Church Buildings

St Mary’s Church, Chidham, West Sussex

A few weeks ago in August 2017, we visited a few churches in Hampshire and West Sussex.  They were all, what I call country churches, lovely and small, sometimes very plain, but all different and all were  open……which pleased me no end.  In St Mary’s Church in Chidham, West Sussex, were the remains of wedding flowers, the smell was wonderful, its amazing how even a small vase of flowers, will fill a church of sweet smells.  

The church was most likely built in the early 13th century, it was first suggested 1210 as the date of construction.  This is supported by the architecture of the lancet windows on the north and south side of the chancel which are classic early 13th century.

During the Reformation which swept away the Rood Screen, it is thought that the old stone font was hidden away under the floor of the nave.  There the font remained, until it was accidentally discovered when major works were carried out in the 19th century.  It was hoped it was of Saxon stonework, but as the Domesday Book does not mention a church, the trail goes cold.

I have posted some of the photos and paintings that I found inside the church.  Sometimes they can tell you a little extra, and its lovely to see have the church has evolved over the years.

There are a few pieces of nice stained glass, and one lovely coloured modern window which was to celebrated the 800th anniversary of the church.

The stone work of the church indicates that the stones came from different stone quarries. Caen, Bembridge, Cocking, Lavent and some were even purloined from Roman walls of Chichester. 

 

The Glory of Albi, South of France

Today 15.09.17, we arrived in Albi in the South of France, and I have managed to download a couple of photos.  This is the view of the cathedral from the window where we are staying and of course it was straight there to have a look and I have downloaded one interior photo so you have an idea of what we saw.  Tomorrow all the public buildings in France are free of charge which we didn’t know about, so as we have a whole day in Albi, we are going to be very busy, much to husbands amusement 🙂  More to follow when we get home.

St Leonards Church, Bursledon, Hampshire

Today 13.09.17, in the South of France, it was another beautiful hot day.  We went along the coast to Nice and Monaco, visited a few places on the coast and then popped over to Italy, and then made our way up into the French Alps.  Found a lovely Alpine Town with a wonderful church, which I will post about when the laptop is better.  So, as I can’t post about the lovely churches I have visited in France, I found an English one that I can.

St Leonards Church is in Bursledon, a village in Hampshire, on the south coast of England.  We were visiting Hampshire back in July and on the way home stopped for something to eat in Bursledon, when I noticed the church.  It was about 7.00 pm, so I knew it would be locked, but it’s such a pretty church I took photos anyway, as goodness knows when we will be passing again.  

A little history…..

The church in Bursledon can trace its history back to the last half of the twelfth century.

All churches can be given a ‘date’ by the styles of architecture they contain: St. Leonard’s has features that seem to confirm that it was indeed founded in the later twelfth century. The simple elegance of the Chancel Arch, dividing the nave from the raised area at the east end of the church, is of early English style and can be dated to 1190-1300. The font is perhaps earlier and, although unfinished and retooled in places, it is of transitional style dateable to 1160-1190.

The blocked doorways in the nave, presumably once the main access points for monks and congregation before the Victorian extension, date to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The small lancet window in the chancel, although restored in 1888-9 is of a thirteenth-century design.

In the 1830′s St. Leonard’s had two transepts added, making a cross-shaped church in plan. However, these proved unsatisfactory and in 1888-9 the church was extensively re-modelled. There is a brass plaque in the nave detailing the work that the architect, John Sedding, carried out. It seems that Sedding kept what was best about the old church and sensitively extended the nave and replaced the transepts, to accommodate the growing population of Bursledon.

 

 

 

Village Sign & Church of Great Dunham, Norfolk

Norfolk is full of wonderful churches and Great Dunhams Church, St Andrews, is a little gem.  This lovely little church is more Saxon than everything else, so it has a right to be on the village sign, which is great for my ‘Village Sign & Church Category’.   I haven’t be able to find anything out about the sign, but its the church that is really interesting…..post to follow soon.

January 2016 ‘Village Sign & Church’ Category 

St George’s Church, Woolhope, Herefordshire

 

On the day we visited Ledbury, Herefordshire in February 2015, which was last nights post, we found a church to explore.  Herefordshire has some wonderful churches and much to my shame, I have hardly posted any, so to make amends, this post is St George’s Church in the village of Woolhope.   I have posted some of the wonderful stained glass windows before, but will included them again.

The church is approached from the south by a long path from the timbered ‘Skallenge’ (lych gate), dating from 1581.

