Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Flax Bourton, North Somerset

There is a rule of Sculpture Seeking, viz. that if you come to a T junction in a village, you are more likely to take the direction away from the church you're looking for, regardless of how much logic and deliberation you apply. So it was when we finally rolled into Flax Bourton (that we had already been lost was entirely down to my overconfidence in navigating roads out of Bristol).

So when we arrived at the church on this hot day I was already a bit flustered and irritable. The church is right on the main road - probably the closest to a road that we've ever seen. It's got a wall built in front of the door so you can't walk out into the juggernauts (and previously the horses and carriages). Someone has paid for a rather nice glass door to seal the porch off from the noise and pollution. Seeing this, I foolishly thought that it might mean a warm welcome.

No, it didn't. The door was locked. I could lean on the glass and squint under my spread fingers to try and look in without reflections. I could even see the carving. But the door was locked.

I just want to ask, WHY? If you don't want people to steal all the presumed gold candlesticks in the church, why not lock them away like all the other churches we visit? But even if you lock the church itself, why can't people even get into the porch? Is Flax Bourton really the centre of an international crime ring focused on church porches? No-one can even get into the porch to read the noticeboard. I know I'm a heathen and you might only want to let in good members of the congregation that come to services on a Sunday - fair enough. But mightn't Christians want to pop in at other times?

I was disappointed.

We went to the stone circles at Stanton Drew instead. They were fully accessible.

You can see photos on Deborah Harvey's blog. She gets a bit carried away and calls them Saxon - I think as they match so many things we've seen, they're almost certainly Norman. She shows there are more lovely carvings inside the church - not least a cat and a winged legless dragon (these are also misbilled as Saxon). The latter is the first we'd have seen in my recollection. I think it's called an Amphiptere. It would have been an exciting moment. Here's a picture of one to make up for all that disappointment.

From Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art by J Vineycomb.

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