Saturday, 24 October 2015

Swainswick, North-East Somerset

The church at Charlcombe was St Mary's, that at Langridge is St Mary Magdalene, and finally we were at Swainswick - also St Mary's for some reason. A clutch of Mary dedicated churches. Swainswick church is much bigger than the other two and feels divided into sections - the chancel, the nave, a bit under the tower, the Kitchen, the chapel... it had an unusual feel but a friendly feel. Visitors were urged to make themselves a cup of tea, and that was a very kind proposition I thought.

The Thing at Swainswick seems to be carved faces. There were two Norman ones as headstops on the bechevroned / saltire crossed doorway arch. There were also some inside around the foot of the tower, but they looked more recent (something to do with their beardy style made me think this).

The left headstop has an enigmatic expression, but the right hand one isn't sitting on the fence - he's blatantly sticking his tongue out between his teeth (not an easy expression to achieve, if you try and pull it yourself). They've both got wide flat noses, which were rather reminiscent of a carved head now in the chapel. This was apparently found in the churchyard at some point. It looks rather enigmatic as well. It's very simple, staring straight out. I can't help thinking of Celtic Heads and Anne Ross. But who knows what age it is.

Also in the chapel was a floor slab in memory of John Wood the Elder, no less than the creator of The Circus and the mineral water hospital in Bath (the Crescent was the work of his son). I thought it was rather illustrative of the nature of life and death that this famous architect should wind up with a rolled-up carpet on top of his grave. I toyed with moving the carpet but B was more stoical and hurried me on. He's not even there, she said.

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