Saturday, 20 March 2010

Cotswold Lambs

Last week we went up to the Cotswold Hills on a chilly spring day. As we parked the bike, a farmer drove into a field on a quad bike, towing a high sided trailer. Four lambs and two ewes tumbled out. We got chatting to the farmer, who was very proud of this year's results; it's been an excellent year for sheep and we were pleased to hear it. These little ones were only two days old, but after just a few minutes in the brisk Easterly wind, (which you can hear whipping round us) they were exploring their new world with a joyful curiosity. Down in the valley, gangs of lambs charged about and bounced around.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A little Saxon church

This is one part of the tale of two churches, lying within a mile or so of each other. The first church (as seen in my previous post '
A Cotwolds bonbon') is the one situated above, in the village of Coln St Dennis and is Norman in origin, though almost certainly built on the site of a previous Saxon church. We visited both on a chilly Spring day last week. Each is a tiny, simple jewel, and each contains a similar story with different endings. To visit this first one, you need to go over to my other blog. But here, we are continuing our walk, on to Coln St Rogers.

Instead of following this inviting lane, we turned off left, and took a sideways route along the riverbank, the church just visible to our right.

The pussy willow was out - who can resist stroking the silky soft furry buds?

The South porch is a later addition, as is the bell tower.

Inside, an earlier, Norman entrance with recessed Typanum (the top of the arch).

We are still in the early learning stage of 'reading a church' and our slim knowledge is often confused and groping - which is a shame because this marvellous little building is as rich in history as any grand cathedral. The central chancel arch seen here is apparently part of the first Saxon building, making at least 1,000 years old. St Andrews is a rare example of an very early church which has retained much of its original ground plan.

On top of the solid stone jambs, pellet ornament and you can see behind Saxon 'long and short work' - the supporting masonry surrounding the tall window. The pulpit to the right of the chancel arch is from the later Gothic 'Perpenicular period'; the late 1300's to the 1500's.

There are more wonderful old features than I could possibly list here, but we intend to return and I will continue my lecture another day. One final poppet - the remains of a Gothic period glass figure of St Margaret, about the same age as the stone pulpit (1300's - 1500's).

On the way out I picked up a jar of homemade marmalade -

Sat on top of the Norman tub-shaped font in a tupperware box -

and only 80p. It's an honesty system and you pop your money in a little 'letterbox' safe in the wall.

A country church may appear deserted, but there will be some neighbour keeping a watchful eye on the odd visitor. Here I found Andy with a volunteer gardener, discussing the Great War (World War One) and the devastating impact it had on the population of British villages. And here is the parting of the way in my tale of two villages.

For while in neighbouring Coln St Dennis, many young lives were lost, miraculously all the servicemen from Coln Rogers - and one woman who was in the
Voluntary Aid Detachment - returned. I found myself wondering what repercussions this had on relationships between the villages, which, being in an isolated spot and so close to each other, must have had tight bonds. Were there undercurrents of resentment or a general feeling of thankfulness that at least some had been spared?

As usual I am indebted for my clumsy knowledge to the Internet and the useful little pamphlet provided by a local amateur historian.

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