Cousin Wendy who knows Oxfordshire and surrounding counties like the back of her hand can always be counted on for a good recommendation for a jaunt. She suggested a visit, to the church of Saint John the Baptist Inglesham and which is actually in Wiltshire. Only five minutes walk from the river Thames
We met in Lechlade and walked across the fields, by the river, to the church.
At first sight, the church is very small and a tad unprepossessing. However like all things real beauty is found when we look closer, including bell cot facing westwards and a lovely cross, freestanding, just to the east of the church amongst tipsy looking gravestones.
|TIPSEY GRAVE STONES |
Inglesham village is now completely gone, submerge somewhere under fields and fences. However the church lives on in the kind and careful conservation of The Churches Conservation Trust.
Unusual for a church it is open daily and absolutely covered in wall paintings.
An overcast sky threw a grey light over this lovely Cotswold stone and once we went inside again that grey was fused with occasional sunshine, lighting up the whole place up. What you are enjoying at is the 13th century church that stands just above the water meadows near the Thames
There are within the church layer upon layer of paintings from the 13th to the 17thC, one painted over the other. It is a real puzzle trying to figure out one image from the next. This is, arguably, the way of all good art.
The completely free of Victorian artifice; William Morris himself, who lived down the road at Kelmscott, supervised the restoration of St John’s so the place is free of nasty ornament.
|INSIDE: FREE OF ORNAMENT|
In this church you do not have to figure out what is ancient and what is modern. It is all early and beautifully cared for. As The Churches Conservation Trust website (Link) says what we are looking here is a church, as it would’ve been seen in Oliver Cromwell’s time. Essentially what you see is Saxon and later there are 17th century and 18th century pulpit and box pews throughout the entire church.
And surprises: What caught my eye was a harmonium made in Chicago imported by an organ maker in Oxford.
Arguably this is one of the most exciting churches that I have ever visited. I would not have missed it for the world and would recommend it highly. I will enclose links with this post to give you more detail however if you are ever in the Lechlade area please do visit the church of Saint John the Baptist at Inglesham and bung a donation in the box.