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Friday, 20 January 2017

Grantchester St Mary and St Andrew

Grantchester was the village of WW1 war poet Rupert Brooke.

It is also the focus of the TV series "Grantchester" starring James Norton. It is just a waterside walk along the Cam from Cambridge. It is famous for its Orchard Tea Rooms which have been there since 1897. Mind the wasps in autumn!

Grantchester is also the home of Jeffery and Mary Archer. There are more Nobel prize winners living here than anywhere else on Earth. Byron's Pool is also in Grantchester. As a village, it is nothing special. Yes there are thatched cottages, but it is really more famous for its past and present inhabitants.
This church dates from the 14th century although the south aisle dates from the 19th century. The font is believed to be Norman.  The aisle windows are Victorian.

When we visited the church was unlocked.


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Mildenhall, St Mary, Suffolk

Mildenhall is probably best known for its USAF airbase, although it is actually a fine Suffolk town with a fine church and some lovely old buildings. It should not be dismissed.

The church is famous for its nave roof. Back in the 1600s people were paid to destroy the roof.  The supporters of Cromwell have a lot to answer for at that time! There was later restoration of the angels. Back in the 1600s there was vandalism on a truly massive scale in many churches.  I hope we learn from history: even if not our history we should always respect work done long ago by others, even if not our faith. 
Nave roof with angels.
A medieval charnel house stands beside the south side. Corpses were buried for 30 years, then dug up and placed in a vault to make room for more corpses in the small churchyard. After the Reformation this ceased in the main.
In the largely flat countryside, the church can be seen from miles around. According to Simon Knott it is the largest church in Suffolk.

When we were there, there was an exhibition to celebrate the queen's 90th birthday.
Exhibition about the Queen
See . This is the Simon Knott page. He writes the very best on East Anglian churches. If you are interested, I highly recommend his pages.
We also visited the small, free, museum in Mildenhall. This is worth a visit but as it is run by volunteers check opening days and times.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Merton, St Peter, Norfolk

Merton is a small village just south of Watton. The church is just within the park grounds and sadly was locked when we visited on a July Saturday.

Most of the church dates from Norman times. The tower dates from the 14th century although the lower part of the (round) tower is pre-Conquest i.e. before 1066AD. This is a typical Norfolk church with a round tower. Its isolated position is probably why it was locked. The church stands on a ridge overlooking the main house in the grounds and its lake. Walking to the "other" side of the church and seeing the lake in the distance was quite a surprise. The de Gray family own the park. There is a 6 sided font.

We ate at Hingham which is about 10 miles away at the Lincoln Tea Shoppe. We have eaten here before and never been disappointed.
I am sure not being able to go inside the church we missed a lot.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

St Peter's, Cambridge

St Peter's is a delightful but redundant church located next door and to the north of the Folk Museum. It is located across an old Roman Road from nearby St Giles Church. The single celled church may have Anglo-Saxon origins although the church on the site only shows evidence from Norman times. 
The doorway and font date from the 1200s. The. tower dates from the 1300s. The church is now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust.
See's_Church,_Cambridge .

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Burwell St Mary's, Cambridgeshire

This is our "local" church. It is a fine one, liked by Pevsner.
Approach from the Guildhall

North side of church
Church from the north
Although there was a much earlier church on this site dating from Norman times (still part visible in the lower tower), most of the church today dates from the 1400s. The architect (Reginald Ely) was the same one who worked on Kings College Chapel in Cambridge. Tradition says he practiced on Kings College Chapel. The current building is a large, light and airy church in the perpendicular style. There was an Anglo-Saxon anchorage on the site.
Church clock (north face)
There is supposed to be a tunnel from the church to the house across the road which was used as a staging post for the Knights Templar. This is blocked off.

The building is made of clunch and is very light giving a feeling of great space.

There is a wooden roof with carvings of animals, some which the carvers would never have seen!
Animals in roof carvings
On the north wall is a painting of St Christopher, although before the reformation the church would have been highly decorated.

Until the 1500s the church was under the patronage of Ramsey Manor. There is a brass plaque in the chancel to commemorate this.

There are several monuments and wall decorations to the Cotton family who were benefactors centuries back.

There was restoration work carried out in the mid-1800s.

There are some fine stained glass windows with the latest 1992 in memory of the Mitchum family.

The font has been moved and a new kitchen, meeting room and toilets built. The "feel" of this place has been maintained.
Font with Cotton memorial in background
There is a nice toy corner in the south aisle.
Toy Corner
There is a large churchyard, which was extended in the 1850s. The Guildhall to the west of the church is the church hall and is used as a Montessori School.
There are two large horse chestnut trees in the churchyard which were planted to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. I'm not sure when they were planted. Generations of children have played with the conkers from them.
Horse chestnuts
The churchyard also is home to the "flaming heart" grave under which are buried 78 people who were tragically burnt in a barn fire. The barn was showing a puppet show at the time in the 1700s.

The tower holds a fine set of 8 bells. For a video of these bells ringing and the church see .

Just across the main road was St Andrew's church although this is long gone.

Today, St Mary's is a busy, active church.

See .

Burwell is a busy village with over 6000 people. It has a fine museum and restored windmill. Our bungalow overlooks these. The view below was from our front garden.
Windmill and museum

Thursday, 28 January 2016

East Bergholt, St Mary's, Suffolk

Will Lott's cottage at Flatford Mill
We visited Flatford Mill (National Trust) and visited East Bergholt church on our way back.

East Bergholt Church
Bell Cage adjacent to church
This must be pretty unique having its bells at ground level in a bell cage separate from the main church. There is no tower attached to the main church building. One was never built. Apparently they ran out of money in the 1500s after Cardinal Wolsey's fall from grace.  The bell cage is "temporary", although after nearly 500 years I doubt they will move the bells soon. They were moved in the 1600s because of noise complaints (according to Wikipedia).
Bells in the Bell Cage
The church was open when we went and seemed active with what looked like a lunchtime group meeting in a new(ish) room at the back of the nave. Most of the church dates from just before the Reformation.
Nave looking towards altar
See .
See .
As always, there is MUCH more detail and a lot more photos on the second link shown.

We ate lunch at the nearby King's Head. Food was good, not expensive and service fast. My wife had a pulled pork sandwich and I had crayfish.
Lunch at the King's Head

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Hawkedon St Mary Church, Suffolk

Hawkedon, is not far from Denston, so it is worth combining visits.  Hawkedon Church is much smaller than Denston.

The village of Hawkedon consists (these days) of widely scattered cottages and farms. At one time maybe there was more of a centralised village? The tower is 14th century. When we visited Hawkedon, the grass outside the church was very squelchy making access to the church somewhat difficult. We visited on a Sunday (early afternoon) but I have no idea if the church is normally open.

Hawkedon is famous for its bench ends and its font.

The square font is probably Norman, although many of the support pillars are later replacements.

There is a gallery which was added in the 20th century from which good views of the interior may be obtained.

The bench ends may pre-date the the Reformation, but this is questioned.

Little remains of the old rood screen, although part of the sequence of images can be seen in the dado.

The east window contains medieval glass fragments.

On the south wall of the nave is a plaque that was changed from Charles II to George II by changing a C to a G. There are other hatchments in the nave.

See for a lot more detail.  As always, Simon's pages are filled with detail and photos.

As we were quite close to home, we did not eat out.