Tuesday, 4 August 2015

South Cerney - a Cotswold Village

photographed through a rain streaked window
The earth was parched, finally the longed for rains fell like stair-rods from the heavens, the garden breathed a sigh of relief, but not this bedraggled juvenile Robin - he was not a happy fellow. 
Next day dawned bright and sunny, the air smelt fresh and sweet - let's retrace our steps to the village where Farmer David crafted us a traditional medieval bee-skep.
Last visited in the wake of the January 2014 floods 
when this benign and gentle stream turned into a raging torrent
burst her banks and flooded the road
During the winter visit my curiosity had been aroused by this cordoned fruit tree and I wondered what bounty she would yield
A tangible reminder of South Cerney's historical past is this medieval meeting cross. Sadly only the base and steps are original. Now surmounted by what appears to be a Victorian obelisk topped with ball and metal cross - 
 All Hallows church 
The wedding service is over, but we will bide our time and wander around the graveyard before going inside
wedding confetti
A huge coffin thought to be Roman
 Cirencester - Roman town Corinium is just a stone's throw away
Medieval sun dial
The north Norman doorway - a single order showing a chevron arch, plain tympanum, and
jambs with scalloped capitals.  
The south Norman doorway is an elaborate piece of work though much weathered. The arch has three orders 
the central one a roll moulding with different beakheads
The outer has chevrons set at right angles and
the carving of the inner order has spindly foliage reminiscent of Viking Ringerike style
The hoodmould is decorated with rosettes with large beast headstops
 similar to the Deerhurst Dragons
It was not possible to photograph the tympanum, it is small and protected by netting to prevent the birds despoiling it. It shows Christ in Glory, and below, the Harrowing of Hell
Inside we have come to see a resin copy of a treasure dating back to 1130. Just over one hundred years ago the remains from a crucifix, just a head and foot, were discovered hidden in the wall by the chancel arch. They are so rare and unique that they are now housed in special atmospheric conditions in The British Museum. It is assumed that the then complete crucifix was concealed during the Reformation when images of Christ and the saints were the object of wholesale destruction. These two pieces are all that survives, they are the only wooden Romanesque crucifix remains anywhere in the British Isles. It is a salutary thought that virtually all churches, large and small, would have had a wooden carved crucifix on their Rood or Choir Screen by the 12th century, which serves to highlight the great importance of this survival. 

This is an image of the actual head courtesy The British Museum. It is considered to be a masterpiece of the English Romanesque period.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Eighth Month

I have neglected to photograph the flowers in our garden this year but this is what the camera saw yesterday - the last day of July

Enjoy and make the most of this summer season♡

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Two Summer Fruits

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
A.E. Housman 1859-1936 - A Shropshire Lad
Late July and the cherries are ripe
Cherry Ripe by John Everett Millais - 1879

Penelope Boothby
Millais's Cherry Ripe was loosely based on Joshua Reynolds's portrait of Penelope Boothby whose sad little tale and exquisite marble tombstone I showed here
  Cherry Ripe written by Robert Herrick in the C16 was put to music by Charles Edward Horn during the C18
The refrain Cherry Ripe is thought to have originated as a street trader's cry

Cicely Mary Barker - Cherry Tree Fairy
Cherries are loaded with antioxidants which help to fight disease, very rich in vitamin C, and high in iron
Similarly peaches too are rich in antioxidants along with vitamin C and contain the minerals potassium, fluoride, and iron 
William Mason Brown C1880
Cherries and Peaches are featured frequently on paintings. On this link there are 91 paintings of peaches covering more than five centuries.

 Both fruits are used as idioms in the English language to express how wonderful everything is - life is 'a bowl of cherries or a peach' - however, when spoken satirically the meaning is the opposite
Peach Conserve
I simply want to enjoy them whilst they are here and once again that easy French recipe comes in so handy

Friday, 24 July 2015

St Mary's Stow-in-Lindsey

Big skies, wide rolling landscapes crisscrossed by ancient watery dykes, willow tree fringed; views as far as the eye can see; these for me define the Lincolnshire Wolds and Fens
There is something very appealing about the vernacular architecture of
long low slung cottages sitting beneath pretty terracotta pan-tiled roofs 
However, some of the oldest surviving buildings still in use in Lincolnshire are churches, many of which were built before the Norman Conquest in 1066. Fragments of these buildings still survive today, in some cases more than fragments, and one of those churches is St Mary's Stow-in-Lindsey. It is one of the oldest parish churches in England; founded in the C7 and considered to have originally served as the Cathedral Church to the ancient diocese of Lindsey, that is, until Lincoln Cathedral was constructed in the C11. 
 Lincoln Cathedral - Norman at its heart but a triumphal tribute to C12 - C14 Early English Gothic style 

The Worlds Monuments Fund lists St. Mary's as being one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. It is in desperate need of weatherproofing and then for the internal decoration work to be addressed. The good news is that this major work and restoration is now underway.

A pleasing example of window history summarising the story that is St. Mary's.
The slit window is Saxon, the round window late Norman, whilst the Decorated Gothic window dates from the C13
Viewed from the outside the Saxon window has a simple 'palmette' decoration to the hood; there are Saxon long and short stone quoins at the corners similar to those seen at Odda's Chapel, Deerhurst. 

Mighty original Saxon arches in the central crossing remain
Once supporters of a Saxon tower now replaced by a C15 tower. The Saxon arches are sadly rather diminished and overpowered by the later Gothic arches erected to support the new tower
Quote by Simon Jenkins
"The Gothic arches have worked their way into the old structure like four sturdy youths sent to help their elders bear the burden"
The Chancel is a magnificent piece of Norman architecture for a parish church. I find Norman round arches aesthetically pleasing with their crisply incised geometric and chevron patterns.
Exquisitely carved crenellations around some of the windows and crisp zigzag carving to the rib vaults in the Chancel
Fragments only of an early wall painting survive
An illustration shows how it would have looked. On the right sits Archbishop Thomas à Becket at dinner in his chamber. A dish and plate on the table with two attendants. On the left can be seen part of the interior of Canterbury Cathedral - the chapel of St. Benedict. A chalice and book with Greek letters A and Ω; alpha and omega - first and last. The Archbishop is shown dressed in cloak and hood with his hands extended in prayer. Two threatening swords can be seen: one held by Reginald FitzUrse and the other by Richard le Breton, the two knights who delivered the first blows to Becket. The wallpainting is showing the murder of Thomas à Becket and is a rare survivor

C10 graffiti can be seen at the base of the Chancel wall - it is the earliest known representation of a Viking ship in England - thought to be the work of a Scandinavian trader. The Vikings were a powerful force locally during that period. The shallow graffiti in the stone did not show up well so I have imposed a drawing on top of it.
A nice little group of carved faces showing traces of early paintwork are thought to have been used to support a statue
Two musicians supporting a stone shelve

From the exterior the lofty stone walls and steep pitched roof, once thatched, reveal the saxon building. I have seen an illustration showing that the Saxon tower would have been shorter, topped with a pyramidal style roof, also thatched. There was so much that I could not photograph in this church - the early Gothic octagon font showing pagan images on its eight faces amongst them a Green Man, a Pentagram, and an imagined grotesque fish, the Norman carved surround to the entrance door, and in fact a view of the whole outside of the church. The side to the left of this photo, the nave, was completely hidden by scaffolding and covered in wraps both inside and out whilst the major restoration work is carried out.

Visited end of May 2015