Saturday, April 26, 2014
Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
Kyrle’s green shoots, or, Odd things in churches (4)
Although one is used to seeing creepers and climbing plants of all sorts growing up the outer walls of buildings, it’s unusual to find them inside, but that’s what happens near the window at the east end of the north aisle in the parish church at Ross. These indoor creepers owe their presence to an ancient tradition.
In 1684, John Kyrle, who, known as the ‘Man of Ross’ had made numerous benefactions to his town, planted some elm trees in the churchyard. Some time later, after Kyrle had died, some shoots from one of the trees grew up through the floor of the north aisle and the parishioners, thinking it a good omen that a tree planted by the great man should be entering the church, let them be. They remained until the parent tree died and was felled in 1878.
These creepers were planted as replacements for Kyrle’s shoots and as a symbol of his good works in the town. Ross should need little reminder of their benefactor, though. Evidence of his works – a plaque in the town, his monument in the church, and enduring benefits such as the public garden known as the Prospect – survive as indications of his achievements.