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
pears!
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. 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.

50 comments:

  1. An incredible church with many treasures! So interesting to see the head as well, that is the best treasure of all isn't it. I love the espaliered pear tree! Although it would be wasted on me as I don't care for pears! xx

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    1. I find the face very poetic, and serene

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  2. Wonderfull place to visit, nice church ,ld stones, greeting from mons in Belgium
    blog my city Mons http://louisette.eklablog.com

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    1. Thank you for visiting - I am pleased that you enjoyed visiting the church

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  3. A wonderful interesting historical post with beautiful photo's. I also like that first photo of the soaked robin, so funny. The pears cordoned tree I have never seen before. Here we only have the "normal" fruit trees as far as I know.

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    1. That little Robin looks much happier now in the sunshine - apparently cordoned or espaliered trees were first done by the Romans but during the middle ages Europeans refined it into an art especially using it within walled gardens belonging to stately mansions and castles.

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  4. Such an interesting church to visit, but most amazing is the pear tree against the wall.......

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    1. The pear tree has been very well maintained to keep such a good regular shape, I wonder how old it is?

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  5. What an interesting church. Just imagine being the finder of that crucifix!
    I love the photo of the Robin ... it looks like a painting.

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    1. It must have been a very exciting moment to discover the remains of the crucifix - the Robin seemed to be asking to come in.

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  6. Lovely to see the places at different times, from trickle to torrent. I love the medieval sun dial, and great to catch the church with the beautiful wedding flowers.

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    1. We have been meaning to return to the village for some time, and when we did, discovered that it held lots of interest for us.

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  7. That dear little bird, you capture it well.
    Really a nice entrance where the bride stands...love the arching foliage.
    The colours in the stone so different to what I've seen...the arch..
    The flowers are beautiful, I see golden privot is in order...

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    1. The colour is the stonework must have leeched out over the centuries but I like it. The little Robin is funny with the little tuft of wet feathers standing up on his face.

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  8. South Carney sounds familiar, I think we've been there, if not will be looking for it on our next trip.

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    1. There is a South and North Cerney with Cirencester sitting between them

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  9. Thank you for this post about such a beautiful church of historical asset, Rosemary. Antique architectures with stone walls always fascinate me. I’ve never seen such form of pear tree. In winter the unique pear tree adorns the wall with interesting patterns of parallel branches and in summer it looks like a creeper. The drenched Robbin might have been miserable but looks so cute. I long for rain to soften the terrible heat of unusually hot summer, too.

    Yoko

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    1. We now need some more rain too Yoko - our lawn is turning yellow
      The pear tree is like a little work of art on the side of the house, and as you mention it makes an attractive feature in both the winter and the summer, and gives fruit too.

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  10. Dear Rosemary,

    The more I am seeing Norman architecture through your eyes, the more I am enjoying it. I am aquiring a fondness for the layered arches and the scalloped capitals! It's interesting to see both a clock and sun dial on the same wall.

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    1. I suspect that the clock arrived on the church wall around the mid C19.
      I know that you are really a 'Gothic Man' Mark but I am pleased that you are enjoying seeing the Norman architecture - there is quite a lot of it in this corner of the world. Over the main entrance doorway I enjoyed the way the Normans have cleverly set the chevron pattern at right angles giving it a subtle difference to the other entrance.

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  11. What a lovely post of a beautiful place. So nice you went back at a happier time to see it at its best. Xxx

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    1. The stream is one of many that lead eventually into the River Thames, and no doubt was one of those that helped to swell the Thames during the floods of 2014

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  12. Ah, poor sweet little Robin! South Cerney is a lovely interesting place to visit, Rosemary. The pear tree looks amazing, so beautiful, and the church is full of wonders. The Romanesque crucifix is wonderful; I'd love to see it in the British Museum if we ever get a chance to go back there :)

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    1. Dear Patricia - it is very fortunate that the head survived, the rest of the crucifix must have perished over the centuries whilst it was hidden in the wall. The face is lovely very serene and peaceful looking.

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  13. As usual, the most beautiful pictures, and once again I think what a delightful area you live in. I have visited South Cerney quite often but - and this is the crucial thing - never on the bike. Hence, I've missed so many of these details which would absolutely delight me to find when cycling through. (and stopping to look at things on the way).

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    1. It is certainly a good area for making new discoveries - there are a host of little lanes and villages that I have not yet discovered even though we have lived here for almost 20 years. Thank you for your kind comment Jenny.

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  14. Poor robin it does look drenched! I was only reading an article about skeps yesterday and thought of yours. It was lovely to see this village in the summer too. Those pears look so good too. That is an amazing discovery in the church. Sarah x

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    1. It must have been very exciting for those who made the discovery and then to find out that it was totally unique and the only remaining piece of wooden Romanesque art work left in the country

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  15. A wonderful post again Rosemary. Through your pictures I can imagine the athmosphere in and around the church, I hear birds chirping and feel the tranquility of a place with so many history connected to it, but still alive and part of todays world nevertheless. I love discovering so many historical and interesting places I had never heard of through your blog. Thank you!

