Tag: parish church

St Mary Magdalene Twyning.

With Winter on the go I have not been making too many excursions lately, I also have the added complication of back problems and a camera that seems to be on its last legs. However, this morning I departed on my way to a church called St Mary Magdalene near a small village called Twyning, I had originally planned to do this trip last week, but the weather had defeated me. Come to think of it, it was not such great weather today either. As the crow flies the church is roughly 2,75 km away, but on foot is is more like 4.5 km, Google Earth Co-ordinates are: 52° 1.386’N, 2° 9.384’W. There are six casualties listed as being buried here

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My route took right at the roundabout, over St John’s Bridge in Tewkesbury, towards the Mythe Bridge; however, instead of turning left towards the bridge I carried on and followed the road. It is a killer of a hill!

After much huffing and puffing I made it to the top and followed the road all the way, pausing to admire this wonderful building which reminds me of a Victorian water tower. It is very out of place but what a beaut it is.

It appears as if people do live in it, but there is no indication of its history. A bit further on I came to “The Crows”. I was tempted to throw a stone at at. and not too far from here was my turning towards “Church End” where my destination was waiting. A short 1/4 mile later and I was at the church of St Mary Magdalene.

Like so many parish churches in the UK it is steeped in history and there has probably been a church on this site since 1100 although I suspect that portions of the building that I saw today may date from the 1800’s. Certainly there are graves from the 1600’s and 1700’s in the churchyard, and an effigy in the church dates from the 1500’s. The graveyard is quite a large one, and has some really beautiful headstones, although the legibility of some is poor, The headstone above dates from the 1760’s as does the stone below. The headstones are beautiful, it was a really pleasant surprise to see so many from the 1700’s all in one place.

This beaut is a relatively new stone, dating from 1937, and it is the first that I have ever seen like this, whether there is any significance to the design I do not know, but looking at it now it reminds me of a record holder. The headstone below dates from 1772.

Once I had found my 6 CWGC graves I ambled over to the church. The service had just ended and I really wanted to check if there were any war memorials inside the church. I was pleasantly surprised by the welcome I received even though I was intruding on a coffee morning. The next service was due to start at 11 am, so I had very little time to photograph. The war memorial to the men from the parish is a modest one, but I could not help thinking that when they erected the original they did not expect that a second plaque would need to be added over 25 years later. It is a pretty church, with simple lines and a tranquil beauty about it. The pulpit is spectacular, although I did struggle to find a clear space to photograph it from. There is also a wonderful Victorian organ that must really be fantastic to hear in this small space. The biggest surprise was the wonderful effigy tomb of Sybil and Anne Clare who both died on 13 February 1575 “after the birth of the baby” The inscription plaque has been transcribed, and makes for interesting reading. And of course the stained glass is magnificent And then it was time to leave as the preparations for the next service were well advanced.

The challenge for parish churches like this is: how to attract and grow a congregation, and part of it is to make your church welcoming, and to embrace technology. The days of dark formal churches has ended, and you either adapt or die. This church has adapted.

A last look at some of those old headstones and I was on my way, and an hours walk home.

All in all it was a good morning, the churchyard exceeded my expectations, and it was nice to see inside the church too. Based on what little I do know, I do expect that the ground I was walking on had many more layers of bodies buried beneath it than visible headstones above it,

A church like this has seen so much history, and so has the small village around it. We cannot begin to fathom what life was like in the 1600’s in this area.

I feel sorry for the horses that may have had to climb that hill, although it is probable that there was a fair amount of barge traffic. The river is not too far from the village, but today I could not hop a boat to take me to it. That concluded my expedition for the day. I do however have to conclude that my camera is on its last legs, and so is one set of batteries. At some point I need to replace them both. I look forward to a new seasons expeditions, but for today I was well chuffed.

DRW © 2016-2018. Created 21/02/2015

Updated: 22/06/2018 — 12:34

Newnham and Rotherwick churchyards

Following on with my quest to complete as many of the CWGC graves in churchyards close by, I decided to head to Hook, and from there to visit the churchyards of Newnham St Nicholas as well as Rotherwick Parish Church.
Hook is the next stop from Basingstoke on the line to London Waterloo and I was there by 10H30. I had some sort of plan in mind, and it really depended on my energy levels. The first part of my plan included photographing the Hook War Memorial.
  
