Wednesday 19 July 2023

A Grand Short Crawl

 It has been a long time – or it certainly feels like one – since I did any church crawling, but today I had a short, hugely enjoyable church crawl, admittedly by car, but there's a lot to be said for that. Among the highlights were some remarkable monuments in St Peter, Elford (near Lichfield), including one known as 'the Stanley boy', commemorating the last male heir of the Elford Stanleys, killed by a tennis ball in 1460. He holds the ball in one hand and points to his ear with the other, illustrating the motto on the monument: 'Ubi dolor ibi digitus' (where the pain is, there is the finger, i.e. at the point of impact of the ball). This is a nice story, but there is every reason to believe it is a fabrication – see this demolition job by the ever scrupulous Church Monuments Society. However, I'm happy to print the legend. As for the other monuments, these are in astonishingly good condition – a fact that may owe something to the dubious Edward Richardson's repairs (the whole church was thoroughly Victorianised by Salvin and Street), but they look wonderful and are of very high quality. One of them, to Sir Thomas Arderne (an ancestor of Jacinda's?) and his wife, shows that display of 'stone fidelity' familiar from the famous Arundel tomb in Chichester Cathedral, the one that inspired Larkin's great poem: Sir Richard and his lady are 'holding hands'... 

After that, it was St Andrew's, Clifton Campville [below], one of the finest medieval churches in Staffordshire (albeit almost in Leicestershire), and on to St Editha's, Tamworth, one of the finest town churches in the county. Aah, it felt so good to be back in church crawling mode, if only for half a day.

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