Sunday, October 14, 2007

Madron Church: Age and Beauty

Tonight we went to a concert of early music -- Dowland, Lassus, Gibbons -- and it was daunting to realize that the church we were sitting in was much older than the music. The main parts of the church date back to the early 1500s but parts are much older. The bell tower was raised to its present height in 1390. Several bits date back to Norman times (the 12th century). On display in the church is a memorial stone which dates to the 7th or 8th century. Overhead was an unusual wagon-roof -- a close-set series of double arch-braced trusses with 250 carved bosses and carved and painted angels on each cornice. The tracery on the rood screen was as delicate as a spider web. In the center of the screen, over the aisle, was tied a sheaf of barley -- the last sheaf of the harvest. This is part of an ancient ceremony called "crying the neck." No one could tell me why it is called that, just that it has been tradition for many generations. This is one of the most interesting churches I've visited and, while I enjoyed the concert, I kept wishing I could spend several hours just photographing the church.

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