Monday, 22 August 2011

Useful Website

Just uncovered a great website of pictures of historic churches, particularly within Sussex.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

St Mary-in-Castro, Dover

As I mentioned in the previous post that we holidayed in Dover this year. One of the main highlights of the trip was, of course, a visit to Dover Castle, perhaps the most impressive castle in the country. Contained there-in is St Mary-in-Castro.

Parts of the current building go back to Saxon times, roughly 1000AD, and although, as the plaque below explains it had fallen into ruin, parts of the old building remain. Next to it is a Roman pharos (lighthouse), parts of which were used by the Saxons who built the church.The inside of the church is also most impressive. I didn't take a photo of it, but thankfully, someone else has.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Notre Dame, Calais, France

We went on holiday to Dover this year, and so Nina (pictured) and I popped over to France for a day (as we were the only ones with valid passports. Notre Dame there is neither as stunning nor as well known as its Parisian namesake, but it's still a beautiful building. The inside was very busy, and no-one else seemed to be taking photos so I didn't either (save a subtle click for the one below).Outside the church there is a helpful panel which explains a bit more about the building and it's conveniently been translated into English as well as being in French. Here's a quick snap of that.

I must admit that I'm fascinated by gargoyles and grotesques, but the frustrating thing is always trying to get a decent shot of one. Of those outside these were the best I could do.

Thankfully there was one, which had presumably fallen off at some point, standing up inside the church and it gave me a chance to get a closer look at these usually out of sight objects.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

St Wulfran's, Ovingdean, Sussex

St Wulfran's, OvingdeanI came across this one quite by accident, it's 11th century Norman, and quite a nice little church. Sadly I could't look round even though someone was in the building, presumably for security reasons. I can fully understand why the staff of this church follow this policy, as attacks on the clergy sadly do happen. It's a shame though that the tiny minority cause such fear as to spoil it for the rest of us, and that the church isn't open except for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon in the summer.The the church's website has a good bit on the church's history, although that only serves to make me regret even more not being able the inside. The Kempe Ceiling looks spectacular, and the altar is also very lovingly decorated. Perhaps next time I'm in Brighton I'll make sure I get there on a Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

St. Peter's, Henfield, Sussex

On holiday this year we went to a campsite just north of Brighton near Henfield. Here are some images of the Parish Church. I have an information leaflet on the building somewhere which I will add to this post if I ever get a moment. For now there's a little bit about the site on the Henfield village page. You can view the detail on the final image by clicking on it to see one at a larger resolution

(Click on image to view a larger version)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

St. Mary de Haura, Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex

For some reason I didn't take an outside picture of St. Mary de Haura, which we find in the south coast's Shoreham-by-Sea. I did take a picture of the ruined Norman remains, but not the building itself.

The town has a number of churches of note, but it's St. Mary's which is the most celebrated, featuring in Simon Jenkins' England's "1000 Best Churches" and, according to the church's own website, in Tim Tatton-Brown & John Crook's "The English Church: England's 100 Finest Parish Churches".
Photos inside were a bit limited too, as the nave was closed off to the public by gates low enough to hop over, but assertive enough to insist that this really wasn't the kind of thing one should do. The point of such gates is questionnable however. Anyone intent on vandalism would not share my qualms, so they only function to keep the good out whilst permitting the bad easy access.
I don't imagine my daughter would thank me for posting the above photo, but time was short so I had to make do. It's the font that's the point of this photo, nicely decorated. Below is a shot of the nave in all its splendour.
There are some more details about the church building and it's history on the church's website, as well as some far better photos than the ones you see here, including one of the Green Man, the plan of the original, the font without a leering 5 year old, the commemorative cross, the stained glass windows and an oyster shell colour-dish.

They have also included some more in-depth articles available as pdfs. This is an excellent resource and I hope more of our great church buildings follow suit as time goes on.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

St. Mary's, Swynnerton, Staffs.

At the moment I'm very far behind and just trying to get a few pictures up before I forget all about the individual churches. It's a shame because I'd love to write more about St. Mary's, A 12th century Norman church with some beautiful Norman arches, a handful of gargoyles and a 7 foot statue of Jesus, possibly moved from Lichfield Cathedral. Images are rather hard to re-arrange so hopefully you'll forgive the random order.

Friday, 15 July 2011

St. Nicholas's, Fulford, Staffs.

I called in at St. Nicholas, Fulford on my first day of visits for the Church Urban Fund. I've not seen many older church buildings that are made of brick and this one was rather charming.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

In my teenage years I attended Abbey Grange School in Leeds, named after the formerly great abbey in North West Leeds. The Abbey was rarely used then, free to visit, but hardly inundated with visitors.

However, as is evident from these pictures things at Kirkstall Abbey have changed a bit now. There's a visitors centre and once a year (at least) a festival which I attended with my children and a friend.

Friday, 1 July 2011

St. Matthew's, Normanton, Rutland

According to some, St Matthew's Church, Normanton, or at least what remains of it, is Rutland's greatest landmark. It sits just off the southern shore of the man-made Rutland Water resevoir / leisure area / nature reserve. The bulding that we see today is apparently only the top of the old church, which was a private chapel on the Normanton Estate.
Rutland Water was created in the 1970s and is now the largest (by area) resevoir in England by damming the twin valleys of the river Gwash. But when it became clear from the plans that St. Matthew's was going to be demolished there was public outcry. In the end the lower half of the church was filled to just below window level with limestone and rubble and it was capped with concrete. Externally, a bank was to be built to give protection from the water, and a causeway was to be laid to provide access (source).
The church itself dates back to the 1820s and it was buit by Thomas Cundy (source). It's an unusual building in many ways: not at all typical for its time, indeed unlike the majority of churches in this country looking Greek on a superficial level. Knowing that it's base lies burried in the deep also makes it hard to grasp it architecturally. The most prominent feature is of course the tower supported by 4 stone pillars. But what did it look like below?
The most intricate work sits at the top, which is difficult to see without getting wet - although no harder than it must have been when you had to view it from the old ground level. The imagery is fairly neutral. It has no particularly recogniseable Christian symbols, not even a cross, with the detailed sculpting seemingly being plant inspired.
Sadly we arrived just to late to have a look at the inside (which is now a museum), but there was precious little there of interest church-wise.

Sunday, 5 June 2011


Thanks for dropping by and welcome to my Historic churches blog. Over the past few years I've developed an interest in the many old and occasionally ancient churches cropping up all over the British landscape, and as I now work for the Church Urban Fund visiting churches across the East Midlands I thought I'd mix business with pleasure a little and promote some of these historical artefacts as I go along.

Incidentally if you'd like to contribute to the work of the Church Urban Fund - who support grassroots projects working in the poorest 10% of communities - then you can read more about our work here.