Monday, 21 September 2009

Rural Church For Sale

The parish church of Long Lawford has come up for sale. I have written about this church before in ‘A Little Known Pilgrimage’. The village of Long Lawford unlike its neighbouring village of Church Lawford did not have a church until 1839 when John Caldecott had a church built as a Chapel of Ease to the parish church of St Botolph, Newbold Upon Avon, and was intended mainly for the use of the servants from Holbrook Grange where John Caldecott resided. As for many centuries people from Long Lawford had walked across the fields to Newbold Upon Avon church to worship. The church is now unfortunately structurally unstable and redundant and the villagers have had the neighbouring hall converted into a church.

St John's Church Long Lawford

If my memory serves me correctly the church was finally closed when the roof was in need of desperate repair and funds could not be found. Unfortunately as the church has been left unused for so long now it has fallen in to further disrepair.
On the estate agents website it is described as a Grade II listed former church premises suitable for redevelopment with outline planning consent. For the current selling price of £220,000 it will be interesting to see what a buyer can do with this unique building.

Monday, 14 September 2009

My Bicycle Ride and St Edith's Church Monks Kirby

I survived my bicycle ride. I managed to master the gears and am quite proud to say I did not have to get off to walk up a hill once. The journey took approximately 45 minutes to an hour each way (on the way back I knew where I was going so it was naturally that little bit faster) I am not sure whether that is a great speed but its half that which it would have taken me to walk according to Google. If I am completely honest I was slightly sore in places for about a day afterwards, nonetheless I enjoyed myself and would do it again. Now to share with you what I saw.

I knew nothing at the Church before my visit and so was naturally surprised on my approach to see such a large church in such a small village. Upon my arrival I was enlightened as to why this was.
Early Days
The first church on this site was built in 917 AD by Ethelfleda the daughter of King Alfred the Great. In those days the village was called Cyricbrig and was recorded as such in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD.

The Arrival of the Monks
After the Norman Conquest, King William gave vast areas of land to one of his knights, Geoffrey de la Guerche, a Breton, who had supported him in the invasion of England. Geoffrey rebuilt the ruined Saxon church and dedicated his new church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Denis the Patron Saint of France. He also endowed it with a Benedictine prior and seven monks from the abbey of St Nicholas at Angers, France. In 1399 the Priory was transferred to the Carthusians of the Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire, and a war with France had caused the dedication of the church to be changed to St Edith, a Warwickshire Saint.

The Reformation
The Carthusian Order having been dissolved in 1538 the priory and its property was given to Thomas Mannyng, Bishop of Ipswich. In December 1546 the rectory and the advowson of the vicarage were granted by Henry VIII to his foundation of Trinity College, Cambridge, in whose possession they have continued.
The Building of the present Church
In 1350 the Black Death swept across Europe and killed half the population of Warwickshire, the Priory fell into ruin and in 1360 the prior and the monks petitioned Pope Innocent VI to grant them an indulgence to use the money collected to rebuild the church, much of which can still be seen today. The lower part of the tower and the porch are the most substantial evidence of the monks rebuilding programme. The monks had some new bells cast for the new tower and incredibly one of them has survived. The present fifth bell was cast at Worcester circa 1390 and so the same sound the monks heard as they called the faithful to worship 600 years ago is still ringing out over Monks Kirby today.
The Porch
This is one of the oldest parts of the church and dates from the rebuilding of 1380. On the west wall there is a Latin inscription which translated states “Ye men and women pray for your souls”.
The Skipwith Chapel
On entering the church if you turn right and precede along the South Aisle you will reach the Skipwith Chapel. On the South wall is the hatchment of the Skipwith Coat of Arms. The Skipwith family lived in the nearby manor of Newbold Revel for over 200 years, until 1862. The state then had a variety of owners and in 1946 it was acquired by the Sisters of Charity of St Paul as a training college for teachers. On the east wall are two small panels carved with Coats or Shields of Arms and in the corner are the remains of a small Piscina. The Chapel now houses a statue of Our Lady and Baby Jesus which stood for many years in the convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Monks Kirky and was presented to the church when the convent was closed on the 2nd of April 1977. It serves as a reminder that the Sisters served this and neighbouring communities for 104 years.
The Chancel
As you face the Altar on your right, in the corner, is a piscina which was once used for washing sacred communion vessels. Next to it is a blocked doorway once used by priests and then a heavily restored triple Sedilia which enabled them to take a short rest during the long services. On the north wall are two Aumbries probably used to hold bread for Mass. High upon the wall is a King Charles II Coat of Arms erected to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

