Did you know that in medieval times the interior walls of churches were painted with the equivalent of PowerPoint presentations for a congregation who couldn’t read, or that lych gates were built at church entrances to store corpses before burial and that the word “lych” is old Saxon for corpse? Or that locally, John Keble of Oxford Keble College fame was born at Fairford in 1792, became vicar of Coln St Aldwyns church and also curate at Eastleach Martin church, and that this accounts for streets, housing estates and school house teams all bearing his name in our local area.
These are just some of the interesting facts that came to light over the two weeks we wandered around the villages near our home photographing churches for our blog.
It really began one day we decided to visit the church at Eaton Hastings on the road between Lechlade and Faringdon, except it wasn’t there! A signpost pointed us left onto a minor road for “Church” which also indicated a no through road, a dead end. Ten minutes later we are praying that a tractor doesn’t come around a bend and make a mess of my Jag which is too big to turn around and give up. Nothing but fields, pylons, woods, hedges, ditches, and a very narrow road. Eventually we reached what can only be described as a hamlet, two houses, one farm, one church. I can’t say that the church was anything special architecturally, it was tiny, but what we learned is that Eaton Hastings is designated as a “deserted medieval village”. It began to be depopulated in 1392 probably due to bubonic plague though parts of the church date back to the 11th C.
We made similar discoveries such as St Mary’s at Fairford containing the most complete set of stained glass in England, or Southrop St Peter’s church containing a most rare baptism font from Norman times. These two weeks were an eye-opener for us and we are now seeking a new theme to explore within a 20 mile radius of our home, so, any suggestions in the comments section please.