Dedicated to St. Michael
|Welcome Memorials Windows Good Bye Thank You Read Me|
Saint Michael's church in Offham dates back to the 13th Century with extensions in the subsequent 14th and 15th Centuries. The "List of Rectors" starts at 1267. The famous Kentish Ragstone was used for most of the building. History seems to ooze at every pore! A veritable time capsule of days gone by and definitely worth visiting even if - as so often - our time was at a premium. I had to be very selective in my photography!
As you can expect, the history of a village is often reflected in its church memorials. Of course, when these memorials were created, the passing of various individuals was a serious matter, and treated with great ceremony in the locality. Nowadays, largely devoid of the original, personal connections, these memorials do, however, give us an interesting glimpse into life several centuries ago, when for many the world was a largely a local concept - the global dimension had yet to be discovered and appreciated.
Of the many memorials, the three that I managed to take in photographically, spanned the years from 1660 to 1800. This was only about 140 years, but still, a period of great change covering Stuart and Georgian times. Family names such as "De Critz", "Omer" and "Spearman" occur frequently and suggest that these families had some influence and standing in the locality. The fact that their memorials were inside the church give weight to this statement.
In the quotes from the memorials I try to adhere to the original spelling and pronunciation, which linguistic aspects do not always accord with our own. Of course, it's also interesting to appreciate how English usage and the meaning of words have changed over the centuries.
In the time available I managed to photograph three memorials.
The stone floor slab in the four pictures below may well have been created by someone whose command of their own language was far from perfect, even when seen from our own 21st century perspective. Literacy and linguistic competence had yet to reach the level we take for granted today. Admittedly, the English speaking world had still to wait for the impetus given to the standardisation of English by Dr Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, first published in 1755.
In my rendering, below, of the text on the stone slab, the hash symbols indicate the position on the stone slab of the rather crudely drawn family crest. Crudely? Well, I probably could not do better, but of course, I'm admittedly not a stone mason. The double quotes are my insertion to indicate the lines which appear to be roughly quoted from the King James Authorized Bible (Thessalonians 1, part 4, verses 16 and 17). The final word "ITHAYRE" means "in the air" (i.e. "on high").
A bit more careful perusal was needed here, for countless feet have trodden over this stone slab in the course of several centuries! The age of death is of interest. The lack of medical knowledge may have played a part. We shall probably never know. We do not even know exactly the cause of the madness of King George in more recent times.
Here's the text. Spelling and letters, and of course, the position and use of "ESQR" are all of interest!
High upon the wall - and not set into the church floor - is this seemingly more professionally executed memorial from a later era. The Spearmans probably had significant standing in the community of Offham, judging by the professional execution of the memorial as well as the family crest which graces it.
Closer inspection reveals the text shown below. People got around - in this case Woolwich and Newington (Kent). The means of transport was often the stage coach, which vehicle, in my humble layman's opinion, had a rather high centre of gravity. Of course, stage coaches were very widely used throughout the world, but how safe were they actually? Again, this event - as recorded - was a tragedy at the time, but for us the linguistic and historical aspects make interesting reading.
The marble inscriber was using both capitals and lower-case letters, this in itself pointing to a greater linguistic competence compared to that employed by the craftsmen working on the previous two memorials of about 140 years before.
The subjects for stained glass windows may sometimes be family crests. However, religious subjects often grace church windows. In this way, parishioners are reminded of religious aspects in a colourful, yet dignified way.
The time has come to leave these fascinating links with England's past. A last look at the nave and the church porch and then we head towards England's green and pleasant countryside to complete the final stage of our walk to East Malling.
These pictures were taken by me on Sunday, 18th September 2016, on one of Nick's fine CLOG walks from Borough Green to East Malling, to the web-based description of which you probably will return from our visit to Saint Michael's Church. Thank you Nick for suggesting and leading this walk. Thank you all for your good company on this walk.