Monday, 14 January 2013

Stow Marie

SS Mary & Margaret is an astonishing building - part original flint and rubble wall augmented by, what I took to be, Tudor brickwork; it seems to have collapsed and then been repaired in the C16th retaining those bits that were sound.

There's not a huge amount of interest here but it's a lovely building and open, which probably added a huge plus to the draw, and the alter paintings, Mary Browne brass and Della Robbia memorial are all lovely; so whilst probably not a top ten of Essex certainly in contention for best of the day and looking at the west end photo certainly best in show.

I think Pevsner's rather harsh:

ST MARY AND ST MARGARET. Chancel taller than the nave. The nave is C15 (see the N window of three lights with panel tracery) but was heightened in brick early in the C16 to which the trefoil-arched corbel frieze and the stepped E gable belong. - BRASS. Mary Browne d. 1602, nothing special.

SS mary & margaret (3)

Altar1 - I am Gabriel who stands before God

Mary Browne nee Cammocke 1602 (4)

STOW MARIES. It is a small place on the low hills above the Crouch, with a lovely God’s Acre of trees and roses. A vivid red cross glows from the wooden bell-turret of the 15th century church, in contrast with the soft red corbel table crowning the nave wall below. Angels are playing viols in the headstops of the windows. There is a medieval niche in the wall now filled by a saint.

In the chancel is a brass portrait of Mary Browne, a village lady of the days of Queen Elizabeth, with little portraits of her three sons and four daughters. The stately wooden reredos dominating the sanctuary is a peace memorial and has three paintings of three Annunciations: the Annunciation of the coming of John to Zacharias, the Annunciation by Gabriel to the Madonna, and the Angel’s Annunciation to the women at the Tomb that Christ was risen. They are charming in their silvery colouring, and the setting is helped by the absence of a window in the  background. The font is 15th century.

Simon K -

Stow Maries - the second word is pronounced to rhyme with 'car ease' - itself is a disappointing village, mostly bungalows and hideous ranch-style villas, but out on the edge of it is an utterly enchanting little church overlooking a steep bluff, with all south-east Essex spread out below. It was breathtaking - being Essex, there wasn't much to see in the wide plain below, but as I stood there (and I kid you not) four early monoplanes in bright colours flew in formation across the valley. I've no idea where they came from, an airshow presumably, but having just come from the remains of the old Stow Maries RFC station it was an atmospheric moment.

I turned back to the church. A typical Essex rural church with a bellcote and little nave, but a large chancel tacked on as a 15th Century afterthought. A sign on the door said Peace and quiet await within which was nice. Another sign said this church is always open.

I stepped in to a delightful anglo-catholic interior, very simple with its statues. The building has sunk so that the benches slope down from the middle to the outside walls, as at Welney in Norfolk, although rather more dramatically as the church is so little. It is absolutely delightful. A notice on the inside of the door said most of us need an open church at some time in our lives.

This church went straight into my top 20 Essex churches.

I was heading down to the Crouch estuary, and it hadn't occurred to me that the road my tiny lane would shoot me out onto was the main road between Burnham-on-Crouch and the rest of the world. I was only on it for a mile or so, but it was a relief to get off into my stop, North Fambridge.

No comments:

Post a Comment