Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Newark Area Churches, Part Two

All Saints, Elston
Back to our A46 trip on a lovely summer’s day in August.  The next church we visited was at Elston, a village with, surprisingly, two medieval churches.  The parish church, another one dedicated to All Saints, has rather strange proportions with a slender tower which looks rather too high for the church below it, quite the reverse of the church at East Stoke.  But it is another church packed with interest, particularly the many monuments to the Darwin family from Elston Hall including Erasmus Darwin, physician, scientist and poet, and grandfather of Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin's Grandfather

Elston Chapel: Georgian Interior
In fields east of the village lies Elston Chapel, a simple almost domestic looking medieval building from the outside (see photo in the October blog, "Getting there and getting in"). Inside though it has the original Georgian pews, pulpit and wall paintings and you get something of the sense of what many small churches must have been like before Victorian restorers did their work.  Now redundant and like nearby Cotham the Chapel is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.  Both churches are kept open and both, interestingly, have old graffiti around the entrance doorway

 Syerston is the next village down the A46.  It has a rather plain long church, without either aisles or clerestory.  However when we visited the porch was surmounted by a very attractive garland of flowers left over from a recent wedding.  It is normally locked but the keyholder is nearby; unfortunately though not at home when we visited.

Wedding Garland at Syerston

St Augustine, Flintham, has a rather unusual layout with a central tower, a rather plain early C19 nave and much earlier chancel.  Evidence of early herringbone masonry in the lower part of the tower and on its south side a filled in arch where a transept or south aisle may have been attached.  Inside an early monument to a crusader, possibly Sir John Hose.

Flintham Crusader
 Sibthorpe was next, formerly a collegiate church now much reduced with both north and south aisles removed.  Now, following repairs and restoration in the C17, C19, and more recently, it now appears plain and neat on the outside with simple C19 windows on the south side and original windows reset on the north side.  Inside, however, there are more riches, with yet another Easter sepulchre, not as grand as at Hawton and an elaborate alabaster tomb of 1590 to Edward Burnell.  In an adjacent field is a Gr 1 listed C13 or C14 dovecote, the only building related to the former collegiate foundation that survives.  
Sibthorpe Easter Sepulchre

Sibthorpe: Monument to Edward Burnell

Sibthorpe Dovecote
Krys from Krakow

It was at Sibthorpe that we first met up with a Polish church crawler, Krys from Krakow, who was cycling round that day like us visiting local village churches.  He followed us round for the rest of our trip proving that touring churches by bike was really the way we should have been travelling.  Next summer maybe. Incidentally, Krys was one of several church crawlers from Europe that we came across this summer.

The next church was at Hawksworth, unfortunately locked.  Hawksworth is again a small village with quite a large church, unusually with a brick tower from the C17, with much of the exterior fabric of the nave and chancel dating from various C19 restorations.  The distinguishing feature of the church, however, is the C11 tympanum now set in the south wall of the tower depicting the Adoration of the Cross with an inscription in Latin that translates roughly as “Gauterus and his wife Cecilina have caused this church to be made to honour our Lord, the Virgin Mary and all saints of God as well”.  It’s a long time since I did O Level Latin and I really must try to swot up over the winter as we often find Latin inscriptions, even in the smallest of rural churches.

Hawksworth Tympanum
Screveton in the afternoon sun
The last church of the day was Screveton.  As we arrived the grass in the churchyard was being cut and the late afternoon sun was very pleasant.  And it was nice to see a village church with red tiles for a change.  Inside there are several points of interest particularly a lovely C12 font and tucked away in the lower tower chamber a massive alabaster monument dated 1583 to Sir Richard Whalley, his three wives and 25 children.  The monument must have stood in a more prominent place in the church at one time but maybe it was moved temporarily while restoration took place but once moved the cost of moving it back may have been considered too much?  Or perhaps it was just in the way?  Just a thought.

Screveton C12 Font

Monument to Sir Richard Whalley and his many children
So many wonderful churches, so little time.  We visited 90 this year.  Looking forward to next year’s 90!

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