Croft, St Michael and all Angels

A gorgeous setting, in the grounds of Croft Castle, for a charming church (where it was also a delight to bump unexpectedly into old Ely friends as well).

The highlight for me were the fine lower figures of saints on the chest tomb of Sir Richard and Lady Croft c.1510 – reminding us that on the eve of the Commotion what we think of as fifteenth-century style and Catholic sentiment was enjoying a flourishing time. St Anthony is on the left with his usual pig (his Hospitallers were given runts that they let loose with bells round there heads to beg off the locals: Tantony pigs). On the right is St Roche baring his leg to show the page bubo that he survived (oddly with a small person by it rather than the dog who ministered to him). Both – for ergotism (St Anthony’s Fire) and the Plague – would have been saints whose intercessions were valuable for the afflicted.

The stand-out feature of the church is, of course, the bell-turret of around 1700 with its leaded ogee-shaped cupola. Sadly the leadwork has had to be removed (with a tarpaulin in place for the moment) pending renewal, and more than sadly grant applications to help with it seem to have got stalled. It is shouting out silently for someone to put their hand into their pocket more deeply than we or the locals (who also have another listed church to look after) could do. Read the story at