The North Chapel
In the north east corner is an alabaster tomb of Sir William Fielding who died in 1547 and his wife Elizabeth. Both are clasping prayer books and have three rings on each hand. Note the family shield of three lozenges. The other tomb is to his son and heir Basil Fielding. Strangely his death, in 1585 is left blank on the edge of the tomb, but that of his wife in 1580 is recorded. Note the carvings of the children along the side of the tomb.
The Organ
This is contemporary with the Victorian restoration. The organ was built by J. Walker of Brandon, Suffolk in 1868.

The Blocked Doorways and Small Windows

Along the north aisle are three blocked doorways a reminder of the location of the monk’s quarters. The monks would have had there own access to the church and the high doorway was probably from their sleeping area. The lower doors gave access to a cloister area which, although in ruin, existed up to 1840. There are also two small windows high in the Chancels north side which would have given the monk’s a view of the altar.

The Memorials
Along the north wall are memorials to the fallen of World War I and members of the Fielding family. In particular are two white marble monuments of very similar design, one to the 7th Earl of Denbigh, died 1865, and his wife, died 1847; the other is to Lady Augusta Fielding, died 1858; and between them three small tablets to other members of the family.

The Clock
The clock, built by Valentine Hanbury of Northamptonshire in 1804, replaced an earlier clock of 687. The clock had stood in the Ringing Room of the Tower and was replaced in 1961.

The Bells
The first reference to bells in Monks Kirby was in 1552 when six bells were recorded. The current tower possesses a fine ring of eight bells which were rehung in a new steel frame by John Taylor of Loughborough in 1921 and augmented by the addition of two new bells.

The Parish Chest
In here were once kept important documents such as wills, churchwardens’ accounts and priests’ vestments. Notice the number of keyholes that the chest could not be unlocked unless two keyholders were present.

The Stained Glass
Not all the stained glass has survived the year, which is to be expected of a church who such a long and eventful history. Stained glass is not the easiest to photograph but I have included some of my better shots in a slide show below:

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to St Edith, Monks Kirby and would like to write a few words of thank to John Illingworth who wrote ‘A Short Guide to St Edith’s Church’ and whose words I have used to form this post, Thank you.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Taking Inspiration from Catholic Mom of 10

After enjoying my visit to St Andrew's Church (Rugby) on Thursday I was rather disappointed on Friday when I realised many of the other churches in my area were out of reach if you did not have your own transport.

Having pretty much resided myself to spending the day around the house I was working my way down my blog list when I came across Jackie Parkes blog Catholic Mom of 10 Militant and an idea came to me. I could ride, I had often read about Jackie's ventures on her bicycle and so I went about equipping myself out with what I would need for my little adventure.

I no longer owned a bicycle myself so I found out my dad's old bike and checked the tyres they were good and the chain looked OK, so I packed a small backpack with drinks and a snack for when I reached my destination.

I knew exactly where I wanted to go. St Edith's Church in the village of Monks Kirby according to the Heritage Open Days Website it was going to be open from 9 til 5 so I had plenty of time to get there and the weather looked good.

Being resourceful I decided to Google Map where I was going and print it off to take with me. This is when I discovered just how adventurous my little plan was.

Firstly I could tell from my knowledge of the area that if Google was going to have its way I would be cycling through a ford which I knew only the toughest of tractors can get through so that would involve me taking a slight detour through some fields where I knew there was a bridge.

Secondly I noticed the distance and time. It was a 12 mile around trip and walking was estimated to take 2 hours one way. Now fortunately for me riding a bicycle, well is a bit like riding a bicycle, its something you never forget which was a good job because I was struggling to remember when I had last done so.

Not to let it deter me I just thought there is no rush and I can take it at my own pace and off I went a. So there I was a 'sensibly built girl' about to take on a 12 mile bicycle ride to visit a church in the middle of rural England having not ridden a bicycle in a very long time.

Touring some of England’s Heritage

I have about a month free between graduating from university and beginning my new career so having found out about Heritage Open Days I decided to see what was open in my area.