On the day of our visit, the graveyard was full of snowdrops, almost like a carpet in some parts.  I found several interesting cherub headstones and one very upset looking one, as the following photo shows.

I wasn’t too worried about the church not being open, as all the churches we stopped to explore in Herefordshire had been open and yes it was unlocked.

The one thing I did notice very quickly were the extremely thick columns as the structure is largely Norman, from the second half of the 12th Century.  The Norman work is seen in the North arcade, a window in the Sanctuary and a carved head under the tower, but much of the present fabric, internal woodwork and fittings, date from a major restoration in the 1880s under the benefaction of the Booker family of Wessington Court.

The 13th Century tower commands the valley named after Wulviva who, with her more famous sister Godiva, gave the land to the Dean and Chapter of Hereford. The sisters are commemorated in a striking window in the North aisle.

 

 

A Church in the South Tyrol, Italy

Another photo from the train window, while traveling from the UK to Venice, Italy 2016.  We saw a great many tall red spired churches, in fact in the end they all look the same and I have spent quite a while researching this one.  But every time I think I have found it, something is not quite right.  The church appeared after we had passed Reifenstein Castle, as per my previous post, but it was before Trento……my, thats narrowed it down a lot… anyway its the image of the church that counts 🙂

 

Church of Ognissanti, Florence, Italy

Last year, 2016, we visited Florence, Italy, it wasn’t a particularly nice day, but what amazed me was the amount of people there were, I actually thought that in October, it would have been quieter, got that wrong.  It didn’t help that we got lost once we left the train station, we walked for ages until we worked out that we were totally going in the wrong direction, we cut through some back streets to the river and then realised where we should be.  But if we hadn’t got lost we would have missed the beautiful church of Ognissanti (All Saints).  Not a large church, but it was open, it was free and the best thing of all……you could take photos, as long as you didn’t use a flash.  After all the closed and photo forbidden churches in Venice…. I was going to photograph every inch of it.  

The Church of Ognissanti is a Franciscan church and Sandro Botticelli is buried here, which I didn’t know until I got home and carried out some research.  

A little history…. I added the information boards at the bottom of the post….The original church was completed in 1257, but was almost completely rebuilt in the baroque style in 1627.  There is a beautiful blue terracotta glazed lunette, over the entrance, in the style of della Robbia, but the artist was actually Benedetto Buglioni. There are frescoes by Ghirlandiao and Botticelli in the church. 

Below is Giotto’s Crucifix which dates from the 1320’s, which has been carefully restored over eight years.   It was a lovey surprise to see it shine in the darkness, so very beautiful.  

Giotto’s Crucifix

Some information I found………….Formerly in the sacristy for 84 years, Giotto’s monumental Crucifix is back in the Florentine church for which it was painted in 1310-1315, after a careful 8-year long restoration by the Opificio delle Pierre Dure, which has restored the luminosity and brilliance of its colours and glazes, its volumes and its modelling.

The Ognissanti Crucifix was a neglected Italian treasure which a team of experts have now repaired and identified.  After long being attributed to a relative or school of the early Renaissance artist Giotto, the Ognissanti crucifix is now believed to be the work of the 14th-century Italian himself.  The painted cross, which hangs in the Ognissanti church in Florence, underwent extensive cleaning by the local restoration lab Opificio delle Pietre Dure.  The project was led by art historian Marco Ciatti, who has concluded that the crucifix is a Giotto masterpiece dating from the 1320s.

The majestic tempera on panel realised by Giotto and his workshop around 1310-1320 had been sadly neglected for centuries.  Kept in the sacristy of the church of Ognissanti, it was rarely seen and the vigorous modelling of the flesh tones of the figures, and the many precious details of the pictorial surface, were hidden by a severely altered layer due to a treatment of the past and century-old grime. The restoration of Giotto’s Ognissanti Crucifix was started by Paola Bracco in 2002.
The crucifix is situated in a chapel to the left of the transept. The crucifix was originally located above the rood screen in the transept of the Ognissanti church, but this no longer exists.

The church seems small inside, with no aisles, and compressed almost for being very densely decorated. Vertigo-inducing trompe l’oeil architectural ceiling painting by Giuseppe Benucci.  When you look at the ceiling at different angles, it seemed to move.  The ceiling seems a lot higher than it is, and it looks like the angel is about to fly from the balcony, which is really flat against the ceiling, so very clever.

St Jerome in his Study, fresco by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1480.  Unfortunately I have no idea who painted the rest of the frescos, but I love the little round ceiling with the angels.  I will let the photos continue the tour of this amazing church that we were lucky to find.