Saturday, 19 August 2017

Fairford, Great Coxwell and Uffington White Horse

What in the world is happening when a Church is having, like, a service or something and tourists can't get inside to explore the moment they arrive?

We had to go for a coffee instead. 


But it was worth waiting because this is no ordinary Church. This is St Mary the Virgin, Fairford, Gloucestershire ...





... and behind this door is the only complete* collection of mediaeval church glass in the country. I'd visited beforebut it was the first time Offspring the Eldest had seen it. 










I was determined to get a feel for the church as a whole this time instead of fixating on the windows ...






... but failed.  


It's that West window's fault, with its dull and ordered Salvation and really rather thrilling demons. 











*Well, they say 'complete' but the top section, Christ sitting in Judgement, is a Victorian replacement.












After all that hell and damnation we'd worked up an appetite, so headed off to Great Coxwell for a picnic by the barn.


I first heard of Great Coxwell Barn through my interest in William Morris. 


It was his favourite building, and he often took visitors to see it when they came to stay at nearby Kelmscott Manor. 

It's taken a while to get here myself. 


Great Coxwell Barn was originally part of a monastic grange. Dendrochronological analysis dates its construction to 1292.
Morris called it 'unapproachable in its dignity, as beautiful as a cathedral, yet with no ostentation of the builder's art'. 


I was pleased to see that SPAB (the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings), which Morris founded, engraved his name and dates on the door in 1996, on the 100th anniversary of his death.








Coincidentally, a sumtyme fermer called William Morys died in Cokyswell in 1509. 


I wonder if it was he who carved these initials in the pillar. 


There are other interesting examples of graffiti in the building. Apotropaic hexafoils for a start ...


... and tally marks ... 


... and masons' marks.


I hadn't told Offspring the Eldest our ultimate destination before we set out, but the pub we stopped at gave the game away.


And here it is for real, the Uffington White Horse.


When I'd visited before, we'd been able to sit on the horse itself, but now fears of erosion means that it has been temporarily fenced off. 


We still had a beautiful wander along the ridge, however. 


A sit in the late afternoon sun, watching what my friend Andy thinks was probably a hobby hovering at head height over the side of the hill before walking back to the car in a shower of swallows. A good day. 
















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