Monday, 25 April 2016

Wilburton, Cambridgeshire

St Peter is utterly charming from the setting to its welcoming open status. Inside there are bits and bobs such as the impressive brass to Richard Bole [and two other less than impressive brasses], some good panelling, a nice rood screen, a modern sculpture, Ecce Homo, commemorating the Pell family and a, what can only be called garish, striking east window. I'm sure this is a marmite feature but I liked it. Oh and a wallpainting as well.

Even though when I arrived a pre-Mass meeting was being held the lovely lady vicar more than welcomed me to look around; all in all a thoroughly enjoyable visit.

ST PETER. Of a previous Norman church two fragments of shafts with capitals are kept in the S porch. The tower and the chancel arch seem to be late C13. All the rest is Perp, except for the transept which was added in 1868. A generously spacious nave of four bays, with the windows set in blank arcading. The wall shafts of this are slim and lozenge-shaped. Perp also the good-original nave ceiling, the upper parts of the smallish W tower, the two-storeyed N porch, the low SE vestry and the chancel. The chancel has a five-light E window and three-light side windows. Inside there are niches to the l. and r. of the E window and again tall blank arcades embracing the N and S windows. - ROOD SCREEN. Perp with single-light divisions. They have cusped arches and panel tracery above. - COMMUNION RAIL. With twisted balusters, probably c. 1700. - BENCHES. Two simple C15-C16 benches in the chancel. - PANELLING. Elizabethan or Jacobean, from Stretham church, put up along part of the W wall. - PAINTING. Original wall painting of two bishops, and another more defaced representation on the nave N wall. - PLATE. Chalice and Cover of 1569; flagon of 1714; Paten of 1724. - BRASSES. Richard Bole, Archdeacon of Ely d. 1477, 4 ft figure with architectural surround (ogee gable). - John Hyll d. 1506, wife and children, 18 in. figures. - Will. Byron d. 1516, wife and children; the figures c. 21 in. - MONUMENT. Three panels of a tomb-chest with quatrefoil decoration (chancel, N wall).

Richard Bole d 1477, Archdeacon of Ely (1)

E window (2)

SS Blaise & Ledger (1)

Ecce Homo David Hughes 2001 (2)

WILBURTON. Its life was going on far back in the mists of time, and sometime in the Bronze Age men tipped into the fen of the Old Ouse near Wilburton a great collection of swords, spears, and axes. We may hope they had no more use for them. Three thousand years later this strange rubbish heap was found and some of its treasures are now in our museums. The church, with a tiny spire on its tower, is young compared with all this, 500 years old and much restored, but we come into it by a porch with something of a Norman arch left in its wall, and Norman stones in its roof supporting an upper room. There are lofty arcades and great nave windows, and the east window has a carved niche on each side. In the peace memorial window are the two warrior archangels with their dragons, and another window has St  Etheldreda with a model of Ely Cathedral. The twisted altar rails are Jacobean. The old wall paintings are fading away.

On the last pilgrimage to Etheldreda’s shrine at Ely the rector here, Thomas Alcock, entertained Henry the Seventh and his young Prince Hal at the rectory, and the three cocks from the Alcock shield appear in the fine old roof, with six more over the opening of the rich medieval chancel screen, which has dragons in the tracery, rude faces in the spandrels, and a new vaulted canopy. Thomas Alcock’s predecessor, Richard Bole, is on a fine brass in rich robes, under a pinnacled canopy, and another brass has on it John Hyll of 1506 with his two daughters. William Byrd of 1514 has his family of nine with him on another brass, and inscriptions tell of the Markwell family, who made a record in the belfry, each ringing the six bells for 50 years.

A hero of the Great War, Albert Pell, has a monument in medieval style, taking the shape of a little tomb under an arch. He lived at the big house designed by Pugin in the park, where also stands the red gabled manor house built for a London alderman in the last years of Queen Elizabeth. It was long neglected, but has been restored and is a charming home again; on the way to it we pass a venerable oak six yards round the trunk.

