September 10 – A church micro day around Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire

Chipping Norton, Little Compton, Chastleton, Batsford, Chipping Campden, Weston-sub-Edge, Aston-sub-Edge, Saintbury, Willersey, Broadway, Snowshill

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today the Soldier’s of Oxfordshire Museum was closed as it was a Monday so Mike and I went geocaching around northern Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire collecting more church micros. We drove all the way to Chipping Norton before we found a church micro had we had not previously done. After finding the CM at the Baptist church we moved on to St Denys in Little Compton. We found a container which we could not open. Mike was sure that this was the cache but I was sure it was not and was a decoy. I was right. I kept looking and found the real cache attached to the hint object. There was a great Bishop Juxon window in the church by Hugh Easton.

The recorded history of Little Compton begins in the 11th century, but it is likely that the village had already existed for three or four centuries by this time. Centuries ago the village was known as Compton in Floribus (Compton in the Flowers.) The Church, with the Manor adjacent to it, belonged to the Priory at nearby Deerhurst re-founded in 1056 by King Edward the Confessor, an offshoot of the great Abbey of St Denys in Paris where French Kings are buried. The present building has 12th-century origins and the saddleback tower built in the 14th-century is of particular interest. During the Civil War, which ended in 1648, the deposed Bishop of London, William Juxon lived in his family home in the Manor, next to the Church. When, during the Civil War, the King was executed, Bishop Juxon, who had also been Lord Treasurer of England, was the priest who accompanied him to the scaffold. The scenes of the execution are now represented in a beautiful stained glass window in the Lady Chapel of the Church. The Bible used by Bishop Juxon at the execution is on display at nearby Chastleton House, now owned by the National Trust.
After the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, Juxon was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, by Charles II. He died in 1663 and is buried in St John’s College, Oxford.
We found the church micro at St Mary’s at Chastleton. We found the cache after a brief search even though the area was full of nettles and ripe blackberries. When I logged the cache I was surprised to find that it had been archived as it was definitely still there. We had fun collecting blackberries for a pie and eating lots along the way of course. They were perfect. We made an easy find at St Michael and All Angels at Great Wolford. It had a couple of wall monuments to the Ingram family and a modern stained glass window.
St Leonards at Lower Lemington was an old church with the area going back to Roman times. It seemed like we were driving through someone’s paddock to reach the village which is not what it used to be but the cottage is very beautiful. The cache was not easy to find as the coordinates were a little out but suddenly I located it. The inside of my pen dropped out into the grass and completely disappeared. I never did find it.
St Marys Church at Batsford had an apsidal chancel with four C.E.Kempe stained glass windows. It was built in the Anglo-Norman style with wonderful stone carving around the chancel arch and the window arches. There was a 19th-century arcaded enclosure to the family pews and a circular limestone font standing on three marble columns. There was a 19th-century marble coffin lid with a foliated cross on a mosaic background by Sir George Gilbert Scott. There were some wall monuments to the Freeman family, including one to John Thomas Freeman-Mitford, Earl of Redesdale, d.1886. This church gets lots of visitors from the Batsford Arboretum but we didn’t come from that direction. The cache was easily found after we sat outside the church eating our lunch.
We arrived at Chipping Campden just before school got out so it was hard to find anywhere to park. We got the last park and walked back to St Catharines Catholic church. It had a wonderful high altar with a stone reredos behind it made by A.N. Wall of Cheltenham.
We then went to St James church which we were very pleased to find open as it was a lovely church where we spent a lot of time. It had some wonderful huge tombs and wall monuments in the Gainsborough Chapel. Poor Lady Penelope died from blood poisoning from pricking her finger while sewing. To the right of the altar is a wonderful window of the Last Supper by Hardman. There were four wonderful and amazingly complete memorial brasses under the carpets in the chancel. One brass was dedicated to William Grevett, a wool merchant and his wife. There was also a 14th-century cope and a pair of 15th-century altar frontals very carefully kept behind curtains. I collected the numbers for the geocache without any problems and quickly found the cache though I thought it was an unnecessarily dangerous place to hide it as it was on a very busy blind corner of the road with no footpath.
Our next church was Aston-sub-Edge where the church was closed and the cache quickly found. Then we went on to Weston-sub-Edge to St John the Baptist and St Lawrence’s church which had a Queen Anne royal coat of arms. All twelve of the stained glass windows were made by the same artist, Frederick Preedy and they are quite wonderful. Apparently, he did a lot of work in this area, both windows and architecture. There were an hourglass pulpit and a memorial brass on the wall. Also a tomb of Francis Hole Bourne from 1880 in the sanctuary. There was a stone reredos with a decalogue surrounding it. There was a cute toy koala sitting on the organ stall waiting for the next service. Wahoo, the cache was very tricky to find but I find it I did!
St Nicholas church at Saintbury was a conservation church which was closed so we quickly found the cache and moved on to St Peter’s in Willersey. St Peter’s is a lovely church with rectors dating from 1281 with Robert de Gloucester. It had lovely flowers throughout and also on the outside across the door as we believe there has recently been a wedding here. It was a cruciform church and the ceiling of the crossing was ribbed with bosses in stone. The numbers were quickly collected and we found that we were required to walk through a field of cows. I don’t think so. Not a sensible thing to do at all. We drove around to the final position and soon found the cache while chatting to the cows knowing that they were safely on the other side of the fence.
After making a quick find at the Methodist church in Willersey we moved on to Broadway where we found four church micros at St Saviours, the Methodist church, St Michaels and All Angels and the United Reformed Church. It is the first time I found three church micros all within a short walking distance of each other. At St Eadburgha the church was open even though it was by now quite late but we were completely unable to locate the church micro and had to log our first DNF of the day. St Eadburgha’s Church has been a Christian place of worship since Saxon times. The dedication is rare and denotes a strong link with Alfred the Great’s grand-daughter who as a child was offered jewels or a Bible as a gift, she chose the latter and dedicated her life to the service of God. The present cruciform church dates back to the 12th-century and contains some fine medieval and Jacobean woodwork.

We thought that we were on our way home but we had to look for one more church micro for St Barnabas church at Snowshill as we were driving right past it. We found the cache easily then returned to the pub down the road to have some dinner just before they stopped cooking. Mike had a steak and ale pie and I had battered fish and chips.

A great day with 18 church micros added to our tally bringing us to 872 church micros.