Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Minsterworth and St Mary's, Kempley

Having business in Gloucester, I took the scenic route. First stop, St Peter's Church in Minsterworth.
I was there to pay homage to the poet F W (Will) Harvey, another World War I poet and friend of Ivor Gurney. This is his grave. 

It's considerably less arty than the headstones afforded Gurney and Siegfried Sassoon - maybe because Harvey is less well known nationally. 


Inside the Church, though, is one of the most pleasing commemorative windows I think I've ever seen, by Graham Dowding of Nailsworth. 


I spent a happy ten minutes immersed in its detail, with its finely depicted wildlife and allusions to the trenches.  






The lines of poetry in the design are from 'A Gloucestershire Lad at Home and Abroad' 


Though you may see me not, yet hear
My laughter in the laughing streams,
My footsteps in the running rain. . .

For sake of all I counted dear
And visit still within my dreams

I shall at last come home again.



The Church at Minsterworth is very close to the River Severn - indeed, the mediaeval church was replaced by this pleasant Arts and Crafts-style building in 1870 because of the damage done by flood waters. Apparently, in 1852 the parish clerk sailed up the nave in a boat. I went to have a little peep from the flood defences, which were last breached in 2014. All quiet today. 


My second destination was the Norman Church of St Mary's in Kempley, some 14 miles sunnier, which dates from 1095. 


It has a picturesque 12th century porch of sagging oak ... 


... which partially obscures the carved Norman arch and Tree of Life tympanum ... 


... but its true glory are the mediaeval wall paintings which were uncovered in the 1870s under layers of whitewash.


The ones in the chancel are 12th century frescos painted onto wet plaster. 


They depict scenes from Revelations, centering on a Christ in Majesty surrounded by the symbols of the four evangelists. 


I liked the Apostles sitting in judgement down either side.


The murals in the nave date from the following century, and are in tempera painted on dry lime plaster.  
The Wheel of Life








And the roof timbers - which you can't see from the body of the church - are original to the building and the the oldest in the country. The south and west doors, too, date from this time. 













I'd hoped to get to the other Church, an Arts and Crafts treasure, in Kempley, but I'd run out of time. No matter, with Dymock and Brockhampton nearby, there's every reason to come back again soon. 

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