Thursday, 3 September 2015
Visit to an Interesting Church with Saxon Carved Font and Medieval Wall Paintings
Thanks to someone posting photos on a Social Media site recently I discovered a church fairly close to home with some very interesting features. I'd never thought of visiting this church before - another illustration that we often miss what is "on our doorstep".
The village of Curdworth was the first recorded Anglo-Saxon settlement in the Midlands of the first King of the Mercians, Creoda, in 583 AD.
Curdworth or Credeworde means "Creoda's Clearing" and is believed to be the located at the centre of England. Although I think the village of Meriden not far away makes a similar claim! (One of these days when I am visiting the excellent farm shop in Meriden I'll take my camera and get some photos and perhaps visit their church if its open).
A church has probably existed on this site since Saxon times but the present Norman Building dates back to 1165 and celebrates its 850th birthday this year.
In the 15th century the church was lengthened and a Tower was added in 1460 by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. At the time it was intended to add a spire but this never happened. The church which is a Grade II Listed Building is made of Red Sandstone.
The 16th century porch was rebuilt in 1800.
The unusual square font with carvings dates back to Saxon times and is one of the original features of the church. It was buried under the Nave floor, perhaps during the Reformation and was re-discovered in 1895 when the church was refurbished. The top of the font has been cut down and some of the figures have heads missing.
Edit Have recently discovered that the font is actually Romanesque - 12th century and not Saxon.
These could be Evangelists holding books.
This aircraft propeller-shaped memorial commemorates a young Australian airman who died at nearby Castle Bromwich Aerodrome (now a housing estate) in the First World War.
The churchyard contains around a dozen military graves (mainly airmen)from both World Wars.
St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, who lived in the 4th Century and to whom the church was dedicated when it was built in the 12th century.
Parishioners raised money for this beautiful Millennium Window - one of the loveliest stained glass windows I have seen. It was dull and cloudy outside so it must look even more stunning on a sunny day.
At this point a couple of parishioners came into the church and very helpfully pointed out quite a few interesting features. Apparently someone has done some research into the window in the photo below and the spider's web motif in the bottom right hand corner in the second picture. (You may have to click on the photo to enlarge it to see the web!)>
Doing some research when I got home the only stained glass artist I can find who used a spider's web motif was Geoffrey Webb. I might return to the church in a few weeks when they have a Flower Festival and see if I can find out some more information.
The stone in the photo below came to light when some repairs were carried out on an old bridge at Water Orton - it is apparently part of the figure of an Angel which had been badly damaged (the head is missing) and was brought back to the Church by the Reverend Lancelot Mitchell who was Rector at Curdworth between 1905 -1937.
The wall paintings which surround the 12th century windows date from Medieval times and were restored in 1972.
This early 13th century dug-out chest is 10 feet in length and supposedly the longest known. It was carved out of a single tree trunk.
Norman Chancel Arch with the classic Chevron design.
This trefoil "window" opening is 15th century.
You probably won't be able to make out the words in this flagstone floor but the stone commemorates Sarah, daughter of Cornelius and Anne Ford who lived nearby at Dunton Hall in the 17th century, who was the mother of the famous Samuel Johnson. (Some of you may recall previous posts I wrote on Lichfield and St Giles, Packwood with Johnson connections - a small world!!).
There is another 12th century font in the church porch.
Outside the church - lichens making pretty patterns on the brickwork.
An unknown species of Fungi.
I'm currently reading a fascinating book by Matthew Champion called "Medieval Graffiti - The Lost Voices of England's Churches" which gives details of the many types of marks, graffiti and carvings (Mason's and Merchant's marks, compasses, ships, crosses, witch marks, knights and dragons etc) left in Medieval churches which tell a story of the many people who used the church at that time. So I couldn't resist looking for some graffiti of my own!
There was plenty round this door with examples from
the 19th century and the
Sadly, I managed to miss the best of all - Mason's marks of an arrowhead by two of the small round-headed windows in the chancel although I suspect I may have needed a torch and binoculars to spot them!
The playing fields next to the church were the scene of the first skirmish of the English Civil War at the Battle of Curdworth Bridge. When I did some research into the church on the internet I discovered that there is allegedly royalist treasure buried in the churchyard which is protected by a headless ghost! - apparently there are also unmarked graves of Royalist and Parliamentarian soldiers buried here too.
Edit - Thanks to David (see comment below) for pointing out that in actual fact the Siege of Hull and Royalist attempt at capturing the City took place a few weeks before the skirmish of Curdworth Bridge.