"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 30 August 2010

Berkswell - Art, Crypts, Mice and Bears

During the course of the bank holiday weekend we paid a visit to the pretty Warwickshire village of Berkswell partly to attend an Art Exhibition held by Trevor and Andrew Boult who paint rather good wildlife and Warwickshire countryside pictures. The exhibition is held yearly and there were more paintings than usual this year. I particularly like the paintings of the Stratford Canal near Lapworth and the snow scenes. Far too expensive to buy an original but I do buy the occasional print.

My other reason for wanting to visit was to have a look round the twelfth century Norman Church built upon the site of an earlier Saxon church which features in Simon Jenkins' book of "England's Thousand Best Churches".

Medieval Preaching Cross in the Churchyard

St John Baptist Berkswell built in the 12th Century

The two storey gabled and half timbered porch was added in the 16th century. The room above the porch has been used as the priest's room, village school, parish council house and today as the vestry.

The present tower was built in the 15th century but it replaced an earlier one because one of the present bells dates from the mid 14th century.

The Chancel

Most of the wood in the church was carved last century by a famous woodcarver, Robert Thompson whose mark is a mouse. At least 9 carved wooden mice can be found within the church.

The crypt was very impressive and much bigger than I expected. Both parts were built in the twelfth century and there was probably an earlier crypt that was used as a shrine.

The low ledge running around the wall was used by elderly and infirm to rest and led to the expression "the weakest go to the wall" according to the church guide.

The western octagonal crypt

A few photos of stained glass within the Church

War Memorial within the churchyard

The Well House - once the rectory. Maud Watson (first woman lawn tennis champion at Wimbledon) was the daughter of the rector and lived here.

Just outside the churchyard is an ancient well. Here monks who brought their faith from nearby Lichfield would have baptised converts.

Village Stocks

The Bear and Ragged Staff Inn dates from the 16th century

Inspired by "Quacks of Life" blog (see link on the right) I have been experimenting with black and white and sepia photos. Although I do prefer colour photos I think the black/white and sepia style really suits old buildings.

I will certainly revisit Berkswell and I gather from the local birding grapevine that there is a really good location nearby for spotted flycatchers - another good reason to visit next year!

I'll post a garden and moth update in a couple of days - I think the amount of moths caught in the trap this weekend is the highest yet this year. Underwings, especially yellow, are dominating and there are also an awful lot of worn moths. Am slowly wading my way through identifications -its going to take a long time!


Pete said...

never been to Berkswell! So you're one up on me! and I approve of the black & white!

Ragged Robin said...

Its well worth a visit if you are in the area - the crypt is very impressive. Have just checked which of the churches I have visited recently are in the Jenkins' book - the grand total of 2!!! I don't think I will be catching you up any time soon :D