Haddenham, Cambridgeshire

On the face of it Holy Trinity is a Victorian build but according to Pevsner it is "in fact genuine and only fiercely restored" which is borne out by the S porch windows and what appear to be original, re-used, rose windows in the tower.

Mass was ongoing when I visited so I didn't get inside but was compensated with some great headstones instead; I think it is normally locked with keyholders listed.

HOLY TRINITY. The church looks large and Victorian, but in fact is genuine and only fiercely restored (R. R. Rowe, 1876 etc.). Building went on chiefly in the later C13 and the earlier C14. It seems to have begun at the chancel end (E window by Rowe). Lancet windows on the N and S sides. One two-light window inserted on the S side c. 1300. A little later the transepts, aisles, with arcades, S porch and W tower. The tower was entirely rebuilt by Rowe. But it recalls what must have been interesting work of its date: W doorway with finely moulded surround, W window with reticulated tracery and a surround of one order of ball-flower and one order of dog-tooth, then the next stage with one circular window on each side, also surrounded by ball-flower, then the bell-stage with two single lancets on each side, cusped and not shafted. The top-parts and the slim lead spire were added in the C15. Tower arch towards the nave on triple shafts with moulded capitals. Early C14 also the (removed and re-erected) S porch with doorway on triple-shafts and ogee-headed side openings (altered inside), and the nave arcades with octagonal piers and double-chamfered arches. The piers are continued above the C11 moulded capitals in small broaches dying into the arches. The arches into the transepts are almost round and seem later. The transepts themselves are specially drastically restored; but the S transept E window (two-light and a spherical triangle above) may well be earlier than arcade and W tower. Clerestory and chancel arch remodelled in the C15. - FONT. Octagonal, Perp, four griffins seated against the stem, demi-figures of angels and rosettes on the bowl. - ROOD SCREEN. With single-light divisions. Plain arches and panel tracery above. - MONUMENTS. Low C14 recess in the chancel N wall. - Parts of the canopies of the lost brass to William Noyon d. 1405. - Brass to John Godfrey d. 1I454 and wife; 21 in. figures.

S porch window (1)

 Headstone (3)

Gargoyle (2)

 HADDENHAM. Here where Holy Trinity's fine tower marks the highest and most southern village in the Isle of Ely, Ovin the Saxon founded a church in 673, the same year when Queen Etheldreda, to whom he was steward, founded Ely Cathedral. When his queen no longer needed him, Ovin turned to St Chad’s monastery at Lichfield, and Haddenham was left with his cross inscribed “Give, O God, to Ovin Thy light and rest.” For centuries it remained here, the goal of pilgrims, but now, battered and worn, it has found sanctuary at Ely, and there we have seen the old steward’s cross in his queen’s cathedral.

Ovin made Haddenham holy ground, and Hereward the Wake took refuge close by, where Aldreth’s cottages cluster near a windmill. Here came the Conqueror against him, to build the strategic Causeway which carried the Norman soldiers to the conquest of the Isle after a three-year struggle, a half-mythical story told in Kingsley’s Hereward the Wake.

Ovin’s church fell down and the medieval church which took its place at the end of the 13th century has been largely made new, the massive tower rebuilt stone by stone, with its row of little arches supporting the flower-carved parapet, its three rose windows in circles of trailing ballflowers, and a new bishop keeping watch on each side of the grand west doorway where a squirrel nibbles a nut and birds peck among the leafy capitals.

It seems strange to find clear glass without leads lighting the long church, where a medieval kingpost roof covers the nave and a 15th century arch opens into a chancel 200 years older. It has a windowsill sedilia, and a dainty peephole gives a view of the altar from the vestry. The 15th century chancel screen was patched and brought back after spending a generation in a builder’s yard, and the plain font bowl in the south porch was dug up from the churchyard. The fine font used today was made 500 years ago, with angels and Tudor roses round the bowl and caricatures of lions round the base. Two griffins support the carved arches of an Elizabethan altar table in the lady chapel, and a brass of 1454 shows John Godfrey in a little cap and a belted gown, still praying for himself and his wife, whose portrait has disappeared.