April 1 – English Heritage site – Kempley

Church Micros around Pauntley, Redmarley D'Abitot , Bromsberrow, Staunton, Corse and Upleadon

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today I worked out a great route of church micros although we are having to travel a reasonable distance to find some that we have not already done. However, first on our list is a visit to St Mary’s Kempley again. It is an English Heritage church which is quite unusual but also means that it is closed for the winter as it was last time we were there. On the sign outside it said that it was open from 1st March but on its English Heritage site every day in March was stated as closed so we left our revisit until the beginning of April only to find it has been open all of March too. It is a Grade 1 listed building and it is famous for its wall paintings. It is a simple Norman church which has a barrel-vaulted chancel ceiling built in the 12th-century and is the earliest and most complete timber roof in Britain.  The church is painted throughout with the most complete set of Romanesque frescoes in northern Europe including the Christ in Majesty painting created in about 1120. The nave paintings are worked in tempera painted on dry lime mortar while those in the chancel are true frescoes. The wall paintings depict The Wheel of Life,  Saints and the VirginThe ApocalypseThe ChancelThe Chancel Arch and Easter Drama.

The first church micro on our list is at St Anne’s church in Oxenhall and you immediately get an impression of the place when you find that the large car park is padlocked and there is nowhere else to park. Do you think the church was open, I think not. What is with that? There has been a church in Oxenhall since 1186. It is dedicated to Saint Anne, one of only 23 churches in England. The Norman South doorway with typical tympanum which suggests the nave was built in the 11th or 12th century. In 1865, it was decided to rebuild the church as the old walls were leaning badly. The church micro was near the end of the canal and we found it easily but it had no lid. This is the end of the canal and the canal house is perched near the edge of a deep empty hole behind the lock. We walked down the track to see the lock and did another multi and then carried on to the Ell Brook aqueduct for a third cache. The lock was originally constructed in 1795 and was closed in 1881 as the lock was filling with silt and debris and the roots were causing damage to the lock walls.

St John the Evangelist in Pauntley is a lovely church with a fine Norman south doorway, a chevron arch and Romanesque sculpture by the Dymock School sculptors. It also has a triptych painting for its reredos and a George III royal coat of arms. We found some nice seats outside where Michael made our lunch while I went to find the cache. I had no luck finding the cache so I ate lunch in the sunshine before we both returned to the cache site but still found nothing so we had to list a “did not find”. The CO Billabong22 checked several days later and also thought it was missing until she found it squished into the mud. Pauntley is the birthplace of Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, and his family owned the manor house, Pauntley Court, in the 14th-century. St John the Evangelist is at the end of the road with several houses. The church had some damage inflicted during the Civil War skirmish between Royalists and Roundheads.

St. Bartholomew’s church stands in the middle of Redmarley D’Abitot village. In the sanctuary, there is a C.E. Kempe and Tower stained glass window and a lovely three-light window in white, red and blue. A window by Kempe often includes his trademark of a golden garb or wheatsheaf. On Kempe’s death in 1907 in accordance with his will, the firm was reformed as C. E Kempe & Co. Ltd and Kempe’s distant cousin, Walter Earnest Tower (1873–1955), was appointed Chairman. Tower thenceforth used a black tower above or within the golden garb. The composer Edward Elgar was a frequent visitor and married a Redmarley girl. In the year 1644 ‘the battle of Redmarley,’ in which between 2,000 and 3,000 troops were engaged, was fought among the fields outside the village.

There was a church meeting going on at the back of the church but they were happy for us to look around. I collected the numbers for the multi and we soon made a quick find. Billabong22 is a geocacher who has put in lots of church micros in Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire and this is another one of hers.

The church of St Mary the Virgin, Bromsberrow and the nearby farm are approached by a long avenue of trees which are well away from the village. This church has been on several of our daily lists but it keeps getting missed. Today is the day! Some of the stained glass windows looked very reminiscent of C.E.Kempe but none had his wheatsheaf symbol. The windows have amazing detail especially in the fabric of the garments. There were small shields all around the roofline and on the chancel gate. The Yate chapel had many wall monuments and hatchments to the Yate family and has some medieval and 17th-century stained glass and a pair of flags dating back to the Civil War. We collected the numbers for the geocache and easily found the cache and although it was covered bugs on the outside, the inside was dry and bug-free.

St James church in Staunton was situated right beside a pond and overlooking farm buildings that have been converted into workshops and studios. At the east end of the north aisle is a huge wall monument to William Horton who died in  1612 with kneeling figures of himself, wife, three sons and three daughters. The sons kneel behind the father and the daughters behind the mother, all facing in the same direction. His wife is a direct descendant of Dick Whittington, and Whittington is believed to have started his journey to London from the steps of Staunton Court, opposite the church. As well as the beautiful East window there was also a lovely modern stained glass window with a pair of plough horses pulling a plough. On the tower wall was a triptych painted in gold and red which looks like it might have been used previously as a reredos. We collected the numbers for the geocache and found the cache easily but the log was soggy and barely signable. The log was breaking upon contact and needed a plastic bag and a new logbook. There were about five pieces of rubbish from MacDonalds beside the car which had been dropped out of someone’s car window despite the fact that there is a rubbish bin only metres away. I picked it up, but why are people so uncaring?

The church of St Margaret, Corse is at the end of a narrow, dead-end road and was a centre for the Chartist Movement of the 19th century. The interior is simple and had only two small stained glass windows in a pattern only but the walls had displays of village life and depicting the influence of Chartism on the district in the early 19th century. Near the church is Snigs End, an estate established by Chartists under the leadership of Feargus O’Connor, a Victorian social activist who sought to create a utopian vision of a ‘New England’ based on worker’s living off the land in communities. Snigs End is one of only five communities built by the Chartists before the movement came to an end. The most interesting historic feature of the church is the simple 12th-century font, crafted in a chalice shape, ornamented with cable design and scallops under the bowl rim. The eastern end of the churchyard was originally part of an orchard belonging to Corse Court. It was later converted into a burial ground for local Quakers and was one of the first Quaker cemeteries in Britain.

St Mary, the Virgin church at Upleadon is 11th-century in origin but has been heavily modified over the centuries. The Tudor era tower is rare, as it is timbered from the bottom to the top and inlaid with red brick. The half-timbered main structure was added in the early 16th century and has a ‘wishbone’ type cross bracing. The nave and carved North doorway are both 12th-century Norman. St Mary The Virgin is listed as a Grade I heritage building for its architectural and historical significance. The church had a quilted blanket depicting local groups possibly made for the Millennium.

We collected the numbers for the multi and found that the final was a bit of a walk away. There were lots of footpath signs but this way around the side of a field was not signposted. However, it looked pretty clear that this is the way we should go and there was an unsealed roadway around the field, so we followed the path and after an easy walk found the cache. We signed the log and sauntered back to the car in the sunshine.

It was getting late by then though so we headed home with six more church micros to our list and 303 points for the Creative Caching competition.