Friday, March 16, 2007

Pilling's Georgian Church: Part Two

Okay…time to continue our tour of Pilling’s Georgian church, continuing from where we left off last time with our enigmatic stone ball. (Again, apologies for the black and white images but should you feel the need to take your venom out on somebody then please address your complaints to whoever it was responsible for wiping out our hard drive with a stupid virus.)
The ‘stone vessel’ below the carved ball appears to be some sort of ancient font, possibly from the Newers Wood Chapel…although nobody seems to know for certain. (The ‘Saxon Font’ at Eagland Hill church also claims to be from Newer’s Wood, so it’s difficult to say with any certainty.) Various objects (along with gravestones) were undoubtedly from Pilling’s original church during its demolition in 1717. Amongst the bric-a-brac, or so it’s alleged, was most of the masonry which now constitutes three of the walls.
The pews seen below (shorter than all the others) are also believed to have originated in Newer’s Wood although, again, nobody can actually prove this. They’re certainly about the right size.

As for the rest of the pews…well, once again, nobody seems to know where they originally came from. What can be determined, however, is that if the ends tailored to fit squarely against the walls are anything by which to judge then the pews must have hailed from a much larger church…several of them having no ‘flat ends’ at all and therefore belonging to a church with one central row. This would also explain why their numbers are, somewhat confusingly, out of sequence.
One last feature worth a mention here (actually there are quite a few more but we’re fast running out of space) is the ‘pew box’ shown in the photograph above, tucked discreetly away in the northwest corner of the balcony. This, as the plaque on the door informs us, was reserved for the housemaids of the Dixon family. A quick sit-down inside it reveals how impossible it would have been for the ‘maids’ to see the pulpit…and, of course, for the pulpit to see them. Not a bad spot for a snooze then on a hot Sunday morning when Reverend Potter was assaulting the rest of the congregation with his fire and brimstone sermons.

All in all the old church of St. John the Baptist, Pilling, is well worth a visit, if only to stroll around the ancient graveyard or to peer into through the mullioned windows.
A full guide by David Weston is still available for fifty pence and can probably be obtained (although we couldn’t confirm this as we were given ours free) by writing to: The Redundant Churches Fund, St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 5DE.

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