Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Barfreston Church

As rare a place as England has in stone is this little temple set on a hill, made by Norman hands. Like a rich cameo it is, a precious jewel among the massive structures the Normans left behind.Its walls have been graciously spared by Time. It is weathered, but with gentle harmony, as if Nature herself must be kind to one so beautiful.
And inside, too, the glory of Barfreston continues. Through the high chancel arch is the great Wheel Window, above three Norman lancets....and the whole effect of the window is to make us feel that we are in the presence of the beginning of that Gothic glory, the Rose Window, which was soon to follow.

Here for all the world to see, for the sun and wind and rain to play upon, is a magnificent array of the finest sculpture of its time, a great frieze of heads and faces and quaint figures wrought with character and vigour standing out clear after nearly 700 years.
Over the south door, with two lines of sculpture containing 26 figures more or less grotesque, are a dog playing a harp to a man upside down, two dogs drinking from a pot....
The words of Arthur Mee in his guide book to Kent, first published in 1936, are as finely crafted and beautiful as the subjects that he describes.

We got a bit lost on the way to the church, and were looking anxiously for a signpost. The one we found was not helpful.


Mary said...

I imagine that you were REALLY late, if you were headed to Capetown :-) What a beautiful little church and I bet studying all that carving would be fascinating. Makes you wonder what was in their mind when they carved stuff like "a dog playing the harp to an upside down man". I was trying to see what the carvings by the outside of the wheel window were. That window is beautiful! I imagine that you very much feel like you are in God's presence in such a place.

Sandpiper said...

Gorgeous pictures! Everything about the place oozes charm.