Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Ye Historical Village of Bartlow

I have this friend, right, who seems to know where *everything* is in England. He asks where you live and then tells you where that is. Well for some unknown reason he's heard of my village, but he hadn't heard of the more historically significant (he's a church history buff) village just 3 or 4 miles away from my house.
Bartlow. Known chiefly for its three enormous Roman Hills, and also the 11th cenutry church with 15th century wall paintings. Lovely.

So I grabbed a leaflet, and I'll stick up relevant photos. I have sort of done this for the above friend, since I thought he'd like it.

'The small village of Bartlow lies at the extreme south east of Cambridgeshire on the boarder with Essex. From the architecture of the Church, its Registers and records and from archaeological finds, it is possible to something about the people who lived there since earliest times.

Bartlow Hills to the south east of the Church is the site of some interesting tumuli dating from the 2nd Century A.D which indicate that Roman British settlements existed here; a fact supported by the many Roman coins found in the neighbourhood.

(There are at least 3)

(The biggest - had lunch up there. Coming down wasn't very nice.)

The Church standing today almost certainly replaced an earlier building. Lysons, in his Magna Britannia, states that Bartlow is the Church built by King Canute in 1020 A.D. in reparation for the blood spilled in the battle of Assandune (Ashdon) between the Saxons and the Danes. This is disputed by later authorities and Ashingdon in South Essex is most likely the site of the battle.

The present Church belongs, in the main, to the decorated period from about 1300 A.D. The North and South windows of the Chancel are of this period, as is the Nave whic hhas some perpendicular insertions. The East window is from about 1500 A.D and probably replaced smaller windows. The Round Tower is Norman and is a kind rare in Cambridgeshire. Its walls are about 5 feet thick at their bases. The porch is perpendicular; the common rail is 17th century and has notable balusters.

The Wall Paintings are of great interest and date from the 15th century.

St. Michael weighing the souls. The devil is seen trying to weigh the scales in his favour but is thwarted by Our Lady using her influence on the behalf of the sinner being judged.

St. Christopher. This is only the top half of a much larger picture. On his left shoulder is seen the Christ Child.
[An even clearer picture here - contributed by my grandmother using a tripod for height and a really swish video camera.]

Over the door is St. George and the Dragon. Only the dragon remains.

Stained Glass - the East window is by Clayton and Bell c.1881. There are traces of mediaeval canopy work in the North and South Chancel windows.

Registers dating back to 1573 are now in the care of the County Archivist, Shire Hall, Cambridge where they may be consulted.

Bartlow people have worshipped here for nearly 700 years under the protective gaze of St. Christopher, during which time many changes have occurred. When he was first painted the services were in Latin. He watched over the events of the Reformation which brought in Cranmer's Prayer; he saw the dread days of the Commonwealth and the over hasty destruction of much beauty. (On March 22nd 1643 one William Dowsing "brake down a crucifix and a holy lambe and about ten superstitious pictures", a fate shared by many other churches in East Anglia).

The Church is well cared for. In recent years the round tower has been re-pointed and re-roofed. Internal walls have been re-plastered and re-painted. That refurbishment led to the discovery of the stoop by the entrance which had been filled in during Cromwell's time and we have now restored it.

Our next challenge is to re-roof the north side of the Church where the clay tiles have finally given up the fight with decades of winter frosts, repair a collapsing stone buttress and replace the oak louvres in the bell tower.

The village has undertaken considerable fund raising and is now awaiting the outcome of a grant application to English Heritage. If we are successful, we hope that this major piece of work will be undertaken in 2008. (I don't know if it has)

If you would like to contribute to our fund for restoration, please place any donation in the box or send it to the Rector at Linton Vicarage, Church Lane, Linton, Cambridge CB1 6JX. Our sincere gratitude to anyone who has helped.'

I don't know whether or not they got English Heritage funding, unfortunately.

Here's information on the hills (unfortunately it would not all legibly fit on one photo):




e.f. bartlam said...

I assume from reading around the blog that you are either a historian in training or a trained historian receiving further training...or something along them lines.

Would you rather dig around in your own back yard (or the yards of others) and write informative but narrative histories, like what you've got above...just explaining what something got where it was and why things were done a certain way (the why can get a little sticky...but it doesn't always have why is there a Norman tower in Bartlow)...or following the squirrelly details of an individual's life.


Would you rather spend more time in a library than in your own bed looking for a gotcha moment, trying to find some inconsistency in the scholarship...a manuscript filed in the wrong section 100 years ago...desperately hunting down corroborating sources..or trying to horseshoe past events into the latest theories, etc?

Just wondering...I'm trained myself and I could never decide which I'd rather do. It was fun to have an original idea and actually find evidence for it, but a lot of times I would be more interested in the stories I was plucking my evidence from...than how it might serve my narrow purpose. If that makes any sense.

Chief Mauskateer said...

I'm just in my third year of a history degree - after which I am applying for a PGCE to teach primary school children. At the moment I'd actually prefer to be in bed with a good book than in the library! I think this year has really taken it out of me.

I don't consider myself to be a historian as such - just a student of and an enthusiast. I always cringe when I hear about "amateur historians" on the radio, but I'm not sure why, cause that's what we are, I guess!

As for the history details side - I do see what you mean about the stories; I would have done English Lit on the side if it hadn't be SO much reading that would have spoiled my book-worminess, and I love coming up with little stories even if it's about some local person, or Richard III or Henry VIII (a much misunderstood man, as a lecturer I went to see agreed with).

I have my own particular speciality or deep-rooted interest; I love the Tudor period, but I also am interested in periods before that. I love ancient cultures too, and I have studied the history of Islam which was a real eye opener in some respects.
Even though it's a ''late'' period for me, I am also studying the fall of the Empire in India, 1857 - 1960s and the Partition, largely because I am anti-colonial, and I am interested in the politics and concepts from the time.

I am currently supposed to be writing an essay on Richard III's character, and that involves a lot of squirreling through my sources. And I'm supposed to know every damn detail of his reign for the exams - it's hard. At A-level for some reason the entire time line of 1485-1603 stuck in my head, but with this tiny 2 year reign it feels horrendously complicated. Perhaps it's Richard's fault, or perhaps it's mine. Can't be sure.

Hope that vaguely answers your question. I think I've picked up my tutor's flair for going on a tangent.

e.f. bartlam said...

Let's blame it on him...what's he gonna do about it?

Tangents, as I've pointed out to my wife many times over her rolling eyes and Oh Lords, are a very underrated form of communication.

Speaking of the Missus...she's got an English degree and it put her off books for almost a decade :). It's the literary theories that drove her away. I think it took ten years before she could read in peace again.

I know how she feels. I studied the British Empire in 19th century..India and South Africa mostly. Wrote about the interactions between low level officials, British Army Officers and Indian and African people that they employed and fought alongside.

Of course, thanks to Said and the post-colonialists, the subalterns, I had to pass everything I did by Foucault before it was finished :gnashesteeth:

For the record...What I found was that the native peoples of the Empire used their knowledge the British with enough skill to make an old time Orientalist blush. The black market economy that followed the British Army around is particularly fascinating ...and hilarious.

Ah Tangents.

Good luck wrapping it up.

I like the blog...good stuff.