Thursday, May 27, 2010

The old church at Tur Langton

I have shown you the Victorian St Andrew's church in Tur Langton, but there is an intriguing note in Pevsner:
Of the church demolished when the new one was begun, no more remains than the N doorway, single-chamfered, of the C13. It is in a field to the NW of the manor house.
And here it is, easily found under horse chestnut trees beside a bridleway.

The Victoria County History has more about the old church:

A view of the building as it existed in 1791 shows it to have consisted of nave, chancel, south porch, and a west bell-cote with space for two bells. The appearance of the nave would be consistent with a late-13th-century rebuilding, while the only visible chancel window might have been of the 14th century or later. The chancel roof was steeply pitched but the nave roof appears to have been flattened. A string course at sill level was stepped down on the west wall of the nave as if to accommodate a large west window at some period. The south porch was a later addition.

In the 17th century there was a bell-cote with one bell at the west end. In 1619 the archdeacon reported that the man 'who is hired by the year to keep the windows' had stopped them up with sticks in some places and had mended the east window of the chancel with sticks instead of bars of iron.

Despite the hot weather, as I looked at the old church I had Sandy Denny's "Bushes and Briars" (which I had already chosen as the next day's video) on my mind:
I wonder if he knows I'm here,
Watching the briars grow.
And all these people beneath my shoes,
I wonder if they know.
There was a time when every last one,
Knew a clergy's chosen man.
Where are they now?
Thistles and thorns,
Among the sand.
But in fact there was never a burial ground here. The County History says "In 1832 an attempt was made to have the field in which the old church stood consecrated as a burial ground, but the parishioners were unwilling to lose the rent which the field brought to parish funds." Leicestershire village life has not changed much.

Still, the horse chestnuts are spectacular and would be worth a photograph even without the church ruins beneath them. Leicestershire & Rutland Churches has a photograph of those ruins taken in winter, and it is even more Sandy Denny.

1 comment:

Philip M Ward said...

According to Sandy Denny's own account, the churchyard that inspired the song was at Shipton-on-Cherwell. She was recording at The Manor, Richard Branson's residential studio, and came across the vicar with no congregation at the local church. Must pay a visit one day!