And from there starting the long walk to my destination which was roughly 2,3 km away. I am not too keen on walking these country lanes because they are narrow and often have blind bends. There is no real pavement either so it can be risky, but the job has to be done.
 
Eventually I came to the junction that I needed and turned left to the church. It was a very pretty spot, and with Spring not too far away and a luke warm sun it really made for a nice day.  There are 4 CWGC graves in Newnham St Nicholas churchyard, of which two are private memorials. 
 
The lychgate is magnificent (as these lychgates tend to be), and is dated 1910. The church itself is very much older.
 
Like so many of the churches I have come across in my meanderings it is really difficult to date its origin because of all the changes that were made during the history of the church, at any rate it seems to show up in history round about 1130. The chancel arch has been dated to about 1135, with major restoration being completed in 1848. A more complete history of the church may be found at its website.
 
And like so many of these small parish churches it is not easy to get an image of the complete building, but there is at least one spot where you can make a good attempt.
 
My first grave was an easy one, it was amongst the first graves in the churchyard by the gate. And the churchyard was quite a nice one too, well shaded, lots of very old graves, and the occasional gem that makes you gasp. There were a number of cast iron markers in the one area, and I had seen quite a few of these in Southampton, but not too many in Basingstoke, I had also not seen this style of cast iron marker before either. They were really nice, but sadly a definite target for scrap metal thieves.
 
In the one corner I found two of the other graves I was looking for, as well as a really pretty collection of moss encrusted graves. These seemed to be of previous ministers of the church, and possibly a few important locals. 
I still had one more private memorial to find and there was no description of what it looked like. I explored further, working my way around the church.

 

My soldier was a World War 2 casualty and the area was now looking much more promising, although the graves immediately next to the church all dated to the 1800’s.

 

I started at the top and started checking each grave, hoping that I was not looking at a toppled headstone or an illegible inscription. Then I hit paydirt and I was able to tick him off the list too. The rent was paid, now I could explore. I headed back to the rear of the church where the entrance was (the entrance does not face the lychgate), and found that the church was open. Inside I met the vicar, and he told me a bit about the church and the various war memorials in the church (of which there were 4). It is not a very ornate building though, it’s much smaller than it looks from the outside, but has a humble feel about it, and a friendly atmosphere. 

Interestingly enough the oldest identifiable grave in the churchyard is that of Mary, daughter of Peter Justice, who died 14 August 1728, aged four months.

 

The vicar also showed me a safer route to Rotherwick which clinched my decision to head there next. All in all though this was a pleasant visit, and getting into the church was a bonus, because some of these churches have wonderful wall monuments in them, as well as war memorials to the local parishioners which seldom see the light.

 Rotherwick Parish Church

  
My next destination was roughly 2,8 km away and a short detour would take me through Tylney Park Golf Club and past Tylney Hall Hotel. The hotel is quite an interesting one, and I was hoping to get a chance to have a good look at it. Unfortunately as I arrived at the hotel my phone range and I had to speak to a personnel agent so ended up taking pics on the fly, and missing out on a lot of what there was to explore.
 
What is interesting is that in 1919 both the Hall and much of the original estate was acquired by Major Cayzer, later created Lord Rotherwick, owner of Clan Line Steamers Ltd, and the Hall became the headquarters for the shipping line. 
 
A previous owner had been Sir Lionel Philips, but whether this is the famous Baronet from Johannesburg history I cannot say. 
 
Irrespective though, from what I saw it was magnificent, I just wish I had been able to see more of it. Unfortunately though, my distraction did take me away from the buildings and I was not in the mood to turn back. Besides, I still had some graves to find. And that was still a long walk away.
    
Finally I arrived at Rotherwick, and the church was easy to find. It is not a big church, but again it is an old one, or  should I rather say, there has been a church at this spot for a long time.  More information about the church may be found at it’s website
 
I had two CWGC graves to find, and I started my round of the church.
  
There was not a lot of space in front of the church, the major part of the churchyard was behind the church and that was where my two graves were. 
  
