Saturday, 26 April 2014

Somerford Keynes, Gloucestershire

All Saints church has an amazing Anglo-Saxon doorway. It's been opened up and tastefully glazed. It looks beautiful from inside and makes the space light and superb.
You can almost imagine stepping through it into another time.

From the outside you can see the long-short arrangement of stones which is characteristic of Anglo-Saxon architecture. Over the doorway is an arch with a simple twisted rope design. It's very striking the way the stones are so chunky and yet the gap is so narrow. It sort of fits the shape of a person. It was difficult to see inside. This rather added to the Portal-like effect.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

Harnhill, Gloucestershire

This tympanum is over the door at St Michael and All Angels.

Maybe we're more likely to think that modern dragons have four legs. But all the ones my sister and I have come across seem to be the two legged, long-tailed variety. I'm guessing Welsh dragons and English dragons are actually different species. Here's a dragon getting abused by a sword-wielding St Michael (in his skirt). I say leave the poor creature alone. The carving is quite green with algae, but I don't think that detracts from its niceness.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

Ampney St Mary, Gloucestershire

These strange creatures are at the isolated church of Ampney St Mary. There's a photo of them on Bethan's blog here.

  In fairness it was just about to hammer down with rain, but I didn't position this so well on the page. They're some of my favourite creatures yet. One might be a lion with a tidy bottom and super elegant back legs. Another a griffin? They've both got the tail-under-leg thing going on. But what are those two creatures underneath! They've got kind of Cheshire Cat style faces. But strange maggoty legless bodies.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014 

South Cerney, Gloucestershire

The Norman door at All Hallows has it all. You could draw it for weeks. Rex Harris's photo illustrates the beaky creatures, the zig zags, some neat flowers, and some amazingly intricate patterns in the innermost arch. I thought the latter even smacked of something interlacey and Anglo-Saxon... I need to draw them to explore the patterns (have to go back).

The door jambs have an interesting beaded motif, rather like stone hinges. They form little shelves.

I love drawing vegetationy scrolls. They're so easily overlooked. But if you draw them, you really See them. And I enjoy that, I feel like I'm properly interacting with what the carvers intended, nearly a thousand years ago.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Whaddon, Wiltshire (a return)

From the doorway of St Mary the Virgin, Whaddon. 

This is the asymmetrical beaded design on the curved lintel / tympanum.

My pen and crayon drawings of the capitals

The detailed decoration of the capitals and abaci is quite different on the right and left columns.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

Monday, 21 April 2014

Little Langford, Wiltshire

The church of St Nicholas at Little Langford seems so tucked away. You have to get your Ordnance Survey out. But it's also right next to the Wessex main line railway, which you're reminded of when a little train thunders past now and again. But that can't spoil the peace. When we visited it was gloriously warm, we stood drawing with the sun warming our backs, and it was all extremely pleasant. It had a very welcoming and pleasant atmosphere. You can see the building on the Wiltshire Council website - it's cutely chequered in flint and limestone.

A digitally altered version of my pen sketch of the Norman tympanum. Under a zig-zag arch, a bishop stands next to three birds perched on a tree.

You can read a rather speculative article about the tympanum in the 1909/10 volume of WANHM.
There are some modern photos on Britain Express.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

Steeple Langford, Wiltshire

The brilliant square C12th font in All Saints church, Steeple Langford, has a different design on each side.


These strange faces are in two top corners of the font - this one has rather animally ears.
The other face seems to have a furrowed brow. The other two corners of the font have been damaged.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

Friday, 18 April 2014

Rodbourne, Wiltshire

The tympanum at the church of the Holy Rood, Rodbourne.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

Malmesbury, Wiltshire

The front of Malmesbury Abbey is quite spectacular. Trying to draw even a tiny part of it makes you appreciate something of how detailed and complicated it is.

This is a section of the arch that goes over the door (it's actually even wider).

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

Stanton St Quintin, Wiltshire

Curiously, the church in Stanton St Quintin isn't St Quintin's, it's St Giles'.

Outside, at the west end of the church, is a Romanesque carving of a someone with a saint toasting their toes on a dragon. It's probably not St Giles because he's usually seen with a deer (a hind). Perhaps it's St Michael or St George.  Technically it's not a dragon, it's a wyvern, because the creature only has front legs. I think it's quite sweet with its curly tail. But it's probably signifying Evil and Badness. Which seems a bit mean.

We're not so far from the amazing carvings at Malmesbury, and you can see their influence in the complicated drapery of the saint's outfit. He's not sitting quite as convincingly though, I don't think. But he's got hilarious little toes whatever.

Inside is the rather unusual font with its massive lumpy knobbles. Very solid and chunky.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

Friday, 4 April 2014

Biddestone, Wiltshire

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

North Wraxall, Wiltshire

St James's church in North Wraxall has a very zigzaggy chevroned doorway. It's got a little statue at the head of the arch, but it looked as though it had been inserted later than the Norman chevronage.

 Inside, the church is seriously skewiff. The floor was faintly frightening in its waviness. There were some faint medieval-looking paintings on the chancel arch. The maddest thing was an absolutely gigantic tomb for the Methuen family in the added-on chapel. There is a photo here on Wiltshire Council's website. It's about 4.5 feet high, immense, and completely out of keeping imo with the rest of the ancient building. It was carved by Richard Westmacott - there were three generations of sculptors called Richard Westmacott and I'm not sure yet which one was responsible.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014