Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Llandinabo, Herefordshire

Church woodwork, or, Odd things in churches (10)

I have made it part of the business of this blog to bring you the odd, the unusual, and the unexpected, and I’ve found that English churches sometimes contain the most unexpected things of all. Over the years we have had a fire engine, a ducking stool, and, particularly dear to me, Milner’s Patent Fire-resistant Safe. I didn’t expect to find anything odd at Llandinabo, a church I’d passed quite a few times before I got round to stopping there. I’d read that there was some interesting woodwork – a fine screen – in the church, but, just for fun, here’s a very different kind of woodwork that I also found.

There seemed to be nothing to tell me who’d made this matchstick model of the church, which stands on a window ledge inside the building it reproduces. It’s painstaking, reasonably accurate, and a joyous bit of English, or Welsh, eccentricity. (Llandinabo is in England, but, as the name signals, it’s not too far from the Welsh border.) The modeller has caught the pierced roof ridge tiles, the timber-framing of the bellcote, and the openwork wooden porch, although he (I feel sure it was a he) had trouble with reproducing the exact pointed shape of the Gothic windows. But never mind. Anyone who can get this far deserves an alpha for effort as far as I’m concerned. I was reminded of the Eccentric Corner at the South Bank exhibition of the Festival of Britain where, apparently, there was a violin made of matchsticks, which Laurie Lee (exhibition caption writer) picked up and played quite successfully.

Of course, in the world of matchstick modelling, this is very modest stuff. A quick online search reveals people who have spent years making models of complex buildings like Notre Dame in Paris. There’s a particularly good one of Llandaff Cathedral, made by one Bill Tucker. Hats off to people with patience!


Joe Treasure said...

Given the gendered history of modeling, it does seem a safe bet that this modeler was male. But I'm reminded that one of my English aunts, daughter of a carpenter & joiner, after raising four children took to making wooden dolls' houses. As so often, Phil, I enjoyed this piece as much for the incidental (parenthetic?) information as for the central subject. I'd never heard the story of Laurie Lee and the matchstick violin. As for the English hamlet of Llandinabo, I had to look it up on Wikipedia to be sure you hadn't invented it. Not only is it a real place, I lived less than 12 miles away by road for 20 years and never stumbled across it.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you, Joe. It is like me, of course, to have noticed Llandinabo, which I passed on a number of occasions before stopping. But then, perhaps you are a better driver than me, and less inclined to be distracted by timber-framed bellcotes and other attractions. Thank you also for grasped that what it incidental is also integral to this blog.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Ah: 'grasping', I meant to say, above, of course.