Saturday, 8 August 2015

Longbridge Deverill, Wiltshire

St Peter and St Paul's church in Longbridge Deverill is rather hidden below the main road. It's some way from the rest of the village at the crossroads, but close by the lovely River Wylye.

Naturally we had come to see the super Norman font in its scallopy variety, but the church is jam-packed with unusual things and seems to have gathered some dubious piffle as lore. Call me a cynic, but for example, the idea that Thomas Becket himself had carved some crosses on the altar seems a bit much - I'm sure he had things to do in Canterbury. And also "I read on the internet" that a tree in the churchyard is a cutting from the Glastonbury Thorn, which would be very cool, but I can't find any collaborating information for it anywhere.

The church also sports this thoroughly gruesome font by Alfred Gilbert, the sculptor who carved 'Eros' in Picadilly. I'd rather stick with the original one. And there are several bright and gilded screens which look like something out of a theatre production (I do kind of apologise for being so dismissive of these interesting historical artefacts). We opened the door in one of them with trepidation... a vacuum cleaner and the tea-making equipment lay mundanely within.

On the font, the scallops are all carved differently, with straightforward and bold designs. In places there are little faces nestling between the scallops. It's lovely.

While we were drawing, two women from the Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust arrived and noodled round the church just as we had done. I thought for a moment we were seeing our future selves. But when they came over they pulled a look of confusion and asked the classic question "What ARE you doing??" as though seeing two people hunched over their sketchbooks wielding pens and crayons wasn't self-evident. Thus we knew they could not see the exciting attractions of the scallops and that they were Lost.

So I tried to evangelise, but I think it turned out they were trying to convert us instead - indeed, why wouldn't we be interested in joining the Trust. The trouble is, I'm like Groucho Marx and would refuse to join any club that would have me as a member. And besides, I'm not sure it's for me if drawing Norman fonts wouldn't be at the top of their list of activities.

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