The churchyard was evidently still being used, and it was quite a large space, slightly separated from the original churchyard.  Sadly though, at some point a lot of the old headstones had been uplifted and used as a wall at the bottom of the church. It was nicely done though, not a haphazard leaning of headstones as I had seen in so many other places.
 
Getting a pic of the church was difficult because of the sun, and because there was no real spot far away enough to fit it all in. I would have to go outside the churchyard to do that.
 
 
 
And then it was time to head off back to the station. I had two possible routes I could take. The first was to retrace my steps, and the other was to carry on with the road where the church was until I found Hook Road and turn into that one. It would take me to the one side of Hook and close to the Hook Village Garden and Cemetery.  It was also the difference between a 5 km and a 3.7 km walk. I chose the the latter. (Did I mention I discovered the ruler function on Google Earth? )

 

The walk was uninteresting, dodging from side to side of the road to avoid blind bends and impassable pavements. I was starting to tire too, and the sun was starting to hide behind clouds that were forming. I was ready to give up for the day. I had one more church to see, and it proved to be one of those modern featureless churches, with the cemetery next to it.

 
The cemetery was a modern one, but there was nothing really to see, so I took a quick walk around and then headed off to the station.

 

It had been a productive morning. Two more sets of graves had been added to the record, and 220 images had been taken. I had seen some really nice headstones, as well as a really pretty church. I enjoy these rural settings because every now and then I see something that literally takes my breath away. Maybe it is the countryside, or the history all around me, or just maybe I feel an affinity with here, it is the type of place I have had in my mind since I was a child, and the sort of places I read about in books, and what I was seeing did not disappoint.

© DRW 2015-2018. Created 18/02/2015, images migrated 26/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 09:31

Random Churchyards: St Andrew Laverstock

A misheard name, and an informed resident. Voila! a new graveyard to visit. This one was in an area I had not explored before, so with the weather becoming increasingly more pleasant I dashed off to take a look around St Andrews in Laverstock.

 Like so many of these parish churches I have seen this one is beautiful, and it really fitted in with the warmish spring day we were having. I was very impressed by the tree on the right, it had a huge flat canopy, just a bit taller than I was and it was really pretty. I have no idea what sort of tree it is though, it is the first I have seen like this.
 

I chose to approach the graveyard from the right, (as I tend to do). and almost immediately came across an angel. Usually these are quite rare in a churchyard like this, but I am not complaining. This one is a beaut.

 

Of course angels are not the only highlight of a cemetery, although they do make for great images. Very close to this was a fenced off grave, the cross of which was inscribed “Make her to be numbered with thy Saints”, unfortunately a lot of the inscription on the grave is not legible due to vegetation, but it seems that this was the wife of an important clergy member.

Surprisingly there are five CWGC headstones in the graveyard, and unusually for me I managed to get them all! 

 

The graveyard isn’t very big and it is in regular use, but the newer headstones do seem to be a bit too regular in size and shape for my liking, although there are the odd older stones scattered amongst the newer.  

On the other side of the graveyard are the remains of the original church that stood at this site, it had been erected somewhere between 1080 and 1200. However, by the 1850’s the church was described as being “damp and ruinous” and it was demolished in 1857 and the current building was erected in its stead.
  
The current church still has a number of artefacts from this building although I was unable to go into it because a service was being held at the time. Interestingly enough, the outline of the old church and one of its walls still exists, and within the outline are a number of graves. 
  
while outside the church there were a number of graves too, although at the time the churchyard was probably much larger, but it is possible that the buildings next to the fence are now partly built on parts of the original churchyard. 
  
 
The church sports a pair of bells in its belfry and surprisingly these were tolling away, calling the faithful to get out of bed and get themselves across to church. Most of the parishioners that I saw were elderly, and I expect many had attended here since they were born.  Many of these parish churches see the a complete lifespan of an individual, and are really fixtures in their communities. This particular one has been around for over 150 years, and looks set to be around for another 150.
 
 
It was almost time for me to head off home, and I took a quick circuit around again, grabbing any other graves of interest. 
 
 
And then I was off home. Another churchyard under my belt. And a very pretty one it was too.  This used to be farming area, and judging by street names possibly there was a mill and a fishery close by, but the road I walked along to get here was called Church Lane, and I can see where that comes from.
 
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Updated: 30/12/2017 — 19:34
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