Friday, 3 July 2020

HOORAY! Open for Business


In another one of my jaunts with Rosie, across the border into Berkshire, we alighted on Sonning on Thames. It was a super sunny day to mooch round St Andrews church.


Parking was a conundrum so I begged permission to park in the area next to the vicarage. The Revd. Jamie Taylor (I presumed) answered the vicarage door and said of course. 

“The church is open by the way he added”.

Open for business! YAY!


Joy of joys, for we had not been inside a church for twelve weeks so this was a much-missed treat.


St Andrews Sonning actually opened for business around 900 AD and became one of the twin Cathedrals of the Bishop of Salisbury. It was a good call; three of Sonning's medieval bishops achieved Sainthood.


Now inside the church is it full of lovely Victorian fancies. 

Hugh Pearson became vicar of Sonning in 1841. He found the church in a bit of a mess and set about to fix it up. With the drive and enthusiasm of Kevin McCloud in Grand Designs. The good reverend pulled in a good architect.


In 1852 Henry Woodyer led the church’s restoration. Woodyer, architect and pupil of William Butterfield (Butterfield ‘did’ All Saints Margaret Street in London which is simply fab. Woodyer was also a disciple of A. W. N. Pugin sometimes referred to as God’s Architect. 


Off came the roof and the height of the Nave was raised; any of the arches where repaired and then most of the windows where replaced. 

Woodyer's makeover - Victorian loveliness


Robert Palmer (MP) paid for the majority of the work. Mr Palmer liked a good rebuild having pulled down and rebuilt Holme Park round the corner.


I did miss the famous Rich Monument dedicated to Sir Thomas Rich who was buried in the vault below in 1667. The monument came in to a lot of flak when erected; The Ecclesiologist magazine described it as ‘the vilest paganism imaginable’ It appeared that sad putti and vast urns where not the writer’s thing. Monument has been removed to beneath the tower where it can be viewed through the curtained grill.


There is a imaginative portrayal of the Church’s history (from which I have immoderately borrowed) here

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Thank you very much for your comments - Tim