Saturday, 15 August 2015

Maperton, Somerset

Maperton felt like it was a long way down winding roads in the Somerset countryside. The church is next to a massive and grand manor house, and you have to stride up a dank little lane at the side of it. The church itself is pretty Victorian and a bit sterile, but it's got a couple of things that more than make up for that.

The first is in the porch - it's a carved Anglo-Saxon stone. The design is pretty freeform though not entirely unsymmetrical. It had some of that 'line-down-the-centre' going on that truly smacks of Saxon-ness. Its weird shape maybe suggests it was an arm of a cross. But who knows. It's not like it's the shape it seems in the drawing - the shape is set into a rectangular bit of stone. You can see a photo on 'Somerset Heritage' which shows what I mean. Also, I liked to imagine there was a Bitey Creature in the bottom right corner. But I think that may have been overimagination caused by a faintly eye-like dint.

And here is something we weren't expecting, which was just superb and one of those lovely and strange extras which make our visits especially rewarding. It was billed in the church blurb as "a minute face" and it was set into the interior of the tower. It was full of character and had an ancient and curious air. You can see a photo on the CRSBI website. Naturally I don't want to denigrate their Serious Objectivity but their description misses the numinosity of the carving. I liked the Minute Face a lot.

The CRSBI also have a picture of the font at Maperton, which they have down as romanesque, but I'm not hugely excited by it. Octagonal and plain doesn't shout Norman era at me, though the base looks pretty convincing. Hark at me eh.

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