

At the north - east end are the remains of what must have been a very beautiful canopied Chantry Chapel, which evidently extended outside the North wall, and would have incorporated the tomb of the Botetourt family - Sir John de Botetourt having been buried in 1324. Prior to that date he occupied the Manor as underlord of the de Veres — Earls of Oxford, at Hedingham Castle, and Priory of Earls Colne, to whom the church at that time belonged. This memorial was apparently defaced during the Civil War, at which time memorial brasses were also removed from tombs under the Centre Aisle.

Also on the north Wall can be seen Mural Paintings of unusual interest, particularly that of the Madonna to whom the Church is dedicated. Prior to 1962 this painting had been partially visible and in 1962, along with other paintings was restored by an expert who was a Mrs Baker; she was engaged through the auspices of The Pilgrim Trust. Her initial comments regarding the Madonna are as follows “ I discovered a text partially obscuring the painting, which is of 14th Century date. And I cleaned off the text to reveal an extremely lovely painting finely drawn and over life size in scale. It is probably an altar painting, bearing in mind the dedication of the church. I know of no better painting of this subject- it is the most entirely satisfactory treatment I have ever seen".

The Virgin is crowned with her long hair flowing over her shoulders, and she is suckling her Child who is supported on her left knee, with tracings of censing angels on either side and a bird can just be made out on top of the canopy - possible a falcon.

The boldness of the drawing and the treatment of the eyes are typical of the period (14th Century). The long hair is said to have been a sign of virginity but the crown is unusual, although it has been known as far back as the 12th Century when a sceptre was sometimes seen - as Queen of Heaven. The figure at the bottom right of the painting is thought to be the Patron worshipping the Virgin with his beads. The painting is reminiscent of that at Great Canfield in Essex, which is attributed to Matthew Paris, and could well be by the same hand.

The restoration then moved onto the remainder of the North wall where she uncovered two tiers of paintings. These are not by the same painter but nevertheless are interesting, in the top tier there are six subjects, and in the lower tier four subjects, but one of these is very hard to make out. The paintings are mostly in red ochre but also some are in yellow. They can be identified as follows:

Upper Tier - looking from left to right:

1. Christ entering the Gate of Jerusalem on a donkey which is in yellow ochre.
2 The Gate of Jerusalem. A small head is looking down from the battlements. Slight traces of a figure can be seen in the archway.
3 Christ kneeling and washing the feet of Peter.
4 The Last Supper. Judas is seen stealing the bag of money and a fish from the table.
5 The Betrayal, Judas, Christ and two Soldiers.
6 Christ before Pontius Pilate. Christ’s hands are bound and He is blindfolded.

Lower Tier:

l The martyrdom of Saint Edmund. He is bound to a tree and being shot by the
Danes with bows and arrows.
2 This is indecipherable.
3 A large "Pelican in Piety" painted in red, pecking at her breasts and so drawing
blood to feed her five chicks.
4 This subject is in some doubt, but appears to be a King, Queen and a Courtier bearing a Hawk. Perhaps the first part of "The Three Living and the Three Dead”.

In 1964 Mrs Baker came back to look at the South Wall but the results were disappointing. The plaster on this wall being in poor condition, details had become obliterated, but portions of a roundel are seen depicting a figure with arrows and a woman. This is possibly Saint Sebastian, who was wounded with arrows shot at him, the archers leaving him for dead. His wounds were healed by Irene, widow of the martyr Saint Castulus.

Above the South door there appears to be three women with Christ - the Resurrection Scene? Especially as there seems to be a sleeping figure near His right foot.

To the right of the door is an inscription in Old English, this is of a much later date and quotes from the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 20, verse 9): "And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen asleep; and as Paul was long preaching, he sank down with sleep and, fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead", however the narrative goes on to say he recovered.

In 1996 the whole of the walls containing the paintings was stabilised and cleaned.

The upper part of the Font is Norman.

