Saturday, 26 March 2016

Fab days out Part 1

Planning a day out on a cold, dull day last weekend with overnight guests was challenging. The trip needed to be interesting, not too far from Swindon, with a pub lunch part way through the day.
Having visited Fairford church before and knowing it's one of the best examples of  ancient stained glass in the country, I thought we should go there, but we needed a bit more to occupy the day. I've also visited Quenington church, and admired the stone carved door surrounds, so I put that on the list, surprised to find when I looked it up that Quenington is only 2 miles north of Fairford. It was then that I noticed the Heritage Ratings of the two churches were 4 out of a possible 5, and used it as a way of deciding where to go next. It's very easy when looking up historic churches, the nearest ones are listed when looking any churches up. So to complete the trip, we added the two Eastleach churches to the list.
I'll relive the trip via photos in the order in which we visited the places. Just as we were about to enter Fairford from Lechlade, there was a sign on the right indicating a historic church, so Rona did a quick swerve to the right and we followed the brown signs and ended up in Eastleach Turville where we parked and looked at St.Andrew's Church,
 Above the outside view, and below the interior of the church
 From St.Andrew's church, there's a short walk past a wonderful topiaried hedge to the church of St.Michael & St.Martin seen below

 from across the lovely river Leach where the water looked clean enough to drink, and surely there would be kingfishers?
 If you click on the links you can see why there were two churches in such close proximity, St Michael &St.Martin does not have electricity and holds services on special allocated days. It's rated with 4 Hs whereas Eastleach Turville has 3 Hs, you can see why when you enter the church and see that the transept has a five-light north window with delicate decorated tracery. Some of these windows contain medieval glass:
From the second church, we were able to walk to the river and along the bank, crossing the river at a fine example of a clapper bridge, isn't it lovely?
From there we drove to Quenington church where the day got duller
The main features of historical interest are two 12th century doors. The north door is carved with a depiction of the Harrowing of Hell, while the superb south door has the oldest known Coronation of the Virgin carving in Europe still in situ.
Above is the north door and below the south door.
Inside there's a commemoration of the church receiving the John Betjeman Award for repair and conservation of the north and south doorways in 1991. The painting is by John Piper of Inglesham church.
From there we drove to Fairford and had an excellent lunch at The Bull, I'd certainly recommend that for lunch when FSMAG visit Fairford church in June.
And so onto Fairford church, the first reason for our trip out:

I bought a guide and thoroughly enjoyed looking at the windows with greater understanding.
These two were my favourite, just glorious
There were also fabulous kneelers, all different, I particularly liked this one:
Just outside the door, as I left I noticed this lovely stone carved cat in the churchyard.
I'd certainly recommend that trip as a day out, and will try walking between the churches this summer.
If you'd like to come on a trip to Fairford church with a talk, the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery are going there on 4 June.

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