Friday 11 March 2022

Little Sampford

The world is too much with me just now, getting and spending – well, spending anyway. I had never realised quite how complicated, frustrating and mystifying a process it would be, taking possession of a small flat and dealing with utility companies, all of which, like so many other once solid things, seem to exist only in cyberspace. A telephone conversation with a broadband supplier, as represented by an obliging young lady whose first language was clearly not English, took up over an hour of my time yesterday and by the end of it I was drained and fast losing the will to live. Then there's all the stuff required to furnish and equip said flat. As I'm also feeling the effects of what might be a mild but weirdly attenuated version of Omicron (though I've never tested positive) – effects that are most definitely not conducive to intellection – I am seeking out images rather than words for my consolation. Edward Bawden, always so cheering and so cheeringly English, fits the bill nicely. Above is his watercolour of Little Sampford church, near Saffron Walden, a lovely, unimposing Essex church of flint and stone rubble, with a little brick. It was built mostly in the fourteenth century, the tower in two stages, probably punctuated by the Black Death. The chancel was rebuilt in the fifteenth century, along with the North porch, and the brick South porch was added in the seventeenth, when the nave roof was also renewed. The church has a splendid Perpendicular West window and a fine screen. Essex has a wealth of churches at least as attractive and interesting as this – it doesn't make it into Simon Jenkins's Thousand Best Churches – but its quiet charm is perfectly caught in Bawden's painting. 
  There is also an interesting monument – a free-standing affair showing one Bridget Peck, who died in 1712, reclining more or less at her ease, blank-eyed in the manner of the time, with an open book in her lap. It's not a bad piece of work (sculptor unknown), but seems to be in a sorry state...

Here is an extract from her epitaph: 'She was a mother wise as SHE WAS FRUITFUL, INDEED AT HER DECEASE SHE LEFT 2 SONS & 8 DAUGHTERS, and to this task, she exercised herself with no little success, WHICH HAD TIME ALLOWED WOULD HAVE BECOME GREATER STILL. In these pursuits engaged, neither desirous, nor yet fearful of the grave, only ripened for heaven and observant of its counsels, being 31 years of age, she died on the 14th day of June in the year of Our Lord 1712.'
Fruitful indeed, poor woman. 

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