Weekend: Archive: Remarkable Monuments in a Memorable Church; Ross Reyburn Visits One of the Most Remarkable Memorials in in All England

The Birmingham Post (England), October 5, 2002 | Go to article overview

Weekend: Archive: Remarkable Monuments in a Memorable Church; Ross Reyburn Visits One of the Most Remarkable Memorials in in All England


Byline: Ross Reyburn

The celebrated memorials inside the church are in immaculate condition. The painted alabaster effigy of Henry IV's sister Princess Elizabeth, who died in 1425, in a red dress with gold embroidery lies in neat recess and just a few yards away lies the early 16th century oaken effigy of young Edmund Cornwall. With his bobbed black hair and dressed in full armour, he gazes somewhat woodenly at the church roof while with the lively figure of a small red lion sits at his feet.

Churchwarden Mrs Sadie Chalkley, who runs the family ironmongers J G was a very high church at one period in its life and that is why it has steps and the altar is raised. They said it was second to the churches in London - it is a lovely church.'

But it is the Cornwall Triptych against the church north wall a short distance from the elaborate altar that remains the highpoint of the church and has been justifiably described as 'one of the most remarkable' memorials in in all England.

The two central doors decorated with paintings of the Apostles can be opened to reveal the surprising sight of theThe cockerel weather vane on the church tower looks decidedly crooked. But otherwise the Church of St Mary with the remarkable monuments in the Shropshire village of Burford seems wonderfully preserved.

But appearances can be deceptive. The bird is in no danger of a heavy fall and the church this summer put in a pounds 56,000 bid for a Heritage Lottery grant for the pounds 69,000 needed for essential restoration work.

'The cockerel has just bent in the wind - it is actually very secure,' said church treasurer Philip Williams, who lives in the attractive Old Rectory a short distance from the church. 'We thought it was unsafe so we thought we would try and take it down but the steeplejack couldn't move it all.

'We haven't done any major repairs for several years. The main work which we have to do is repair some of the lead guttering and some of the masonry.

'The guttering is watertight but it has been patched. We are not in crisis yet but it is essential the work is done. If you get water penetrating, you will get rot in the timbers underneath and it will become a very major problem.

'We have about pounds 20,000 in church funds in total but some of that is marked for less urgent work on the trees in the churchyard. The other thing I am very concerned about is finding once we start the work there are additional problems.

'We need some contingency money; we don't want to start the job and run into problems which we can't afford to deal with.'

Banfield founded by her great great grandfather in the 1830s in the nearby town of Tenbury Wells, still vividly recalls her first sighting of this huge figure back in the 1940s when she attended St Mary's primary school at the Old Rectory.

'The vicar's wife Dorothy Freeman ran the private school in the rectory,' she remembers. 'Her husband was Robert Freeman and he took us around the church as part of our education.

'I remember going into a big dark church and this great big figure lying down in the centre of the chancel. …

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