Posts tagged ‘Churches Conservation Trust’

Churches Project No.23 – Inglesham, an ancient wonder

As I entered through the south door of this 13th Century church I felt as if I had been transported back in time. Ancient, peaceful, unspoilt and lacking any discernible recent restoration, the church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham in Wiltshire is an exquisite wonder.


In the south wall the carving is thought to date back to Saxon times. It depicts Madonna with the hand of God pointing down to her child.


To the right of the main door and lining the south and north aisles are carved timber screens dating from the 15th or early 16th century.

To the left of the entrance is the 15th century font which was originally painted. Between 1589 and 1840 the parish registry records over 500 baptisms.

The box pews are from the 17th and 18th century. It was traditional for farming families to occupy their own box pew for services.

The nave appears to date from the early 13th century. The floor is formed of uneven slabs. At the end of the nave where it joins the chancel there is a huge stone with the indentation of an unknown knight.

Turn round, face East and you are greeted with the splendid sacristy, arguably the finest feature of the church. The painted walls and inscription which are 7 layers thick in places are an absolute delight.

For a colour version of the above photograph please click here and read my previous post.

As you walk around this medieval building, historic details reveal themselves. For example this round metal holder which after the reformation would have held an hour glass to regulate the length of a sermon. Sermons often lasted 2 or 3 hours in the late 16th and 17th century, so the preacher would ask for ‘one more turn’ of the glass! If the sermon went on for 3 or even 4 hours then it entailed ‘turn after turn’ which may be based on the principle that ‘one good turn deserves another’.

When making images my aim is always to capture the true essence and special atmosphere of the place. I rejoice in the fact that it remains open daily to the public and has been maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust since 1979. In fact we have to thank William Morris, the designer, novelist and conservation campaigner who in 1887 recognised the importance of this church. He successfully raised sufficient funds so that works could be undertaken ensuring that the building did not fall into ruin. This very act secured its survival to the present day.

Although it’s the interior that holds the greatest appeal the exterior of the church is well worth photographing too.

With the exception of a few notices and leaflets about the Churches Conservation Trust, St John the Baptist Church is a timeless joy and long may it stay that way. I spent about 4 hours looking around and taking photographs. During my visit 3 small groups of other people came through the door, but they didn’t spend more than 15 minutes inside. A pity, as I doubt they could have truly absorbed and fully appreciated the special atmosphere in such a short period of time. I considered myself fortunate as I virtually had the place to myself. Tranquility, sanctuary and ancient history all rolled together into a delightful experience and most rewarding afternoon.

Churches Project No.22 – The Sacristry at St John The Baptist, Inglesham.


Regular visitors to this site will know that one of my passions are medieval churches. The older the better and preferably with little or no restoration; preserving original features and in so doing retaining a true sense of history. I like to enter a church and be transported back time. To feel part of its story and to enjoy the peace and solitude these places bring to a busy and chaotic world.

For some considerable time I have wanted to visit the 13th century church of St John the Baptist in Inglesham, which lies to the north of Swindon in Wiltshire. Earlier this week I spent the best part of 4 hours exploring the church, finding compositions and releasing the shutter. This one photograph of the sacristy fully justfies the 200 mile round trip.  This is the only image I have made so far. In time I will process others and write a more in depth post.

My Instagram (alan_frost_photography) profile states – ‘An eclectic mono photographer with occasional colour lapses.’ This is one such occasion. The wall paintings date from the 14th century and in some places are seven layers deep. Just glorious.

Do click on the image to enjoy and appreciate a larger version which will open in a new window.



Churches Project no 20 – St Cuthbert’s Old Church, Oborne

St Cuthberts's Old Church-3

This tiny church in Dorset was built in 1533 and has historical and religious connections with Sherborne Abbey, which lies to the west. The name Oborne derives from the Old English words, woh and burna, and means a crooked stream. Although the above photograph would suggest a tranquil rural setting, the church is actually sited alongside the A30, a fairly busy road between Yeovil and Shaftesbury.

St Cuthberts's Old Church

The rustic simplicity of the church and the lovely light appealed to me, which resulted in these two internal pictures.

