Menory Lane - historical meanderings

I mentioned Claydon Church of St Peter in Sunday's post and that I would fill you in a bit about it's past.  I learned more on this visit than I recall ever knowing when I lived in the area!  In fact, my high school years were spent in the institution which is but  a stone's throw down the hill!!

Much of what you are about to read comes from the very informative little booklet purchased on the premises.  (Links provided where otherwise.)

Firstly, who knew that a church could be made 'redundant'?  Folk more informed than yours truly, certainly.  I was aware of decommissioning, which involves selling off property.  This, however, appears to have been a simple case of dropping it out of active use and letting it go to neglect. This took place in 1977.  There was a Redundant Churches Fund (now the Churches Conservation Trust) but it seems Claydon St Peter was not taken under its care until 1987.  That's a long time in terms of building maintenance.

 Now though, it proved to be a delightful place to visit.  
When Aitch and I arrived at the churchyard, despite a frosty start, the day had become as glorious as could be. Blue skies and sunshine with very little wind.

One of the 'friends' of the church, taking responsibility for its upkeep and decoration, was on site and was happy to have a chat, making us feel invited and welcome.

As did this gorgeous wreath at the main door.

The grass in the yard was kept below ankle level, which made our key reason for visiting (the geocaching hunt) a deal more comfortable.  There were many interesting headstones, but YAMarazzi's antennae twitched when she noticed what appeared to be wooden crosses of the nature seen in Orthodox churches... that is, of Eastern Catholic style.  
This ought to have been
my first clue that not all was as it would seem at this disused Church of England property.

The constructions seen behind the yard wall were also intriguing.

The amateur sleuth in me just HAD to know what these were all about.  The info booklet pointed me in the right direction...

...unlike the GPS thingymebob Aitch was using for the treasure fiasco hunt.

However, I get ahead of myself. Let us, for today, stick to the church building itself.
























It is considered that this has been a place of worship for some 1000 years.  There is evidence in construction of the nave (that's the little bit behind the tower) of Saxon work.  The doorway you can just glimpse here, (but better seen on Monday's post - the one with the shadow...), is thought to be Norman period.  11th and 12th century folks. This is not unusual in UK, particularly England, of course, but I have always been blown away by the sense of time and place.
Drury's font
Wiki Images

The other windows and doorways were added during late 14th and into 15th century. The tower was also built then. Later in the 15th, the font was installed.

Much of the decorative aspects were removed during the time of the Puritans, being considered "superstitious", plus crosses in the church and on the steeple were destroyed. The church became simple and plain as was demanded in true protestant thinking.

This was to change, though.  One Reverend George Drury became the incumbent.  More about him tomorrow, for here was one very interesting and controversial individual.

Suffice to say that much of how the church looks today is as a result of his 'refurbishing' endeavours.  He was hands-on too.  Quite a lot of the wood and stone carving in the interior is by his own hand.  He was also the designer of some of the stained glass windows and was primarily responsible for the vaulted arches connecting the nave with the chancel, putting in two transepts (forming a 'cross' of the building).  The chancel itself is at least founded in medieval structure but much has been altered here too.

There is a single bell in the tower, which was cast locally in 1676.

I shall refrain from telling more about the decor here as it is closely tied into the personality that was its Victorian rector.  Part two tomorrow!!

3 comments:

  1. 1,000 years that just so old, 200years is very old here we just don't have the history here.
    Merle.........

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm glad to hear the Churches Conservation Trust took this lovely site under their wing and are taking care of it. It would have been a shame for both the building and grounds, not to mention the history, to be lost.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hari Om
    Merle - that is true in some respects - then again Australia has its own, very particular history!

    SQ - couldn't agree more!

    ReplyDelete

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