Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another Handful of Chipping’s Chippings

St. Bartholomew’s Church in Chipping was apparently restored in a major fashion (especially round the windows, only a couple of which now date back to 1500) in 1873. This wasn’t the first rebuild however. That was in 1506, a couple of chantries being added in 1519 and in 1530, and further alterations being conducted in 1706 and 1754, during the latter of which a gallery was installed for the choir. (Possibly they all had to hang from the rafters in the ceiling before that…I couldn’t honestly say.) The earliest records for the church stem back to circa 1230.
Quite a busy little church on the whole then, so it’s a pity that on the day we visited the doors were locked, because there’s tons of stuff worth looking at inside. (It’s an all too common sign of the times that a tiny, out of the way village like Chipping needs to lock its church doors to prevent burglars getting in.)
Nil Desperandum as us highly educated types like to say. We’ve got an old postcard showing the church’s interior back in the days of black and white (or sepia at any rate), and we suspect it hasn’t changed much since.

Apparently there’s a cross base inside the church somewhere that was once used a plague stone. A plague stone was where sufferers from the bubonic plague would leave their monies in return for goods, at a nice safe distance from the uncontaminated, in vinegar just to be on the safe side. It was moved circa 1610 from outside.
Alongside it stands a sixteenth century Belgian chest (brought from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London). There’s also a fourteenth century piscina (that’s a niche in the wall before we receive any inappropriate comments) in the sanctuary, and the font dates from 1520. It was a gift, apparently, from Bradley Hall (no relation to Daryl).
Obviously, not being able to gain access to the interior, we couldn’t photograph the font. But other people have photographed it over the years, and at great personal risk to our copyright lawyers we’ve managed to track down a couple of those photographs and have even drawn one of them up, in the dim hopes that it should be sufficient to keep future legal proceedings at bay.

The base of the font, it’s reckoned, is one of the upturned capitals (the bits at the top of the columns) from the north arcade.
We’ve done the same (i.e. redrawn somebody else’s photograph to avoid copyright infringement) for the mediaeval carvings in the next illustration. (You’ve got to have mediaeval carvings in a church like this, otherwise it’s just a no starter really.)

We’re not entirely sure what the carving on the far right is supposed to be. Possibly a dragon’s head…or somebody’s cod piece…maybe even a mediaeval version of Snoopy. Other capitals inside the church have carved petals, leaves and abstract designs on them…apparently.
Let’s have a proper photograph, eh? One of ours -- that being of the exterior of the church because we didn’t need the doors unlocked for that.

Quaint, isn’t it?
In the centre of the picture you might just be able to make out the sundial. The column dates from 1708 and stands on…or in, whichever you prefer…the traditional Saxon three-stone-steps base (representing the holy trinity, or so we read somewhere). The original cross, it’s reckoned, was removed sometime around 1618.
One last photograph for now, this time showing the bit where the tower joins onto the main church.

As you can probably see, it isn’t a very good fit, especially the buttress, which isn’t so much flying as squashed into a corner with its tail feathers clipped. That’s because the tower was part of the 1506 rebuild and, like a lot of towers on old churches like this, they didn’t quite get it right.
There’s probably a lot more history about St. Bartholomew’s but I’m going to leave it there before everyone falls asleep. (Editor: Might be a bit late for that already.)


Andrew said...

I too doubt the interior has changed much. There was no one in it then and no one in it now.

Anonymous said...

Brian? Where are you? Hello?

History Hunter said...

He's been gone a very long time hasn't he ?! We are placing bets on the Thornton Forum about when his first post will be and we're on our second attempts as the first deadlines past already.

Jayne said...

Gorgeous church!

Melanie, I think you'd best send out the St Bernard dogs for him, with those little brandy barrels filled to the brim!