Nine Churches in Two Hours / by Sasha Ward

A slight exaggeration as I didn't include the time it took to get there and back, one of them was locked and one had become a private house. However these churches are all close together in the vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire - the route was Manningford Bruce, North Newnton, Upavon, Rushall, Charlton St. Peter, Wilsford, Marden, Chirton and Patney. Some of them were so uninviting that you wondered why anyone would want to sit there for more than ten minutes, others had an incredible atmosphere both inside and out. 

 St. Mary Upavon, locked but this is a Henry Holliday window             St. Matthew's Rushall, window and doorway

St. Mary Upavon, locked but this is a Henry Holliday window             St. Matthew's Rushall, window and doorway

My favourite of these churches is St. Matthew's, Rushall, surrounded by fields. The light was streaming in and out through mostly clear windows distorting the winter trees outside.  As soon as you see even a slightly bad figurative window (this church has a four seasons one from the 1960s) you wonder why anyone would bother to have anything other than the plainest glass. 

 Pale and textured glass at Rushall

Pale and textured glass at Rushall

It's quite easy to find a nice bit of detail in most of the nine, well seven really, churches that I visited, but that doesn't amount to a good stained glass window. What does, in my opinion, is one that changes the atmosphere inside the church by altering the light using subtle pattern and colour - three examples below, all fantastic.

Manningford Bruce                              North Newnton                                        Marden

There were also some small (about 1 metre tall) windows that I thought worked in their entirety. Rather than pick out details I want to look at the whole composition and think about the people in them. The Marden window (below right) of Saints Peter and Paul was made by Jasper and Molly Kettlewell in 1958. It is amazing to find such a bold pair of figures looking so 1950ish in a tiny and lovely local church.

Wilsford                                                    Wilsford                                       Marden