Locked down but not locked out: a visit to St Mary the Virgin, Burghill

A lovely day to visit a lovely church, St Mary’s Burghill just outside Hereford. Most of the church is roped off for Covid safety’s sake but the south aisle was helpfully open for us to say a prayer for the people of the parish and enjoy their historic place of worship. Thank you!

It’s a large building, the sort that has a bit of something from every century in it, telling the story of the place in stone. As we approached the flag was fluttering bravely from the tower, overseeing the well-kept churchyard, whose stones were lined up like Easter Island moai, looking silently out into the future. Keeping an eye on them too was a bishop, or at least the head of his effigy, set in the outside south aisle, with stylish hair fluttering out on each side (or was it just a Plague time then too and barbers were hard to come by?).

Inside the nave and aisles are of their early mediaeval proportions though tidied up by restoration, and the main arcade marches strongly east towards a huge rood-screen, elaborated with a high and deep canopy facing the people: a spectacular frame for proclaiming the gospel, and room enough to hold a choir-full of angelic boys to sing it at Easter. The HMSO author even thinks there might have been an altar up there.

Only on the way out did we really spot and connect with the Norman font, not one of the dynamic Herefordshire Romanesque dramas this time, but more classically composed with Christ and the Apostles in an arcade supporting a simple round bowl. Lovely indeed.

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