ST MARY. Chancel, nave, and W tower. The chancel is much lower than the nave and is, by its (renewed) lancer window, E. E. The nave dates from c. 1320 as indicated by the windows with intersected tracery with cusps. C15 timber S porch with pretty barge-boarding. C15 W tower with diagonal buttresses and battlements, a high stair turret and a very tall transomed W window of three lights. The interior of the church rather wildly painted in High Victorian days (restoration 1860) probably by the same craftsman (or firm) who worked at Foxearth. In the nave MONUMENT to Sir John Boutetort d. 1324 or 1325, extremely ornate. Tomb-chest and effigy missing. A big cusped and sub cusped arch flanked by thin buttresses. Fleurons, leaf-branches, bossy leaves, shields serve to enrich the surfaces. Ogee details in the main arch and the cusping, but rather subdued. Also of the C14 the large WALL PAINTING of the Virgin suckling the Child which was discovered in 1926. - FONT. Circular, C12, the bowl damaged along the top. Decoration with beaded scrolls, leaves etc. - MONUMENT. Sir John Raymond d. 1720. With Roman pilasters, two seated cherubs and more cherubs’ heads. Good quality; signed by Robert Taylor Snr.

St Mary the Virgin (2)

 Wall painting (4)

Wall painting (6)

Wall painting (7) 

Mee is succinct -

BELCHAMP WALTER. Among its old houses are St Mary Hall, which was here in the 16th century and has something left of a house 100 years older; the 15th century Hopkins Farm; and Clark’s Farm with a Tudor fireplace, carved bargeboards, and a gabled dormer window. Above the Belchamp Brook stands the church, its 15th century tower with a chequered parapet, the lofty nave 14th century, the chancel 13th. The roofs are 500 years old, and so is the south porch of timber and brick. The font has a round bowl with bands of ornament, the work of a Norman craftsman; and there is an arched recess beautifully carved with flowers and shields, probably the canopy of a tomb of 600 years ago and the entrance to a vanished chantry chapel.

Belchamp St Paul, Essex

St Andrew is stunning, as is Belchamp St Paul and its environs, and contains something for everyone but the real pleasure of the day was that out of eight churches visited all but two were open and that, given their location, the two that were locked were totally understandable (but keyholders would have been nice because both looked to have points of interest).

It would seem that after the visitation of Dean William Say in 1458 a major rebuilding of the church took place which was completed in the year 1490. The building which we now see consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, tower and south porch.

The chancel was rebuilt in 1490 when it was widened and the east window, of five cinque-foiled lights, restored. The western most window is continued down below a transom (beam of timber), the lower lights being fitted with modern shutters. The sill of the south-east window of the chancel is carried down low to form a sedilla; the west splay of this window is cut back and cinque-foiled (dates from 1440). Between the windows in the south wall is a doorway with a two-centred arch dating back to 1490. The roof dates from 1490 and is of the trussed rafter, beam type, often found in Essex churches.

In the centre of the floor, just in front of the altar rail is a floor brass. This consists of two brasses, the first being to Elizabeth West second wife of William Golding, 1591, and depicting two groups of children and three shields and an inscription. The second brass is to William Golding, 1587, consisting of a gentleman in plate armour, two groups of children, two shields and a figure of a woman. The foot inscription to this brass has been lost. Both of these brasses have been re-set in the same slab and disarranged.

On the Chancel floor is a black marble slab with two shields inlaid in white marble being the tomb of Freere, son of Christopher Layer. While in front of the sedilla is a black slab of marble to Christopher Layer. The tomb of his wife Susanna is on the north side of the sanctuary.

The chancel has two choir stalls 15th or early 16th century, five on either side with grotesque and foliated misericords, the fronts are elaborately decorated with poppy heads and foliated scroll mouldings and two standards with elaborately carved figures of a seated king and a monk both holding a book. There is a story that the choir stalls came from Clare Priory, after the dissolution in 1538, but the Rev Robert Flynn was of the opinion that the carving of an ecclesiastic in doctor's robes was perhaps the effigy of Parson Loker, who was also rector of Upper Yeldham, Rector of Fairstead and Great Henny. This suggests the seats to be original to the church. The only certainty about them is they are the only misericords in Essex apart from Castle Hedingham.

