Churches

Church Flower

Ballflowers on pew

The Monday Photo

In the Decorated period of church design, (1280 to 1377) the favourite ornament was the ball-flower.

But this isn’t just a ball-flower, and it’s not from the Decorated period; it was carved in 1863 when this church was refurbished.

This is a closer look at the pulpit of All Saints, Hulcott, which I showed you last week. It’s an example of the Gothic Revival style.

A ball-flower or ballflower is a carved globular flower with three curved petals. They curve round a smaller globe in the centre, though this example isn’t very crisp now.

The four symmetrical petals you can see around this one aren’t seen in carvings from the Decorated period. The ballflower stands alone, usually in evenly spaced rows and sometimes alternating with other ornaments.

You are most likely to see them in the concave part of a decorative moulding around a column top or along a wall.

The ornaments of this pulpit alternate too. They are both carved inside the same square shape, so it’s not obvious at first. But this is where close study pays off; it’s finding those little details that make looking at churches so worthwhile.


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Church Break

Remains of rood loft  Hulcott  BucksThe outline of the access to the rood loft and the corbel that supported it are still visible in the middle of the picture. Also visible are cracks in the wall, on both sides of the chancel arch on the left.

This is All Saints, at Hulcott; it’s in a bad way.

There are serious structural problems that show up as cracks in the walls, visible in some of these photos. The floor is below ground level and floods in heavy rain. The state of the bell frame means that only the smallest of the three bells can be rung, and only occasionally.

Despite these problems, this 14th Century building is not unsafe and is open during daylight hours. (My thanks to the parishioners who delayed locking up while I took my last photos inside) It is still consecrated.

Continue reading "Church Break" »

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Get the Point

Church of St James  Hanslope

The Monday Photo

Here’s the tallest spire in the whole county, and it’s 186 feet to the very top. This is St James the Great, at Hanslope.

The spire had originally been 200 feet tall, but in 1804 it took a lightning strike which destroyed the top; it had to be rebuilt and I think they lost some stone when the bolt hit.

The tower and spire were built in 1409 by the Rector Thomas Knight. It, er, towers above the rest of the church, which has at the far end a 12th Century Norman chancel. Much of the rest of the church was built between these two dates.

Spires are not common in North Bucks, but Hanslope, like Olney with it’s own church spire, is close to Northamptonshire, where spires are very popular.

Remember last week’s Monday Photo, where I showed you the bells of Hanslope church and mentioned how much the tower swung when the bells were rung?

Now you can see how tall it is. Stone is a lot more flexible than you think…

I used my Sony A6000 and 16-50mm zoom lens like this one for this week's photos. It's compact and light; a great camera for carrying around every day.


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New Rings

The bells of St James the Great  Hanslope

The Monday Photo

By 2012 Hanslope church’s bells had become increasingly difficult to ring.

After an inspection by the bellhangers Whites of Appleton, the church decided to have the eight bells retuned and refurbished, and hung in a new frame.

The new frame would have provision for adding two more bells, and be placed lower in the tower; this would reduce the amount of movement in the tower when the bells were rung. The old frame is still in place above the new one.

It wouldn’t be until September 2019 that the work began. The bells were removed and taken to the Whites workshop at Appleton, Oxfordshire.

As ever with refurbishment work it all takes longer than planned, so it wasn’t until August 2020 that Whites brought the bells back to St James the Great’s, and began to replace them in the tower.

I took this photo at the church’s open day this year, and a little while later I managed to be at the top of the tower by the base of the spire when they rang the 22 cwt tenor bell.

The tower still swings a bit, but certainly not as much as when the bells were mounted higher.

Hanslope's spire is the tallest in Bucks, at 186 feet. I wonder how much the top used to swing when the bells were in their old higher position…

I used this lens for the photo in this post.

 

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Church and Street

Beachampton church  restored by G. E. Street

The Monday Photo

This is the Church of the Assumption of St. Mary, in Beachampton. Like many so other churches in Victorian times, it underwent restoration.

This wasn’t always a good thing. Often, traces of history were wiped away; clues to the true story of the building would be gone forever in what was more often a remodelling than what we think of as a restoration today.

This tower is 14th Century, but the open balustrade and spire above were added in the 19th Century; behind the balustrade is the bell chamber.

I couldn’t get in yesterday, so I can’t say if this is true of George Edmund Street, the architect who restored this church in 1873-4. He was a leading light in the Victorian Gothic Revival style of architecture; the same style that brought us the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge.

It is one of over 180 churches Street had restored, in addition to all his other work. As well as Beachampton, ten more of those churches are in North Bucks. The nearest one to Beachampton is at Addington near Winslow.

G. E. Street also designed new churches in the Gothic Revival style and the nearest one in the NBW’s area is in the next village; Nash. The other two are at New Bradwell and Westcott.

Street passed away in 1881, partly from overwork. He was 57.


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Taking Stock

Village stocks in Dinton church porch  Bucks

The Monday Photo

All I had to do to find these village stocks was to look left after I took last week’s Monday Photo of Dinton’s fine Norman doorway. I didn’t even have to change position to take this photo!

The stocks have only been in the church porch about two and a half years. They were moved from their previous spot by the garden wall of Dinton Hall, at the end of May, 2019.

In 1905 they were by the garden wall (probably their original position) and surrounded by an iron railing fence. In about 1920 they’d been given protection from the weather as well, with a roof supported by a post at each corner. By 2019 there was no sign of the roof or fence.

Village stocks were for public punishment of local offenders. This was mostly as a form of humiliation, sometimes added to by villagers throwing rotten fruit and vegetables.

Offenders were fastened into the stocks by both ankles, but strangely there are only five holes in this set of stocks. They are not the only village stocks in England with five ankle holes, but can anyone tell me why this many, and not an even number of holes?

The stocks were used as a punishment for minor offences, but those iron fixings on one end of Dinton’s stocks are to secure wrists so that end can be used as a whipping post.

Stocks came into general use in 1351, when the Statute of Labourers ruled that every town was to provide and maintain a set of stocks. The last recorded use in England was in 1872!

By the way, we are viewing these stocks from the offender's side, so I hope you've been behaving yourself...

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