A Short Look Around

7th February 2016

Shoreham Church Village Churches Thank You Please Read Me!

Shoreham Church

Shoreham's church - in Kent - is dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. It is largely medieval, with parts dating back to the 14th Century. It is Grade 1 listed and contains a fine 15th Century Rood Screen and many splendid artefacts handed down from ages past. Like many traditional village churches, it is a microcosm of local history - in this case, a very fine microcosm and one I am glad I had the privilege to see. I hope that these pictures will help to say why.

My pictures appear mostly in the order in which I took them. The lighting within a church is not always that good, so to some pictures I needed to give the GIMP treatment; however, I hope you will get some idea of the interesting aspects of this church.

A fine avenue of Irish yews await their spring trimming.
Since about 1867 this avenue has led visitors to ...

... the church itself, with its 18th Century tower.

I enter by the old porch. Old indeed, for this timber framed porch is late medieval.

Within, the 15th Century Rood Screen, possibly the largest in Kent, attracts immediate attention.

This large oil painting on the west wall dates from 1877. It shows Lieutenant Cameron's Welcome Home from his explorations in Africa in 1873 to 1875. All very much in the spirit of the Victorian times. I assume that Lt. Cameron then became something of a local hero! (By the way, frame and mount are my own embellishments, courtesy of HTML5!)

This nice hatchment adorns the north wall. I had to work a bit with GIMP to bring the picture out of the shadows, but I think the effort was aesthetically worth it!
"Resurgam" - "I shall rise again". Latin rules OK!

The subject of this nice stained-glass window looks like Saint George himself, with sword and English shield. I can't make out the dragon.
The hostelry opposite the church is called "Ye Olde George Inn", but I'm not sure if there is a direct connection between this stained-glass window and the name of the said hostelry.

The more influential individuals from the locality had their monuments inside on the church walls. This 18th Century monument is to the Reverend Vincent Perronet and his wife, Mrs Charity Perronet. The style of language is very interesting. According to the inscription, Mrs Perronet appears to have led a rather interesting existence, but was outlived by her "better half". The individuals themselves are of course long forgotten but life goes on.

The next monument along is very nicely sculpted, but the inscription has suffered at the hands of time. Skulls often featured on monuments as
a stark reminder to parishioners that human life on this earth is finite.

The sun did not want to be left out of this view of the 15th Century carved wooden Rood Screen. Rood Screens separated the altar area from the rest of the church. This practice harks back to the time when the naves of churches were also used as village community centres.

In this colourful window,
Saint Peter with his key, and Saint Paul with his book and sword, flank Christ.

The past is a foreign country; they speak differently there.
(Adapted from the famous sentence in L.P. Hartley's novel.)
If you were not regarded as sufficiently influential in your local community, then at least you stood a chance of being remembered by a stone floor slab inside the church, your memory not falling prey to the weather in the manner of your less fortunate neighbours whose gravestones populated the churchyard outside.
The "Aged 36" in the inscription gives us cause for reflection.
Over more than two centuries, countless feet have trodden upon this slab, whose stone surface has stood the test of time. (The same slab also commemorates Elizabeth's husband, but I have only committed the top half of the slab to modern age pixels.)

These reflections on the English life and language of the past merit going back to take another look at the inscription on the Perronet Memorial which we visited above. No doubt you, dear reader, you can find even more cause for reflection!
Living to the age of 74, let alone 91, was most unusual in the 18th century and suggest a lifestyle more comfortable and sheltered than that associated with members of the general population.
(You may wish to click on the image for a more readable transcription.)

It's time to enter the present again, through the church's old porch. Yew trees and nicely kept paving accompany my return to the here and now.

The avenue of yew trees takes me back to the hustle and bustle of the modern age.
Why, you can just about make out "Ye Olde George Inn" at the end of the avenue, the "tunnel" between past and present. So ends another fascinating journey to the past!

The Interest of Old Village Churches

My look around Shoreham Church today (7th February 2016) gave me the splendid opportunity of visiting several centuries in a matter of only a few minutes - the length of my short visit. Churches, of course, have a primary religious purpose. However, village churches also used to have the secular purpose of a Village Hall and meeting place. In fact, religion and everyday life were very closely intertwined for practically everyone living in an English village; thus village churches are a splendid reflection of the history and culture of that locality and very often of the nation as a whole. This is why I find such churches so particularly fascinating! It's all part of my life-long education.

Thank You

These pictures were taken by me on Sunday, 7th February 2016, on one of Ralph's fine CLOG walks around Otford. Thank you Ralph for suggesting and leading this walk. Thank you all for your good company on this walk - and for putting up with my penchant for delving into matters historical and cultural.

The past is a foreign country

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there". This often quoted sentence appeared in L.P. Hartley's novel "The Go-Between", which was first published in 1953. (Leslie Poles Hartley CBE (1895-1972)).