    Have a lovely day!
    Marian

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    1. Thank you Marian - delighted that you have been able to conjure up this small village in your minds eye - it is a very peaceful village, but also has much going on - the local pub had lots of people sitting outside under sunshades eating their lunch.

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  16. Another thoroughly enjoyable virtual visit to England Rosemary! What a shame that so little remains from that whole era of the wooden crucifixes. Loved seeing the image from the British Museum of the real head. It is so beautifully carved and has an ethereal beauty to it.

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    1. It was fortunate that the head was the principal survivor as it shows how sensitively the sculptor has carved the wood - ethereal beauty describes it perfectly.

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  17. Stunning interesting post about.
    Old architecture is beautiful.
    Fruit tree is a wonderful, grown in a funny way.
    Greeting Liplatus

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    1. Yes, you are right the pear tree has been grown using the cordoned or espaliered method which is a highly skilled method of growing fruit trees.

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  18. Dear Rosemary,

    You and your camera is a perfect match and I love how you bring us along on these beautiful adventures and make us see the beauty in both big and small. The Robin is so beautiful and that fruit tree... that picture will be in my mind every time I look at our big stone house from now on. It once had vine growing on one of it's walls, maybe it's time again. ;)

    Take care sweet Rosemary and I hope you're enjoying just as beautiful summer weather as we're doing in Sweden right now?♥

    Charlie
    xx

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    1. Stone walls really benefit from something growing up them, but they can require a lot of maintenance. I suspect that this pear tree is quite easy to keep now it is established - perhaps just a little pruning each autumn to keep it trim. I had a house once that had Virginia Creeper growing over it which looked very pretty especially when the leaves turned red but I was forever up and down the ladder keeping it away from the roof and the windows.
      Thanks for your kind comment Charlie and lovely to hear from you - take care♥

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  19. Poor little Robin. Oh my the mansion is lovely......and the stone carvings seem to be well preserved.. I am wondering if Bow Wow was because there was a dog on the other side...or was it the name of the street?

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    1. I am sorry but I really do not know why it is called Bow Wow, but it is a rather wonderful name for a little lane. I shall have to return and explore it a bit more at some time. Essentially it is a small lane, but not for traffic. The River Churn runs down one side of it and a mill stream runs along the other side. There is apparently a mill at the end of the lane - we ran out of time on this visit.

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  20. Thank you for another wonderful peek into your life and your countryside :) I was wondering how you will use the bee skep? Beekeeping is becoming popular in my province as people have become concerned about the number of bee colony die-offs and wish to help some way. I'm happy to say there have been a record number of bees visiting my garden this summer.

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    1. Dear Rosemary the bee skep together with a little wooden bee hotel that I have are for solitary bees only not honey bees. Bee keeping is a complicated and dedicated art. These places require no care and are so that the solitary bees have somewhere safe to lay their eggs which remain in situ until the following spring.
      I have noticed lots of bees in the garden too this year, but a shortage of butterflies.
      You can see the little bee hotel here
      http://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/santas-little-gift.html

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  21. I always enjoy your beautiful posts Rosemary...what a lovely place and interesting history!
    Have a sunny day!

    Titti

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    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed seeing South Cerney Titti - thank you

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  22. Lovely photos as usually. I love to look your part of world. Your landscape is beautiful.
    Hugs

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    1. I enjoy the way the landscape has been enhanced by the antiquity of the buildings - gives me lots to photograph

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  23. Wow, Rosemary, your amazing photos of this wonderful place actually had me welling up. Not sure if it is nostalgia for that historical part of England that I find nowhere else, and which always touches me deeply, or just the beauty of your pictures and what you have captured. We are in great need of rain here and it's far too hot, but I feel somewhat refreshed now!! Thank you. Axxx

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    1. My brother, living in Canada, is exactly the same. If he sees an apple orchard, a Devon country lane, or an English Pub it sets him off feeling nostalgic. Our history and countryside are very deeply rooted within us all. Is it possible that when seen from abroad it may be viewed through rose tinted glasses?

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  24. I spotted an antique bee skep recently at an antiques fair, mounted on a wooden frame, perhaps for carrying. I was very tempted to buy it, but we don't have suitable home for it. A large, slightly shabby conservatory would have been perfect.

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    1. Hello Nilly - a niche in a garden wall would have been a perfect home for it

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  25. Another Cotswold gem I must visit one day. You have a wonderful eye for detail, Rosemary, and your new camera takes sup[erb photos.

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    1. Thanks Perpetua - glad that you enjoyed the details

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