St Cuthberts's Old Church-2

I am particularly drawn to the light but also to studies of one aspect of a church interior. I don’t wish to record or capture everything in the one frame, and for this reason the image above of the light coming in through the open door and illuminating the altar rail and step appeals to me.

Like so many of these small, rural churches it is no longer used for regular parish worship and is cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust.


Churches Project no 18 – St Botolphs, Botolphs, West Sussex


A gate and pathway lead up to St Botolph’s Church


The Church of St Botolph’s stands in a small hamlet to the south of Steyning, in West Sussex. It lies close to the River Adur and is virtually on the South Downs Way, so many walkers stop to take a rest and enjoy the peace and solitude of this ancient building. It’s a lovely setting with just a few houses for company, although 700 years ago it was at the heart of a bustling port and crossing place of the river. At one time it was known as St. Peter de Vetrie Ponte (St Peter of the Old Bridge). The church has its origins in Saxon times and is believed to date from 950. Large parts of the original church can still be seen today including the tall chancel arch and the south wall of the nave. This is another church maintained and cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust, so whilst still consecrated is rarely used for worship.



A simple cross in a window in the Saxon south wall of the nave.



Organ stops



A large Crucifix hangs on the chancel arch which dates back to Saxon times.



Looking up at Christ with the ancient Saxon wall as a backdrop.


A note for regular readers – I am very aware that I have not posted an entry relating to my ‘Churches Project’ for at least a couple of months. That doesn’t mean I have lost my enthusiasm; to the contrary, my desire to visit and photograph these historical and remote places of worship is just as great as it has ever been. Time though is limited and the summer months are not necessarily the best time of year to take exterior photographs, as the lighting can be very harsh. I am sure the autumn and winter will rectify the situation and normal service will soon be resumed!

As always do click on any of the images to view a larger version which will open in a new window.






Churches Project no. 15 – St Andrew, Winterborne Tomson, Dorset

Winterborne Tomson Church-2


For such a small and simple church, there is so much to admire and enjoy here. For starters the very location of St Andrew in the tiny hamlet of Winterborne Tomson is a delight. Rural and unspoilt, the church backs onto a dairy farm and I like the way the farm building behind the church echoes the shape of the church itself. There is a manor house on the other side of the narrow road which leads down to the church plus a thatched cottage for neighbours.


Winterborne Tomson Church-3


Winterborne Tomson Church-4


It’s not until you enter through the west door that the simple beauty of this church reveals itself. Built of flint and stone in the 12th Century, this single cell church has a most unusual apsidal east end with a plastered wagon roof of slender beams and decorative bosses. All the bleached oak furnishings which include box pews, the pulpit and sounding board above, the screen and altar rail, have turned silver grey over the years. They date from the 18th Century and were provided by William Wake, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1716 to 1737. He would worship in this church when staying with his family who lived nearby. Apparently he loved the simplicity of the church compared to the grandeur and opulence of the cathedrals. I can empathise with his feelings and for me this place reminded me of another church in Warminghurst in West Sussex which you can read about here.


Winterborne Tomson Church-5


Winterborne Tomson Church-8


Winterborne Tomson Church-6


Winterborne Tomson Church-7


It’s hard to believe that less than 100 years ago the church was used by the local farm for pigs, fowl and other animals, but very fortunately was saved from complete ruin in 1931. Money was raised from the sale of some Thomas Hardy manuscripts by the The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and this was used to pay for much needed repairs. The work was overseen by the architect A R Powys, who was Secretary to the Society. On his death he was buried in the churchyard and a plaque can be seen inside the church, commemorating his work. Given its history it’s perhaps no surprise that this church is now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust, and whilst still consecrated, is only used on a handful of occasions during the year.


Winterborne Tomson Church-10


Winterborne Tomson Church-1


Lastly and to put this church in the context of its setting I have included an image taken just yards form the church itself.


Winterborne Tomson Church-9


Dorset is providing a rich source of lovely churches, so I will certainly be back there in the future so that I can add to my ‘Churches Project’ collection.

Do click on any of the images to view a larger version in a new window.