Saturday, August 16, 2014
Oasis, or Odd things in churches (7)
There are certain churches that I like to return to every now and then. They are mostly small and often remote or in villages that are off the beaten track in places like Herefordshire or Gloucestershire. They are usually old and quiet and though (as with Abbey Dore or Kilpeck) they may be architectural treasures, it is often atmosphere and peace as much as architecture that occupy me – these qualities take me back, for example, to Dunitsbourne Rouse or Inglesham, places where the combination of isolation and layers of history suggest that they have been oases of calm for hundreds of years.
Hoarwithy, J P Seddon’s great Byzantine-revival church in Herefordshire, is starting to become another of these places. There is not much to beat the way its square sandstone pyramid-topped tower rises out of the landscape, so that, if you look the right way, you can imagine yourself in Tuscany or the Veneto talking not of a bell-tower but of a campanile. Mosaics, tessellated flooring, carved capitals, and hanging lamps fulfil the promise inside.
I nearly called this post ‘Sad things in churches’, because it is sad, when buckets and vases have to be pressed into service to catch rain. But as I sat in the nave and pondered this state of affairs and savoured the quiet, I remembered that the water-absorbing floral foam in the vase is also known by the name of Oasis. Reminded once more of those oases of calm, I hoped that dryness would be restored as soon as possible, stuck a donation in the alms box, and went, quietly, on my way.
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My earlier post about this church, here, provides some more architectural detail, and a couple of different photographs.