Summer 2014, and a return trip to the church of St John The Evangelist, Ryhall. My first trip here was on Cup Final Saturday 2008, with a four church crawl of Rutland being photographed with a very basic digital camera. I promised myself a return trip one day and this took just over six years to come to fruition.
Ryhall can be found two miles north of Stamford, and is one of the largest villages in Rutland. It is said that St Tibba, the patron saint of Falconers, is thought to have lived here in the seventh century. According to legend, Tibba was the niece of King Penda of Mercia. Upon here death, Tibba was buried at Ryhall but her relics were transferred to Peterborough Abbey, now known as Peterborough cathedral, at some point during the 11th century. A small hermitage associated to Tibba can be seen at the west end of the north aisle of the church.
It is always a delight to be in Rutland, a very attractive county, with some picturesque villages and some wonderful churches. The attitude to open churches in this county is admirable as well. As I entered the church a man was coming out. He wished me an enjoyable time looking around and when I said how good it was to see it open his reply was to say that the church was beautiful and they wanted people to see it and enjoy it, not just the people who worshiped there on a Sunday.
The present church here dates from 1200, and it is thought that this replaced an earlier church on the same site. The tower and spire date from later in the 13th century with the double decker porch dating from the 14th century. Much work was undertaken on this church during the 15th century and the church was restored in 1857.
Five bells hang here, with three of them being made locally. The first is dated 1790, and was cast by Edward Arnold of Leicester. The second bell was cast just a couple of miles away in Stamford by Thomas Norris of the Stamford bellfoundry. The Latin inscription on this reads 'Omnia Fiant Ad Gloriam Dei', which translates as 'let all things be done for the glory of God'.
The third bell is from the same founder and has the inscription 'Non Clamor Sed Amor cantat in avre dei'. This also reads 'Thomas Norris cast me 1626, along with the initials of the church wardens of the day. I struggled with the translation on this one and asked for help from people on my Facebook page. It was suggested that this translates as 'Do not cry, but sing out to the love of God'. The fifth bell was also cast by Thomas Norris, this one being dated 1633.
The other bell, the fourth in the ring of five, is more modern and was made by Mears and Stainbank in the nineteenth century.
Not much in the way of stained glass to be seen here, and this makes for the interior to be very bright, particularly on a gloriously sunny afternoon such as this. Just a couple of stained glass windows. One modern one depicts John The Baptist baptising Jesus whilst an older window on the south wall of the nave depicts Christ crucified.
The chancel houses several wall monuments, two of which contain human skulls, symbolising the mortality of man. One of these is winged and has a bat like appearance. I have seen a few of these and have always been puzzled as to the significance of the bat wings. Some internet research prior to this being typed suggests that the bat is a symbol of re-birth after death.
Interesting to see a crowned figure in the nave, which has been very badly damaged over the years. This damage may have been caused in puritan times when images deemed to be idolotrous were defaced.
Going back outside and there are a large number of carved figures which go to make a frieze. Some lovely work to be seen here, with three of the carvings being shown below. Some of these are mouth pullers or have their tongue stuck out, both medieval gestures of insult. Some of the others are quite unusual, such as an owl with a small animal on its back and a figure in the act of scratching its backside. Fascinating sometimes to try and look at what was going on in the medieval mind to carve such things as these.
The church grounds here have lots of old graves but nothing really stands out as of great interest, despite some of the work being of very fibe quality.
One possible exception is a grave pictured below, which has the symbol of a heart peirced by an arrow. This is not a symbol which is terribly common in this part of the UK.
This is a lovely church and it was good to visit here again. We left Ryhall and headed off towards Uffington, where we were pleased to see that the scaffolding was down and the church was open.
Would certainly suggest paying Ryhall a visit if you are in the area.