Church Crawl: St John Baptist, Axbridge                Monday, 14th October, 2013
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All Saintsí Church
The 5th and final church crawl of the 2013 season, and, indeed, the nearest, entailed a run ‘just down the road’. Once again, the architectural eye of Christopher Marsden-Smedley had lighted upon key features, both of the church and the town, which ensured no key points were missed. Andrew Densham similarly briefed the party on the liturgical implications of some of the details of the building. For example, strictly religious statuary, such as the little Virgin and Child in the south aisle, is in short supply. The local great and good are commemorated on all sides by plaques and busts, the Prowse family prominent among them. The lack of stained glass in the windows, combined with the vividly plastered nave ceiling, evoke an immediate sense of light and space as you enter through the south door - itself equipped these days with a pair of substantial glass doors. Compared to many churches, the excesses of Victorian restoration were minimised since here it was designed in the late 1880s by the then diocesan architect, J D Sedding. Unusually, the tower is in the centre of the building, unlike the majority - such as All Saints’ - where it stands at the west end. As a result, there’s an admirable fan-vault at the crossing, The carving of the font is worth a lingering look since, having been heavily plastered over to forestall the depradations of Cromwellian iconoclasts, it had been forgotten for many years, and rediscovered by accident by some picky fingers years later. After Compline, the propinquity of The Lamb meant a bite to eat and a pint of Butcombe were but a short step away.
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