Monday, February 18, 2008

Stanway, Gloucestershire

Stanway is a magical corner of the Cotswolds. A stone manor house, mostly of the 16th and 17th centuries stands hard by an ornate gatehouse, a medieval tithe barn, a parish church, and a small group of cottages. Nearby is a thatched cricket pavilion, built for the author Sir James Barrie, who was a frequent visitor to the big house. The parish church was restored, heavily, twice, once in the 1790s and once in the 1890s, so a lot of the original medieval church has been swept away.

Some of the sweepings found their way into this churchyard wall, a charming bit of recycling. What can be seen here are lots of fragments of Norman stonework, various bits of moulding, some carved foliage of the 13th century, and a chunk of a figure from the early-14th century. Oh, and a stone coffin, performing the role of a kind of shelf.

One can imagine the zealous restorer of the 1890s – actually the then vicar, the Rev Bullock-Webster, feeling slightly sheepish about having run around the building like a bullock in a china shop, and getting his builder to reuse some of the bits he’d thrown out by putting them in the churchyard wall. If only more of the most enthusiastic Victorian church restorers had done the same.


Peter Ashley said...

Rumour has it (how many times do I start a sentence with that?)that Mr.Barrie was lying in bed at Stanway and saw on the ceiling the reflection of the church weathercock moving in the wind and this mirage gave him the idea of Tinkerbell in Peter Pan.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Peter - You're a remarkable source of lore.