For a fairly devout non-believer I’ve spent a relatively large amount of time in churches over the past month. Firstly for my inaugural enrolment as a godfather (fingers crossed at appropriate times) and then twice in 12 hours over the cusp of December 24th & 25th – midnight mass in St Laurence’s in Ludlow and the Christmas morning service in our village church. Feeling non-festive at the close of the shop on the 24th I thought that midnight mass might engender some spirit of the season in me.
Today, on a rare day trip away from both work and home, we had 2 rural churches in the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire border lands in our sights. There was also the additional impetus of a visit to the wonderful Butcher’s Arms in Woolhope for lunch.
All Saint’s in Brockhampton is that rare beast, an Arts & Crafts church. Completed in 1902 and designed by William Lethaby it’s a complicated piece of architecture; making use of thatch, stone and timber, but all executed to such a high standard and sitting so neatly next to each other.
The craftsmanship and attention to detail continues inside: beautiful light fittings (both electric and candle), altar tapestries by Burne-Jones and these amazing hand stitched covers to the prayer books.
The second church on the list was St Mary’s at Kempley was more ancient; boasting the oldest roof of any building in Britain and the most complete set of Romanesque frescoes in Northern Europe. Sadly . . . . those that are habitually programmed to not look for opening hours for churches will find that it is closed until March. So both frescoes and roof will require a re-visit; but the Norman exterior (with add ons) was enough on a sunny January day.