SU6396 : Church of St Mary, Chalgrove - the bier and parish chest

taken 5 years ago, near to Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, Great Britain

Church of St Mary, Chalgrove - the bier and parish chest
Church of St Mary, Chalgrove - the bier and parish chest
In the south aisle - see description below.
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Chalgrove
The present church can be traced back to around 1160 when the present nave and a now replaced chancel were built. The south aisle was added around 1190 in transitional style, retaining the plain circular columns and square capitals of late Norman style, but with pointed arches. The north aisle arcade dates from around 1240.

The chancel was rebuilt between 1319 and 1328, in the Decorated style, and is considered unusual for the period, with hints of continental influence. This is displayed to best effect in the combined piscina and sedilia on the south side which also show craftsmanship of the highest quality.

The jewel of the chancel is undoubtedly the series of wall paintings based on the life of dedicatee of the church, the Virgin Mary, including some aspects of the life of Jesus, and including saints associated with her. These are contemporary with the chancel, and represent one of the most complete sets of medieval wall paintings in the country. They present a wonderful example of how so many churches would have looked before the Reformation.

In 1547 King Edward VI issued an injunction requiring all wall paintings (among other items) to be removed. In the case of Chalgrove, this was done by covering them with limewash, rather than destroying them, and they remained hidden until the restorations of the mid 19th century. Fortunately the Rector at that time, the Rev. R Lawrence, recognised their value, ensured that they were recorded and left exposed to view. (In so many cases, similar paintings were almost certainly destroyed during the course of Victorian restorations.) They have been subject to successively improved restoration techniques in the following 150 years.

The font, pulpit and chancel rails all date from the 1660s following the restoration of Charles II and the reversion from Puritanism to the rayerbook Anglican rite. There is also in the south aisle the parish bier, dated 1668, which supports the parish chest. This is adorned with studs with the date 1674 and the initials TK and FG (presumably the churchwardens), although it is believed to date from around 1500.

Of the outside of the church, the notable feature is the tower. This dates from the same rebuilding as produced the south aisle, c.1190, although the upper stage is later, contemporary (c.1240) with the north aisle. There are suggestions that it once carried a spire, but these appear to be misreadings of contemporary documents referring to the collapse of 'the steeple' in 1727. However, the word was commonly used to describe any tower, with or without a spire, and there are no other references to a spire. On the north face is square-lozenge single-hand clock face, dated 1863. The clock itself dates from the 1690s, although modified at some stage late from a 30 hour to an 8 day cycle. The 1863 date refers to one of the many restorations.

Many of the windows in the aisle were remodelled in the 15th century in Perpendicular style.

Unsurprisingly, this fine church is Listed Grade I. Much of the information is taken from the excellent series of guides available in the church itself.
Listed Buildings and Structures
Listed buildings and structures are officially designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance. There are over half a million listed structures in the United Kingdom, covered by around 375,000 listings.
Listed status is more commonly associated with buildings or groups of buildings, however it can cover many other structures, including bridges, headstones, steps, ponds, monuments, walls, phone boxes, wrecks, parks, and heritage sites, and in more recent times a road crossing (Abbey Road) and graffiti art (Banksy 'Spy-booth') have been included.

In England and Wales there are three main listing designations;
Grade I (2.5%) - exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important.
Grade II* (5.5%) - particularly important buildings of more than special interest.
Grade II (92%) - nationally important and of special interest.

There are also locally listed structures (at the discretion of local authorities) using A, B and C designations.

In Scotland three classifications are also used but the criteria are different. There are around 47,500 Listed buildings.
Category A (8%)- generally equivalent to Grade I and II* in England and Wales
Category B (51%)- this appears generally to cover the ground of Grade II, recognising national importance.
Category C (41%)- buildings of local importance, probably with some overlap with English Grade II.

In Northern Ireland the criteria are similar to Scotland, but the classifications are:
Grade A (2.3%)
Grade B+ (4.7%)
Grade B (93%)

…read more at wikipedia LinkExternal link
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SU6396, 82 images   (more nearby )
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Wednesday, 9 July, 2014   (more nearby)
Thursday, 17 July, 2014
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Village, Rural settlement  Religious sites 
Period (from Tags)
17th Century  Early 16th Century 
Primary Subject of Photo
Church Interior 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SU 6371 9655 [10m precision]
WGS84: 51:39.8476N 1:4.8156W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SU 6371 9655
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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Other Tags
Funeral Bier  Parish Chest 

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