The chancel was restored by the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's in 1870/1. The nave has a north arcade of three bays. The easternmost arch dates from C1450 and is two-centred. The shafts supporting the arch are semi-octagonal with moulded and embattled caps on moulded bases. The arch opens into the north transept. The two westem arches date from C1490.

The window in the north chapel bears the arms of Arthur Golding who died in 1606 and lived at Paul's Hall. He was a renaissance scholar, a translator into English of Ovid, the institutes of John Calvin and the Theological Treaties of Beza, the Swiss theologian. Arthur Golding was also known as being a friend of Shakespeare, who it is thought was a visitor to the area.

ST ANDREW. Nave, chancel, and W tower, all C15. The W tower has diagonal buttresses with fine set-offs and battlements. Chancel with good roof with embattled wall-plates and E window of five lights with panel tracery. N arcade of two bays, with octagonal piers and double-hollow-chamfered arches. N chancel chapel of one bay with embattled capitals to the responds. - FONT. Octagonal, with sunk panels decorated by saltire crosses, shields etc. - CHANCEL STALLS. Seats with misericords decorated by simple flower and leaf motifs  - the only misericords in Essex except for Castle Hedingham. Traceried fronts and ends with poppy-heads and good carved seated figures. - PLATE. Cup and Paten on foot of 1680. - MONUMENTS. Brasses to members of the Golding family, 1587 and 1591, the figure of the man in armour, two feet long. - Tablet of 1811 by J. Challis of Braintree, a reminder of how long local craftsmen provided monuments in churches. 

Belchamp St Paul, Essex 

Belchamp St Paul, Essex

Belchamp St Paul, Essex 

BELCHAMP ST PAUL. It is St Paul because Athelstan, first King of All England, gave it to St Paul’s Cathedral a thousand years ago, and it is interesting because it was the home of a man to whom Shakespeare must always have been grateful - Arthur Golding. There are pleasant houses round the green, 17th century farms and a 15th century church among the trees. There is also still left a wing of the house in which the Goldings lived, Paul’s Hall. We see a brass portrait of William Golding at prayer in his armour
in the church; he died in 1591 and has round him his six sons and four daughters.

It was Arthur Golding’s translations from the classics that were of such great value to Shakespeare, who took other people’s stories instead of troubling to invent his own. Arthur was born about 30 years before Shakespeare, but outlived him, and he brought up in this village a boy who was to be famous in the Elizabethan scene - the poet Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Golding’s own contributions to literature are his classical translations, his chief work being Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It was from these translations that
Shakespeare took the last speech he put into Prospero’s mouth in the Tempest, so that he was using Arthur Golding’s work in the last thing he wrote for the world.

Shakespeare’s speech begins:

Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves;

and Arthur Golding’s speech begins:

Ye ayres and windes, ye elves of hilles, or brooks, or woods alone.

There is in the church a heraldic window in memory of this man who inspired Shakespeare, given by a direct descendant of his in New York.

The great sight in the church is its collection of ten old chancel stalls with tip-up seats finely carved in the 15th or 16th century. They have poppyheads with foliage, a king, and a monk holding a book. The altar table is Jacobean, an old font bowl is carved with a rose, and there is a monument to Edward Pemberton, who died in 1859 after preaching here nearly 50 years, his ancestors having preached from his pulpit in unbroken line for over a century.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Belchamp Otten, Essex

After a church viewing lay-off of over a month I re-started on Wednesday and visited this rather extraordinary church which, for all its oddness, is rather alluring. The chancel and nave appear to be original but the tower must have fallen and a concrete stub has been subsequently added.

The interior has been stripped right back to the essentials but retains a gallery pew, box pews, some old glass, an ancient coffin lid set in the chancel floor and a wonderful Norman south door - on the surface disappointing but once scratched deeply rewarding.

