But today I’m writing about four churches I have never seen – not surprising when one considers the vast number of churches in England. They are all Church of England churches, very old, well-known, much visited and interesting for different reasons.
St John the Baptist, Little Maplestead Essex, is still in use as a Church of England parish church. It is commonly known as the “Round Church” because of its circular nave. There are only four such medieval churches remaining and this is the youngest one built by the Knights Hospitaller in 1335.
On the first Sunday in June, The Order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem in ceremonial robes, process into the church. This Order became the St John’s Ambulance service.
Through the centuries, the Round Church was added to and restored. The font, dating from 1080, was found during restoration.
See www.roundchurch.co.uk for photos and go to About us - History for an informative article.
St Mary, Fairford in the lovely Cotswolds, Gloucestershire.
This large Perpendicular Gothic style Church of England parish church is notable for its complete set of 28 medieval stained glass windows made by King Henry V111’s glazier, Barnard Flower, in Westminster. The King attended mass in St Mary’s. The glass is as it was then except for one small section that was damaged and replaced in the 19th century. The windows describes the life of Christ including the Last Judgment, the Christian faith and features saints, prophets, apostles, martyrs, those who persecuted them and small inserts of important people of the time. Google: images for st marys fairford stained glass.
Greensted Church: the Church of St Andrew
St Andrew’s has the distinction of being the oldest wooden church in the world and the oldest stave built building in Europe. It is near Chipping Ongar in Essex and still an active church with weekly services.
It has been altered and added to over the centuries but the oldest part built between 998 and 1068 of split oak trunks is still part of the church. (The remains of two earlier churches of late 6thc were found under the chancel floor.) An interesting feature is the Lepers’ Squint on the outside so lepers could be blessed but not infect the congregation. Another feature is a 12thc grave, possibly of a crusader. One bell in the white panelled tower is inscribed “William Land made me 1618”, dating the tower as a 15th c addition. See the church website: www.greenstedchurch.org.uk For many beautiful photos Google: images for greensted church the church of St Andrew.
Bremilham Church, Cowage Farm, Foxley, Wiltshire
And now to a church which, unlike the others, can’t be described as a functioning church although it does hold one service (the Rogation Sunday service) a year with practically all the congregation outside. This is because it is the smallest church in Britain, so small that only the Vicar, four congregants sitting in the single pew, and the organist can get in. There is no room for an altar.
There had been a village, no longer there, and large church on the site but in the early 1800s the church was demolished and the little church built. When the farm was sold, the new owners did not use it as the turkey house it had become, but had it re-consecrated as a church 30 years ago. See an article from the Daily Mail for most interesting photos. The church now has a pew inside, not the 4 chairs in the photo.)
I enjoyed my web visits very much. I hope you do too!
PS. Good Cause: A Safeguarding African Conference has just taken place in Cape Town. Our children, especially those in deprived areas, are at risk and tragically a great many are murdered or never found. See this informative Christian website for a group who are battling this problem in East London.