Friday, 14 February 2014
Snowdrops at St Giles, Packwood
I went along to St Giles Church, Packwood, at the end of last week in search of Snowdrops. I've had problems with my desktop computer (hopefully now fixed!!) so this is the first chance I've had to do a post. Apologies too to anyone who has been visiting my blog for any length of time as I have written about this church several times in the past.
A church has stood on the site for over 800 years. The original building was probably wooden and replaced by the present stone chancel and nave in the late thirteenth century. The church is dedicated to St Giles, a French patron saint for beggars and the lame. The church is always open as a refuge for displaced people which I think is rather lovely considering so many churches are locked most of the time these days.
One wedding of interest that took place at the church was that between a Lichfield bookseller Michael Johnson and Sara Ford from Packwood - their son was to become the famous literary figure and dictionary author - Samuel Johnson.
Snowdrops are just starting to flower around the churchyard.
The older part of the churchyard is allowed to grow a little "wild" which is great for wildlife. The churchyard is one of the richest sites in the county for wildflowers with over 100 species being recorded some quite rare for Warwickshire. I will visit again in a month or so because it (along with St Patricks in nearby Earlswood) has the most wonderful display of primroses.
Lichens on the stone walls of the church.
The porch was built in the 18th century. Many church porches are large because in the past couples were often married in the porch as the ceremony mentions "carnal sin" and the couple following the service were finally allowed to enter the church itself for a blessing.
It was lovely to see the teasels being left for the birds to enjoy.
This stained glass window shows a fawn - a symbol of St Giles - the fawn was reputed to have provided St Giles with milk when he was a recluse.
Late thirteenth century glass can be seen at the top of this window.
The parish chest is believed to be Norman and could even predate the church. It was hewn from a tree trunk and chests like these were once used to store parish records.
Medieval wall paintings representing the Day of Judgement and dating back to the fourteenth century. These "Doom Paintings" were covered with whitewash during the Protestant Reformation after 1547. They were only discovered in 1927 when funeral hatchments were removed from the wall. Unfortunately the paintings were damaged as plaster was peeled off but they have since been restored. The photos below were taken on a previous visit as for some reason the photos taken last week failed to show so much detai1.
An old sundial on one of the exterior church walls. Scratch dials or Mass Dials were used when a stick was inserted into the centre to use the sun to tell the times to celebrate mass.
Arrow sharpening slits on the church wall from a time when men were expected to practice archery every Sunday.
This is the Tower of Atonement which was added in the late Fifteenth century by Nicholas Brome, Lord of Baddesley Clinton as an act of atonement for murdering a priest around 1483 at Baddesley Clinton for "finding him in his parlour chockings his wife under ye chinne" (Ferrars). He's been mentioned before in this blog - he is actually buried at nearby Baddesley Clinton in an upright position by the church door so people walk over him as they enter the church - another act of atonement for the murder he committed. In Baddesley Clinton House there is actually a "blood stain" on the floor originally said to be from the murder although I seem to remember it has been tested and found to be pig's blood.
Packwood Hall is now privately owned so I couldn't get any closer than this to take a photo but the building dates back to Medieval times. Edith Holden, author of The "Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" written in 1906 mentions visiting the Hall and being shown a lamb by the farmer. She also mentions seeing snowdrops at the hall and in the churchyard. Much of the filming for the ITV series on Edith took place around Packwood.
An interesting tree stump, rosehips and beech leaves.
Sadly no lambs yet but plenty of sheep feeding in a field adjacent to the church. As you can see they spotted me very quickly :)
Reference: "An Historical Guide to St Giles Church, Packwood, Warwickshire"