Sunday, 21 June 2015

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

I had to sit quite close to this amazing church to draw it, hence the kind of distorted angles. It's the opposite side to this view. It's been so long since I've visited. This place is amazing though, it has such atmosphere inside. And as for outside - it's like the building has been transported through time and just plopped into Bradford on Avon. It's quite strange to look at the distinctively Saxon arches and think 'they're actually real'. In most places you get a mere hint of surviving saxon-ness. Here, you get the whole package. Which is not to say that it hasn't been messed with here and there - what would you expect in 1000+ years. I suppose the building must have benefitted from the mysterious camouflaging that resulted in its surprise rediscovery in Victorian times.

Great English Churches has an excellent page about this special place.

These are the Anglo Saxon angels which are now high up in the church. I'd love to have been able to draw them myself but I'd worn myself out by then :) These drawings are in 'Early Christian Symbolism' by J. Romilly Allen.

splodgy painting copyright Rhiannon 2015

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Compton Greenfield, South Gloucestershire

Compton Greenfield church is no distance from the M5 and the huge queues of traffic for the Catbrain Temple of Consumerism (Cribbs Causeway). But it feels a world away. It's my favourite sort of church spot really, up a long dead-end road, in amongst fields. The churchyard had a big rose garden and smelt lovely. The church wasn't open but the superb door is in the open porch so all was ok.

This is the slightly mind-boggling pattern around the door:

This was much more complicated than I'd expected. It seems pretty impressive for an out-of-the-way small church. I like the irregularity of the chevrons even though the repetitiveness is so fundamental.

I'd picked this place for my visit because I'd heard it had 'reptilian creatures' - in fact, it's got four, one each side of the door and two guarding the outside of the porch. It seems rather grand to have four of them.

This one's outside and seems a bit toothier than the pair in the porch. I wondered if they could be later copies but the outside columns have a scalloped Norman look to them so maybe the headstops are completely real. All four have these cute little curly horns - I don't think I've seen that touch anywhere else before. They're reminiscent of some beakheads we've seen, I can just imagine them biting the arch at somewhere like Chirton.

Above is the design on the capital on the right of the door. It's got the decorative holes that I'm sure we've seen elsewhere. And even a bit of intertwining which is reminiscent of Saxon knotwork. And of course the nice fingery fans (which must have an official name if only I knew it). The design on the other capital almost has a face derived from these. But I think that might be my imagination.

And this is my rendering of the inside right-hand creature with his big ears and starey eyes.

I found an old photo of the doorway in Memorials of Old Gloucestershire (1911) - the article is by Mr Keyser, writer of a book about carved Norman tympana (I'm sure B will be pleased, and I personally feel like his devotee. How strange this Norman carving obsession is, but how nice it is to find someone else who felt the same, albeit 100 years ago). I think the article will give me plenty of further Leads.

Looking at the map, I guess this church is on the route between Bristol and where people might have crossed the Severn to get to and from Wales. Though I'm not sure why that would have made it more likely to have fancy carvings. Maybe that's irrelevent. Who knows.

Images © Rhiannon 2015