October 2 – Some geocaches around Ablington and Fairford

Coffee with Andy at Burford

Hi from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

After we had fed the cats and Beth at lunchtime we headed off towards Ablington to do a few caches. There is an amazing geocaching track called GCW or Great Cotswold Walk. It is a series of 130 caches covering 37 km on footpaths, bridleways and some country lanes. You walk through some beautiful villages and see some fantastic views of the Cotswolds. There are three loops of caches from Quenington and back 1 -37 & 71 – 93 (16 km), Ablington and back 38 – 70 (10 km) and the Lower Loop Quenington and back 94 – 130 (11 km)

I would love to do it all but not all at once as some people do. We have previously done 14 and today did another 6. We would have done more but we have an appointment later.

We went to Fairford ( see also May 28) as we wanted to see the church and to do the church micro there before we headed back to Burford. A gentleman manning the church took us around to show us the highlights. St Mary’s possesses the only complete set of medieval stained glass in England. Other churches have superb glass, but at Fairford, the complete original glass is still in place, as it was set there over 500 years ago. Only one small section of the west window had to be replaced in 1864. There are 28 windows, arranged in sequence to tell Biblical stories to a largely illiterate population. There is a sequence of 9 windows telling the Life of Christ, beginning by the organ, and culminating at the Great West Window, which depicts the Last Judgement.

There was a church there as early as the 11th century, but the earliest parts of the current building are 13th-century foundations in the northeast corner and in the lowest parts of the central tower. The early medieval church was completely rebuilt around 1490 at the expense of John Tame, a wealthy wool merchant. Tame sought permission from the Diocese of Worcester to pull down the earlier church, with the exception of the 14th-century tower. The tower remained as part of the new church, though it was raised in height with exquisitely carved corner turrets, and buttressed to take the extra weight.

Tame died in 1500 and is commemorated by a very fine table tomb and brass in the Lady Chapel. He lived long enough to see ‘his’ church dedicated in 1497. The glass for which St Mary’s is famous was installed under Tame’s son Edmund, who took over the building project on his father’s death. Edmund Tame also had beautifully carved screens installed.

There was also a great set of 14 misericords and some fantastic tapestry kneelers. The church micro numbers were taken from inside the church but then we realised that we had run out of time and it was time to head to Burford. We will have to come back another time to get the church micro and ‘A Fine Pair’ which we didn’t find last time. Beth was a welcome guest in the church although it always feels alien to us taking dogs into buildings including the churches. We don’t often do it unless someone particularly invites the dog in.

At the Warwick Hall cafe, we met up with Andy who has now retired from his work as a verger at the Burford church. He was keen to catch up on all our adventures and we spent an hour chatting happily. They make a great latte! When Andy showed us around the church on our last day in Burford he had mentioned that Donny and Marie Osmond had visited the church and found some ancestors in the churchyard. The surname was Titcombe and we saw their headstones.

Another nice day, cool but not raining.