Sunday, 3 April 2016

Gloucestershire Churches: As pretty as a nest of thrush’s eggs.




The first Saxon missionaries made their way inland up the river Severn and evidence of their infiltrations can be enjoyed today.  Two churches testify these incursions.

Kempley
St Mary church sits right outside the village and so much so that you think you are halfway into Wales before finding the church. It sits on the edge of a field with a small stream close by.

The church is redundant and in the custody of English Heritage. They don’t open up St Mary until March so I was by four days too early to enjoy the wall paintings, which are the draw: the most comprehensive set of wall paintings in the country.


However I sat in the porch and made a drawing of the early Norman door and then stood in the field and admired the church and its fortified tower.

Deerhurst is a stones throw from the Severn and indeed instead of a church gate there is a floodgate, which has recently been holding back the rising waters.  

A former Anglo-Saxon monastery, St Mary is jewel box of styles; Perpendicular, Tudor and Saxon herringbone, the chancel is laid out like a Leveller’s courtroom.



Inside the church all is tall willowy Saxon, and all the Saxon bits have been left for us to enjoy, inside and out. Behind and outside the church at the ground level is remains of an apse with an 10C angel set high up in the wall.