This is part of the GEOGUESSR 1 series of posts.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to enter the town’s main church although it later transpired we visited during the church’s opening times. It’s a shame, it’s one of the most complex buildings that I’ve seen in terms of trying to understand it from its exterior.
I have a lot of unanswered questions about this church and I have no idea why they’ve locked and blocked off part of the graveyard (I poked my camera through the gate to take this photo).
That’s the south chapel on the left, the nave in the centre and the chancel on the right. The south chapel is thirteenth century, but something has clearly gone wrong with the structure as there are buttresses propping it up on the left hand side which are from the fourteenth century. I’ll make no comment about civil engineers as Liam will see this.
I didn’t pay much attention to this at the time, but the chancel isn’t level with the nave, it’s off-centre and located to the northern end of the nave. This is apparently due to the Reformation interfering with the plans of the church, although it’s given it a quirky appearance.
A better view of the buttresses against the side of the church, as well as a door built into a window (could they really not have put that door anywhere else?).
I don’t understand this, this is a nineteenth century chimney and it’s out of place and seems a bizarre addition to have made. Or at least the top is a chimney, the middle bit could almost be rood stairs, but they’re in the wrong place as they’re now where the chancel meets the nave (and there are three naves anyway, as well as the brickwork looking too late for rood stairs). Unfortunately, the church’s web-site says that the comprehensive history of the building is “coming soon”, so I can’t glean much from that at the moment.
I can’t explain what’s going on here.
I also have no idea why what appears to be a set of stairs to the top of the tower have been added on quite so late in the church’s history.
The northern side of the north chapel.
I found one story about this church which I did find amusing. In 1865, a marriage was taking place which was officiated by a vicar from Clacton who was standing in for the local vicar. The marriage ceremony was proceeding all very well and the vicar read out the “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse” section of the vows. The groom, who must have considered himself something of a wit, said “I’ll take her for better, but not for worse”. The vicar decided this wasn’t in keeping with the standards that he expected, so he slammed his book shut and walked out of the church, leaving a confused bride and groom to be at the altar. Marvellous.
Anyway, as I’m not a church historian, I can’t shed a great deal of light on this church. It’s a shame I’m not likely to come this way again soon, as I’d have liked to see inside, and also inside the churchyard. I don’t like the way that they’ve locked half of it off, although I’m sure that they must have a reason to have done that. But, it’s a magnificent church and I like that its history hasn’t been whitewashed away.