Sunday 28 April 2013

Essex Beauties

Well, the Essex walk was fine - not the Dengie Hundred, but the Five Parishes, a cluster of parish churches (and pubs) in rich rolling country near Dunmow. The stars were St Mary, Tilty (pictured), an extraordinary cut-and-shut job, with a simple Early English nave and a grand, wholly out-of-scale Decorated chancel with a huge, beautifully reticulated East window, glazed in clear glass, flooding the interior with light.  And St Mary, Little Easton, which looks unpromising and over-restored from the outside, but inside is a treasure house, with everything from medieval wall paintings to a jewelled Art Nouveau plaque by Alfred Gilbert in memory of Ellen Terry, by way of a grand set of monuments from the early 15th to the late 17th century, some ghastly stained glass in a memorial chapel to the American bombers stationed here during the war, and a brilliant, thoroughly unchurchy portrait bust (by Edward Boehm) of Frances, Countess of Warwick in her heyday as a stunner - not to mention various memorials of the parish's 'Rocking Reverend', Jack Filby, whose gravestone is fittingly carved with a guitar. And the last church on the walk, St Mary, Chickney, a modest but wonderfully atmospheric little church, with every angle of its structure slightly askew, standing remote from any village, amid deep rural silence - broken only by the occasional pop of a pigeon scarer, and the odd Stansted Airport plane.
  Once again, as after any of these walks, I am left marvelling at how much there is to see, how much of history and beauty and quietness survives in this over-populated, concreted, built-over land of ours - even hard by an international airport and a motorway.

1 comment:

  1. I see that Essex Beauties is also the name of a spray tanning service based (oddly) in Bedford. I hope they're grateful for the free publicity - surely worth a free spray tan...