"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, 28 August 2019

Flower Festival at St Laurence Church, Ansley

Many churches in North Warwickshire are kept locked so I am always on the lookout for events when a church will be open and I can have a look around. I noticed on Twitter last Friday evening that St Laurence, Ansley, was holding a flower festival over the bank holiday weekend so on Saturday I persuaded D to come with me and have a look around.

The oldest part of the church is the south side chancel which contains stonework from around 1050. It it believed the church may have been dedicated to St Laurence as Lady Godiva founded several other churches dedicated to the same saint and it is belived this was because her trusted friend Abbot Laurence commissioned the churches. During the reign of King John the church was given by William de Hardreshalle to the nuns at Polesworth. The patronage of the church stayed with them until the Reformation. Much of the south wall of the nave and parts of the chancel are 12th century although some sections have been rendered. There are Norman doorway arches and the tower is 15th century and contains bells dated 1580, 1609 and 1669.

The flower festival is held annually and this was the 55th. This year's theme was "Rest".

If I am honest I am not that keen on formal flower arrangements but the church was just full of flowers and did look very beautiful. Many people must have spent a lot of time and effort to obtain such a display.

The Norman Chancel Arch has capitals with volutes and leaves and on one abacus there is a wonderful carving of a man being devoured by what look like two dragons. Just look at the expression on the man's face! However, the church website suggests one creature is indeed a dragon but the other is a lamb representing the forces of good and evil.

The Chancel

The pillar on which the urn stands is 18th century.

The chancel also contains some wonderful medieval glass fragments.

The Ludford family pews were placed in the chancel in 1760 by a John Bracebridge.

The West Window was beautiful although sadly obscured in places by bell pulls and beams.

Time for tea and cake

A rather unusual weather vane and a

terrifying grotesque!

The churchyard did look a trifle manicured but we did walk through the part that contained recent graves and I did not have chance to check other areas behind the church. Also missed was a 13th century coffin set in the north wall which may be that of a child or may contain the entrails of a crusader. But hopefully, I will return as I have discovered they also hold a Christmas Tree Festival.

Edit - I've just looked through the photos again and I think I may have a photo of the 13th century coffin set in a recess in the North Wall. It is surrounded by flowers and the caption "a holy rest and peace at last". (see photos above).

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera

Reference. Parish Churches of Warwickshire by Mike Salter

History section of the St Laurence's church website.