"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

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A Visit to the Cotswolds - Part 2 : Stow-in-the-Wold and the Church of St Edward

After making a detour to see the Four Shires Stone we drove back to Moreton-in-Marsh and then onto Stow-in-the-Wold which is only a few miles away. It is the highest of the Cotswold towns located on Stow Hill at a height of 800 feet. At one time up to 20,000 sheep were sold at a time at sheep fairs held in the town. During the Battle of Stow in 1646 fighting continued into the town square and a local tale tells that blood flowed down Digbeth Street. William Smith, the "Father of English Geology" (born in 1769) learned land surveying at Stow-on-the-Wold.

It was even busier here than at Morton-in-Marsh but somehow we managed to again grab what was probably the one and only parking spot.

The square complete with cars and people!

The stocks are very old (sorry about the car and traffic cone).

The fountain was presented to the residents of Stow by Piers Thorsby Esquire in 1896.

I have been keen to visit Stow for some time since seeing a picture of the north door of the church on Twitter.

The church of St Edward

and here is the door

North Door framed by yews and said to have inspired JRR Tolkien especially in relation to the Gates of Moria.

Timothy insisted on having his photo taken at this point!

I am pretty sure the tombs in the photos below are examples of Bale tombs. These are found in the Cotswolds and date from the time when wealthy individuals had grown rich from the wool trade. The bale tomb has a ribbed semi-circular shape on top of the chest tomb. This may represent a a bale of wool or perhaps represent the rippled sheet of fabric (the pall) which covered the semi-circular metal frame (or hearse) erected over the body during medieval funeral services.

The church, a Grade 1 listed building, dates back to the 11th century (with additions from the 12th to 15th centuries) and stands on the site of an original wooden Saxon church. In 1645 during the Civil War 1500 of Sir Jacob Astley's troops were imprisoned in the church.

Although there were a few information boards and sheets in the church, I couldn't find a guide book, so I only have a small amount of information on the interior.

16th century font

Stained Glass

The War Memorial contains names of 45 men who died in World War One and 14 names were added after the Second World War

The inscription reads "To the sacred memory of the most illustrious leader "Hastings Keyt" Son of John Keyt Esquire of Ebrington in the County of Gloucestershire. Officer of the King's Worcestershire forces who fell in the battle near Stow 21st March, 1645."

Medieval corbels which were retained when the roof was rebuilt in the 19th century.

I could have spent a fortune in this book shop.

There is a plaque on the cross which reads" English Civil War Battle of Stow 21st March 1646. Near this cross Sir Jacob Astley surrendered to Parliamentary forces following defeat at the Battle of Stow. Some 200 Royalists were slaughtered in the square and 1500 imprisoned in the church overnight. This was final battle of the first Civil War leading to the end of the Royalist occupation of Oxford"

If you have a sweet tooth there are many shops to tempt you.

Timothy enjoying his visit.

And a few photos taken by D with the Canon bridge SX50






I am not quite sure what this is on top of a chimney



Rosie said...

Really enjoyed all your photos. Such an unusual water fountain and the north door of the church is amazing. I remember staying overnight in Stow many, many years ago at an old mill and walking around the town but don't remember visting the church so it was great to see inside. I was fascinated by all the civil war connections with the town, one of my favourite periods of history much influenced by reading Children of the New Forest when I was young:)

John Scurr said...

I particularly like the two modern stone carvings. The one in the porch of a sheep with its lamb is a particularly lively view of a lamb and very true to life, not at all like usual Church lambs. Nice to have a permanent greeting in multiple languages as well.
The carving of words round a tree under the window "Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice..." from Psalm 96 also looks like modern work. It is a great contrast to the medieval carvings in the church.
I know I have been to Stow on the Wold but I am sure I would have remembered the yew trees flanking the door so I must have missed the church.
The H shaped chimney pot was one of the methods to try to get a good updraught on a fire that didn't draw well. Or are you seeing something behind that which looks like an anemometer to read wind speed and direction?

Another fantastic set of pictures which makes me want to visit again.

Pam said...

Sweet shops and a book shop.....heaven! Great photos, I love the Yew framed door, I can imagine how it could have been an inspiration!

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much. The church is almost hidden away behind the square. I remember reading Children of the New Forest too :) It is fascinating the history behind many of our towns and villages - always something new to learn :)

John Scurr - Thanks so much especially for all the additional information - your comments are always so helpful. Yes, I liked the lamb carving in the porch too.

As mentioned to Rosie above the church is sort of hidden away and I only knew about the door and yew trees because I have seen photos of it in the past. Would be easy to miss as it is not the main entrance to the church.

Thanks especially for information re: the chimney pot - you have solved the mystery :) Son and I were puzzled over the H-shape so I will let him know too.

Hope you get chance to visit again.

Pam - Thank you - several purchases made in all 3 sweet shops - chocolate, fudge and sweets!! Somehow resisted temptation to buy books. The yew framed door is rather special - glad you liked it :)

amanda peters said...

What another lovely place to visit, I do like an old town with i'ts buildings, the church doorway is stunning and would love to see it. Beautiful carvings and stained glass windows. Have not been to a church this year so far. The Bale tombs are impressive. Great photos.

Loving Timothy's knitted jumper and scarf, and the book shop...
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much. I do enjoy exploring old towns and yes you would have loved the church :) I was thrilled to finally see the door and I had read of bale tombs in the Cotswolds so was pleased to see some. I ought to try and get to that area more as apparently there are some superb churches due to the money brought in by the wool trade.

I did plan to go back to the bookshop but had "lost" son as he looked round village while I was in church and it took me ages to find him and I ran out of time.

CherryPie said...

It is such a long time since I visited. Your photos have made me want to go back. I like your photos of the church doorway :-)

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thanks so much. With the Cotswolds only being about an hour away (well the North bit anyway!) I ought to go more often.

Caroline Gill said...

What a wonderful expedition and a magnificent church, RR, made all the more interesting with the 'Tolkien door'! I'm glad Timothy was well wrapped up as it has been bitter here, with icicles all along the underside of the car. Those bale tombs are extraordinary. I remember visiting Worstead church (as in worsted cloth) in Norfolk, another centre of wool, shortly after we moved to the county way back in the early 1970s: I must try and go back after all these years.

Ragged Robin said...

Caroline Gill - Thanks so much. Timothy spent most of his time sheltering from cold in my bag!! There are some really interesting churches in both Norfolk and Suffolk - I just wish I lived closer. Hope you can return to Worstead church - sounds wonderful :)