Someone once said that one of the most precious inheritances of our country is our ancient Parish Churches and I am fortunate that I only have a short walk to the top of our village to appreciate how true these words are.
It is not actually known how old our village Church is, but the first mention of there being a Church here is in documents that date back to 1253. It appears that our little Church had connections with an important Abbey about 15 miles away and it is fairly certain that it was served in ancient days by monks from the Abbey, this probably happened well over three hundred years ago and it is believed that parts of the present building were built by them, though one likes to think that there are stones in the present building which were first used in the original building from way back in 1200’s
Our little Church is small, simple but very beautiful, and sitting as it does in an elevated position at the top of the village, it commands breathtaking views of both mountains and the sea. No wonder the people of old called the ground around the ancient Cathedrals and Churches ‘God’s Acre’. Surveying the vista from our little Church one feels for sure that it is set in one of God’s acres.
Our village Church has stood the test of time and been hallowed by prayers and praises of saints through the ages, but it is doubtful if it would be well-known today but for its famous Rood Loft and Screen.
The Loft and Screen are quite magnificent, exquisitely carved with flowers, leaves, vines and berries. Legend has it that it once belonged to the Abbey and, at the time when King Henry VIII was suppressing the Monasteries in 1536 it was taken from the Abbey to our remote village Church for safe keeping where it was unlikely to be found by King Henry’s snoopers. No doubt it was hoped that one day it would be returned to the Abbey.
There is more mystery that surrounds the Loft and Screen, for one wonders how it got here, was it carried by the Monks the shortest route over the mountain, or was it was floated by sea from the Abbey around the coast and then carried the short distance to its final resting place of today. Personally, I think taking it by sea would have been the easier route. For decades experts have settled on this theory, however, there is another which village people like to muse on and that is, this magnificent Loft and Screen was carved by some local craftsman from the area. Whatever the true facts are we will never know, be it enough that we have such a breathtaking treasure amongst us that some genius craftsman created in 13th 14th or 15th century. The Rood Loft and its Screen is probably the most famous and most beautiful piece of wood carving to be seen anywhere and I think its even more amazing when I stand in wonder looking at its magnificence, and realise this was created with a mere chisel and mallet.
Click on the pictures to enlarge, however, I’m disappointed that my photographs don’t show the details as they really are.
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