ST ETHELBERT AND ALL SAINTS. The nave is Norman, see the S doorway. It has two orders of columns with beaded spiral bands, decorated scalloped capitals and zigzag ornament in the arch. The windows are Perp. C19 belfry on two posts with cross-beams and arched braces. Early C19 BOX PEWS and NW GALLERY. - PULPIT. Simple with some blank arcading, c.1600. - COMMUNION RAIL with twisted balusters, c.1700. - PLATE. Cup and Paten of 1567. 

St Ethlebert & All Saints

Norman doorway

Mee says:

BELCHAMP OTTEN. Seven centuries have each brought something new to its little church, which is guarded at the gate by a great walnut tree. The nave is 12th century, the chancel 13th, the porch and the chancel arch 14th, the font with its battlemented rim 15th, the little panelled pulpit 16th or 17th, the altar rails and the small gallery-pew 18th. So has the wheel of time turned within these ancient walls; and as if to surprise us still more there is a modern belfry resting on a 15th century  cross-beam supported by two 17th century posts. The Norman south doorway is lined with zigzags and spirally fluted columns; and in several windows are interesting fragments of medieval glass, showing chiefly tabernacle work.It is only a very small village, but it is rich in houses and farms from Stuart England, some timber-framed and some with old panelling.

Flickr set.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

George Barrington, 7th Viscount Barrington

Barrington, George, 7th Viscount Barrington
George William Barrington, 7th Viscount Barrington of Ardglass, was the son of William Keppel Barrington, 6th Viscount Barrington of Ardglass and Hon. Jane Elizabeth Liddell. He was born on 14 February 1824 at Lower Brook Street, London, England. He married Isabel Elizabeth Morritt, daughter of John Morritt and Mary Baillie, on 19 February 1846 at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, , London.

Barrington, George William, 7th Viscount Barrington, Baron Shute
He died on 6 November 1886 at age 62 at Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire, after a few hours illness. He was buried at Shrivenham, Berkshire. His will was probated on 10 February 1887, at over £43,000.

Grimsthorpe Castle
He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford University, on 20 October 1841. He held the office of M.P. (Conservative) for Eye between 1866 and 1880. He succeeded to the title of 7th Viscount Barrington of Ardglass, co. Down on 9 February 1867. He succeeded to the title of 7th Baron Barrington of Newcastle, co. Limerick on 9 February 1867. He held the office of Vice-Chamberlain of the Household between 1874 and 1880. He was invested as a Privy Councellor on 2 March 1874. He held the office of Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, 14th Earl of Derby. He was created 1st Baron Shute of Becket, co. Berks on 17 April 1880, with a special remainder to his brother, Hon. Percy Barrington. He held the office of Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard between 1885 and 1886. He held the office of Captain Gentleman at Arms between August 1886 and November 1886.

George William Coventry, 6th Earl of Coventry

Coventry, George William 1722-1809
He married his first wife Maria Gunning, daughter of John Gunning of Castle Coote, Co. Roscommon, Esquire, in March 1752. Together they had one son, George William (later 7th Earl), and 3 daughters: Elizabeth Ann, who died an infant, Maria Alicia and Ann Margaret. After the death of his first wife, he remarried to Barbara, daughter of John St John, 10th Baron of St John of Bletsoe. Together they had two sons: John and Thomas William.

George William became MP for Bridport and Worcester. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum for Worcester in 1758 and served as Recorder of Worcester from 1774-1809. In October 1747 he was appointed the first co-president of Worcester Infirmary alongside the Bishop of Worcester. He chaired the annual meetings for this without fail for the next 20 years. George William served as Lord of the Bedchamber to George II and George III.

