April 5 – A few church micros around Down Hatherley and Churchdown.

On our way to Buckhurst Hill, Essex

Hi from 1066 A Medieval Mosaic

This morning we left Seabournes reasonably early as Karen and family have a big day getting ready for the Open Garden Weekend tomorrow as well as having guests in the Airbnb accommodation and a houseful of the family all arriving today. We were very sad to say goodbye to all the animals and Hector and Mimi tried at least once to stow away in our car as we finished our packing.

We had all day to get to Buckhurst Hill in Essex, north of London so we planned a few church micros on the way before getting onto the motorway system. Our first port of call was St John the Evangelist Church in Churchdown which is between Gloucester and Cheltenham. It is a very new church, the first to be built in Gloucester the Gloucester diocese after World War 2. The church was consecrated on March 15th, 1958 – not that long before I was born! A vicarage was built adjoining the church, in the same classical style, and a new church hall was added in the 1980s. The church was not open and the area was very busy so after finding the cache we moved on to Down Hatherley.

The church of St Mary and Corpus Christi Down Hatherley dates from the 15th century, the Late Perpendicular tower and the base of the east wall of the chancel being the only remaining parts of the original 15th-century church. It seems likely that an even earlier church existed and there is evidence of a “chaplain” in Down Hatherley as early as 1222. The church was reconstructed in the 1850s by the architect was F. S. Waller for Sir Matthew Wood, Baronet, MP and twice Lord Mayor of London. Down Hatherley is described as one of Waller’s best rural churches.

The East stained glass window, by O’Connor dates from around 1860 using very vibrant colours and the window by Hardman uses more solid colours. The “Thacker Neville” windows were made by A.L. Moore in memory of Thomas Villiers Tuthill, Captain of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. He was killed in Ypres on Ascension Day 1915. These are stunning windows featuring men in armour using gold and white with some colour.

The lead font is one of only nine Tudor lead fonts in Gloucestershire and 38 in England. The decoration is foliage and Tudor roses in cartouche-shaped frames, lozenges, stars and twisted balusters. At the bottom is a band of late perpendicular cresting.

According to a survey in 2007, the oldest grave in the churchyard was that of William Drinkwater, who died on 17 January 1615. On his tombstone are the details of a charity which he set up to provide for the poor, with the following inscription: “Heere lyeth the body of William Drinkewater. Buried the XXIX day of January 1615, who (in zeale to the worde) gave forty shillings yeerely for ever towardes the maintenance of a preacher in Glocester, and in charity ten shillings yeerely to the poor of Hatherley forever”

We collected the numbers and walked the short distance to find the cache about 7 metres from the given coordinates.  Our last visit was to St Andrew’s church back in Churchdown again but quite a distance away from St Johns.
St Andrews was a newer church that we were not going to go into but the hall was open and full of people enjoying lunch. We went into the church and were pleased to find three lovely stained glass windows designed by Edward Payne. One depicted the martyrdom of Bishop Hooper who was burned at the stake during the Reformation in 1555, another was Bishop Osric, the Vice Roy of Mercia and the other window was lovely in greens from 1977. We were very pleased to have seen these wonderful windows by a modern artist before finding the cache nearby.
After these visits, we decided it was time to be on the road as we needed to get to our new housesit in Essex and need to be on the M25 before all the Friday traffic began in earnest.
In Buckhurst Hill, near Epping Forest, we were greeted by Laure and her two sons Lucas and Tom. Both boys were very smart and aged 14 and 10 and what followed was one of the most interesting and stimulating meals of my life. Lucas could talk on any subject and we discussed many different subjects from prime numbers to quantum physics, Brexit and the future of power generation. Tom settled on the computer with Michael to explain the uses of PowerPoint to him. Mike was very impressed. Laure made and lovely tea and Lucus made us his speciality of Tarte Tatin for dessert. Laure is French and teaches nearby. Both boys are bilingual and they were off to France to spend the school holidays with their grandparents. Suki, the wonderful black cat, approved of us at first sight and loved to sit right beside me as often as possible even if it meant sitting on my books.
A very special evening and one we will not soon forget.