I have a particular fondness for old churches as many of them are hidden and largely forgotten about in our English countryside. This can be such a shame when there are so many hidden beauties stooped in English heritage just waiting to be found.

Out of pour necessity on my tour I decided to stay more urban in my search for English heritage as I do not drive and have to rely on public transport or my two feet and heart beat (i.e. walking) if I want to get anywhere.

Thursdays stop was St Andrew’s Church in Rugby.

The first chapel on this site is believed to have dated 1140 however the parish of Rugby was not created until 1291 at which time it was also dedicated to St Andrew. The present church is mainly Victorian, the Nave and Chancel dating from 1879.

It was designed by William Butterfield and has all the hallmarks of his designs – use of coloured stone, patterned floor tiles and coloured ceiling. It is a unique, in being the only church in the world that has two sets of bells hung for full circle ringing.

West Tower and North Aisle (14th Century)
The tower walls are 3.5ft thick and it is home to one of the two sets of bells. Five bells dated from 1711 and weighing 9.5cwt and rung for Sunday services. The north aisle formed the nave in the original 14th century church.

Clergy Vestry and East Tower (1895)
The spire is 182ft high and houses the second ring of eight bells weighing 24cwt and rung regularly for practice and for special occasions.

The Lady Chapel and Sanctuary (1879)
The Lady Chapel is set aside for private prayer. The east window above the high altar depicts Christ in Glory and the reredos is Alec Miller’s painting adapted from Fra Angelico’s ‘The Transfiguration’.

The Organ
Originally in the church of Noton-by-Galby, Leicestershire and brought to St Andrew’s in 1792. it has seen several changes and additions creating a fine instrument with 48 stops.

I would have very much liked to have taken some more pictures but I am afraid the light on the day was very poor so instead I have managed to find this one from St Andrew's Church Website as an example of the interior.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Day the Squrrel went to Church

This song had me and the children in stitches the first time we heard it I hope everyone finds it just as funny as we did.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Catholic Custom and Our Lady's Birthday

On Our Lady's birthday the Church celebrates the first dawning of redemption with the appearance in the world of the Savior's mother, Mary. The Blessed Virgin occupies a unique place in the history of salvation, and she has the highest mission ever commended to any creature. We rejoice that the Mother of God is our Mother, too. Let us often call upon the Blessed Virgin as "Cause of our joy", one of the most beautiful titles in her litany.

Since September 8 marks the end of summer and beginning of fall, this day has many thanksgiving celebrations and customs attached to it. In the Old Roman Ritual there is a blessing of the summer harvest and fall planting seeds for this day.

The winegrowers in France called this feast "Our Lady of the Grape Harvest". The best grapes are brought to the local church to be blessed and then some bunches are attached to hands of the statue of Mary. A festive meal which includes the new grapes is part of this day.

In the Alps section of Austria this day is "Drive-Down Day" during which the cattle and sheep are led from their summer pastures in the slopes and brought to their winter quarters in the valleys. This was usually a large caravan, with all the finery, decorations, and festivity. In some parts of Austria, milk from this day and all the leftover food are given to the poor in honor of Our Lady’s Nativity.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Heritage Open Days 2009, 11-13 of September

Heritage Open Days celebrates England’s architecture and culture by allowing visitors free access to interesting properties that are either not usually open, or would normally charge an entrance fee. Heritage Open Days also includes tours, events and activities that focus on local architecture and culture.Organised by volunteers - usually property owners or managers - for local people, Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest and most popular voluntary cultural event. Last year the event attracted around 1 million visitors. English Heritage gives central co-ordination and a national voice to the event.

Heritage Open Days provides visitors with a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy these sometimes hidden, often curious and always interesting places in English cities, towns and villages - and completely free of charge.

Civic society members, property owners, estate managers, visitors, conservation officers, company directors, parishioners, tourism managers, education officers - people from all walks of life who care about and take pride in the environment they live in make Heritage Open Days happen. We would like to bring people and places together, encourage you and thousands of others to explore the buildings on your doorstep and to become an active member of the community.

Follies, contemporary buildings, churches, factories, tunnels, temples, offices, private homes, industrial sites, castles, windmills, town halls - guided walks, concerts, re-enactment, trails, role-plays, children’s activities - the variety of places and ways to discover them are endless.
Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 as England’s contribution to European Heritage Days, in which 49 countries now participate.
You can view and print out events in your area by following the link below.

Event Directory