Monday, 25 May 2009


I have a lot of work to do in the four weeks before term ends, and it's all quite interesting and about Vikings and so on, but right now I'm taking a break to post about pretty Kent churches. Wickhambreaux is not far from Canterbury and it's a beautiful little place, with a village green and a watermill which I'm a bit in love with, and a house by the green which in my favourite film ever is the symbol of all the loveliness of rural life. So it's kind of an ideal village for me. I'd never been in the church, however, before this Easter. It's fairly ordinary to look at on the outside, though it does have this nice little porch:

Then you go inside, and you see this (click to enlarge, you'll be glad you did!):

It's the most extraordinary window, full of wonderful colours: lilies below and angels above, and Mary in the middle, kneeling before Gabriel. It was installed in 1896, designed by Arild Rosenkrantz. The seven archangels are there: Michael to the right, with Adam and Eve on his shield:

And Gabriel, of course:

The colour of the light in Mary's halo is so gentle and delicate:

There are lilies all across the bottom of the window, glowing white but spotted with scarlet blood, as a reminder of the Crucifixion. When the light strikes the red glass...

I adore lilies. A kind friend gave me some last week, and as is their right they have regally assumed lordship over my room; it is now the abode of the lilies, and they just condescendingly allow me to share their space. I was at a seminar a few days ago where the speaker mentioned illustrations to the Old English poem Genesis which show Lucifer, just before the Fall, holding a lily-sceptre as a symbol of his desire to be king. Apparently this is something Carolingian monarchs may have done; I can well believe it.

There's one bit of medieval glass in the church, too, depicting the popular if rather gruesome subject of the beheading of John the Baptist:

A memorial or two, including this to Alexander Young, a parish priest 'cheerful and easy in himself' (fortunate man!):

And Angels on the roof:

But nothing compares to that window - or even its reflection.

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