Coventry, George William, 6th Earl of Coventry
It was under George William that extensive works were carried out on Croome Court and the surrounding parkland. His elder brother, Thomas, had many plans for improvements he wished to make. His untimely death affected his younger brother greatly and the transformation of Croome by George William owes largely to his desire to carry out his wishes. Not long after death of his elder brother, George William began to put his plans for the estate into action. Survey work was carried out, fields were exchanged, divided and enclosed and there was reduction in leaseholders between 1749-50, which was made possible by doubling the rent. Formal gardens were also swept away, creating a blank canvas for work to begin. Around 1751 Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (1716-1783) was commissioned to work on the designs for the house and the garden. He was to continue working at Croome for over 30 years, until his death in 1782 on his way home from dining with the Coventry family. Croome is believed to be the first complete landscape design by 'Capability' Brown. This places particular importance upon the original plant bills and accounts in the collection, which show evidence of the original work carried out at this time.

Croome Court
George William also employed Scottish architect and designer, Robert Adam(1728-1792), to work on the redesign of the house and its surrounding buildings. Apart from his work on the house and the church at Croome, Adam designed most of the important buildings in the park, including the Temple Greenhouse, the Alcove or Park Seat, the London Arch and the pier gates, and possibly Dunstall castle. Architect James Wyatt completed the work in the park after Adam's death and developed the design of the Panorama tower from Adam's drawings. Original letters and bills from Adam's work survive in the Croome archive.

'Capability' Brown was also commissioned to build a new house for the Earl on his Broadway estate around 1763, called Springhill House. This was built with the aim of allowing the Earl a place in Worcestershire where he could retreat from his arduous social and official duties. In 1764 the Earl acquired another new home, Coventry House, in Piccadilly, London.

George William died 3rd September 1809 at Coventry House, aged 87. His body was taken to Croome and is said to have been met at Evesham by a whole body of his tenants. The funeral procession was said to have been 1 mile long. A monument to the Earl was erected in Croome Park, on the jubilee of George III later that year.

Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus

Douglas, Archibald, 6th Earl of Angus
In 1509, Douglas married Margaret, daughter of the Earl of Bothwell. After her death in 1513 he married, on August 6 1514, the queen dowager and regent, Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV and elder sister of Henry VIII. The marriage stirred up the jealousy of the nobles and the opposition of the faction supporting French influence in Scotland. Civil war broke out and Margaret lost the regency to John Stuart, Duke of Albany.

Angus withdrew to his estates in Forfarshire, while Albany besieged the queen at Stirling and got possession of the royal children; then he joined Margaret after her flight at Morpeth and on her departure for London returned and made his peace with Albany in 1516. He met her once more at Berwick in June 1517, when Margaret returned to Scotland on Albany's departure in vain hopes of regaining the regency.

Meanwhile, during Margaret's absence, Angus had become involved with a daughter of the Laird of Traquair. Margaret avenged his neglect of her by refusing to support his claims for power and by secretly trying through Albany to get a divorce. In Edinburgh Angus held his own against the attempts of James Hamilton to dislodge him. But the return of Albany in 1521, with whom Margaret now sided against her husband, deprived him of power. The regent took the government into his own hands, Angus was charged with high treason in December and in March 1522 was sent practically a prisoner to France, whence he succeeded in escaping to London in 1524.

He returned to Scotland in November with promises of support from Henry VIII, with whom he made a close alliance. Margaret, however, refused to have anything to do with her husband. On the 23rd, therefore, Angus forced his way into Edinburgh, but was fired upon by Margaret and retreated to Tantallon Castle.
He now organized a large party of nobles against Margaret with the support of Henry VIII and in February 1525 they entered Edinburgh and called a parliament. Angus was made a Lord of the Articles, was included in the Council of regency, bore the king's crown on the opening of the session and with Archbishop Beaton held the chief power. In March he was appointed Lord Warden of the Marches and suppressed the disorder and anarchy on the border. In July the guardianship of the King was entrusted to him for a fixed period (until the 1st of November) but he refused at its close to retire and advancing to Linlithgow put to flight Margaret and his opponents.

He now, with his followers, engrossed all the power, succeeded in gaining over some of his antagonists, including Arran and the Hamiltons, and filled the public offices with Douglases, he himself becoming Chancellor. 'None that time durst strive against a Douglas nor Douglas's man'.
The young king, James V, now fourteen, was far from content under the tutelage of Angus but he was closely guarded and several attempts to free him were foiled. Angus defeated John Stuart (qv), 3rd Earl of Lennox, who had advanced towards Edinburgh with 10,000 men in August and subsequently took Stirling. After his military successes, he reconciled with Beaton, and in 1527 and 1528 was busy in restoring order through the country.

On 11 March 1528 Margaret succeeded in obtaining her divorce from Angus and about the end of the month she and her lover, Henry Stewart, were besieged at Stirling. A few weeks later, however, James escaped from Angus's custody, took refuge with Margaret and Arran at Stirling and immediately proscribed Angus and all the Douglases, forbidding them to come within seven miles of his person.

Angus, having fortified himself in Tantallon, was attainted and his lands confiscated. Repeated attempts by James to subdue the fortress failed and on one occasion Angus captured the royal artillery. At length, Tantallon was given up as a condition of a truce between England and Scotland, and in May 1529 Angus sought refuge with Henry VIII, obtained a pension and took an oath of allegiance, Henry promising to make his restoration a condition of peace.


tantallon castle

tantallon castle1
Angus had been largely guided in his intrigues with England by his brother, Sir George Douglas of Pittendriech, Master of Angus (died 1552), a far more clever diplomat than himself. George's life and lands were also declared forfeit, as were those of his uncle, Archibald Douglas of Kilspindie (died 1535), known by the nickname of Greysteel, who had been a friend of James. These men fled into exile.

James avenged himself on such Douglases as he could. Angus's third sister Janet, Lady Glamis, was summoned to answer a charge of communicating with her brothers and when she failed to appear, her estates were forfeited. In 1537 she was tried for conspiring against the king's life. She was found guilty and burnt on the Castle Hill, Edinburgh on 17th July 1537. Her innocence has been generally assumed but Tytler (History of Scotland, iv. pp. 433, 434) considered her guilty.

Angus remained in England until 1542, joining in the attacks upon his countrymen on the border, while James refused all demands from Henry VIII for his restoration and kept firm to his policy of suppressing the Douglas faction.

On James V's death in 1542 Angus returned to Scotland, with instructions from Henry to negotiate a marriage between Mary Stuart and Edward VI. His forfeiture was rescinded, his estates restored and he was made a privy councillor and lieutenant-general.

In 1543, he successfully negotiated a peace treaty and the marriage, and the same year he married Margaret, daughter of Robert, Lord Maxwell. Shortly afterwards a struggle between Angus and the regent Arran broke out and in April 1544 Angus was captured.

The same year Lord Hertford's marauding expedition, which did not spare the lands of Angus, made him join the anti-English party. He entered into a bond with Arran and others to maintain their allegiance to Mary and gave his support to the mission sent to France to offer the latter's hand. In July 1544 he was appointed lieutenant of the south of Scotland and distinguished himself on 27th February 1545 in the victory over the English at Ancrum Moor.

He still corresponded with Henry VIII but nevertheless signed, in 1546, the act cancelling the marriage and peace treaty, and on 10th September commanded the van in the great defeat of Pinkie, when he again won fame. In 1548 the attempt by Lennox and Wharton to capture him and punish him for his duplicity failed, Angus escaping after his defeat to Edinburgh by sea, and Wharton being driven back to Carlisle.

Under the regency of Mary of Lorraine his restless and ambitious character, and the number of his retainers, gave cause for frequent alarms to the government. On 31st August 1547 he resigned his earldom, obtaining a regrant sibi et suis haeredibus masculis et suis assignatis quibuscumque.

His career was a long struggle for power and for the interests of his family, to which national considerations were completely subordinate. He died in January 1557. By Margaret Tudor he had Margaret, his only surviving legitimate child, who married the Earl of Lennox, and was mother of Lord Darnley. He was succeeded by his nephew David, son of Sir George Douglas of Pittendriech.