Saturday, 5 May 2012

Gargoyles, Imps and Hobbits

I have to admit that I'm of no particular religious persuasion but that doesn't stop me being interested in all sorts of religions and the wonderful architecture that seems to go hand in hand with it.
Winchcombe has a wide variety of churches.....really wide.....but St Peter's as a building, stands out. As you drive over the crest of Cleeve Hill, leaving Cheltenham You breath a sigh of relief as you drive down into the valley and see the golden cockerel on top of St Peters Church.  Its on the main thoroughfare through the town and along with lots of lovely shops, pubs, galleries and Cafes...its well worth stopping and having a look. Back Lane car park is a £1 all day,so you'll have time to walk up Vineyard Street and up to Sudeley Castle.
In 1175 there was a church dedicated to St Peter but it was ruined at the same time as the Abbey. The present building was built in 1468. Although some people believe that it is not a wool church I like to think that it was because that was originally where all the money came from.
Of course recently it was in the news for Liz Hurley having her marriage blessed in it....lots in the OK magazine and lots of upset due to her having kneelers made when the church really needed an old boiler replaced .......!...anyway leading on the church has fantastic Grotesques and gargoyles..at least forty...maybe cartoon portraits of locals, priests, landlords..who knows. Some think that this one was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's The Mad Hatter.

 It would be great if it had been ,it would add to the literary giants linked with the area such as Tolkien , Hobbits and Humblebee woods, and J.M.Barrie a,Tinkerbell and Stanway. The weather cock is also rather magnificent measuring 6foot from beak to tail . It came from the Church of St Mary, Redcliffe Bristol in 1872.....I don't know why they didn't want to keep it, It's lovely. There are a few tails of it having gun shot holes in it because of a local farmer, who shall remain nameless...you know who you are....having pot shots at it ! There is also the story of Mr Ford of the car fame wanting to buy the whole church, dismantle it and take it back to America .
Inside the church is a frame with a curtain protecting an old alter cloth . It was made by Queen Katherine of Aragon by reconstructing a 14th century Cope....recycling even then.!
If you do visit , don't forget to look for the Winchcombe Imp., that's the one inside as oppose to all the Winchcombe Imps outside !
I've made a little video made up of photographs of the interior and exterior of St Peter's church, complete with the sound of their Wednesday night bell ringing practice.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp3wAjggM_c

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