Friday, 24 April 2009

Elham Valley 1

 I spent part of the Easter vacation seeking out medieval joys among the churches of the Elham valley. The week after Easter is the best time to visit churches, in my opinion, because they always smell of lilies.

The Elham valley is part of the North Downs, running some of the way between Canterbury and Folkestone. This makes the following altarpiece, in a side chapel in the church at Elham, particularly appropriate:

It's fifteenth-century, alabaster, and both the side panels shows scenes from the life of St Thomas Becket.

On the left, the dispute between Becket and Henry II (at the council in Northampton in 1164, I believe)...

...and on the right, Becket's murder.

Not many such pieces survive (I should say, not enough!) because so much was destroyed at the Reformation, but this escaped somehow.

Now I think about it, St Thomas Becket would make another excellent candidate for patron saint of England...

Anyway, Elham also has some medieval glass:

John the Baptist, obviously enough, with an inappropriately cute little lamb.

It also has some surprising Oxford glass:

Apparently Merton College was a benefactor, or something.

Another medieval... feature:

This is Elham church from the outside:

And one from the list of 'church joys' - an interesting porch: