Uffington. CHURCH : ST MICHAEL

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Summer of 2014, and a return trip to the church of St Michael, Uffington. I had originally been here six years previously and had wanted to see it again, armed with a better digital camera than I had previously. Had looked in during 2013, only to find the church totally covered in scaffolding. No scaffolding here this time, with the church looking quite exquisite in the late afternoon sunlight.

Uffington is a lovely village, and the parish church of St Michael is a lovely sight, nestling inbetween the trees. It is thought that there has been a church on this site since Norman times, although nothing remains of that original church. The oldest part of the present building is the north arcade, which was built in the last quarter of the 12th Century.
  The magnificent tower and spire, supported by flying buttresses, dates from around 1480. Restoration was done on the tower in the 17th century, and the eagle eyed amongst us might see the date 1639 on the tower. There are six bells in the tower, and four of these have the inscription "Thomas Norris Made Me 1640". Regular visitors to this site might know that I have a particular interest in this family of bellfounders. The Norris bellfounders came from Stamford, and Thomas Norris was the son of Tobias Norris who founded the company. These bells are of a considerable age, but they could well be older even than 1640, as it is thought that Norris re-cast the existing bells the year after the restoration of the tower.
  This church is normally open, and there are some very fine monuments to see here. The effigy on the Knight on the north wall of the chancel is said to be that of Richard De Schropschire, who bought the Manor of Casewick in 1392. This effigy has been vandalised over the years, with a figure "A" seeming to have been carved in to the knight's chest. It also appears that the knights facial features have been re-carved (and re-carved very badly as well!).
  Opposite the Knight is a monument featuring two men kneeling towards each other. Some real history here as it commemorates the final resting place of Sir Roger Manners, esquire to the body of Queen Mary (died 1558) and then Queen Elizabeth I. The inscription on the monument reads as follows...
'HERE LYES ROGER MANNERS, ESQUIRE TO THE BODYE TO QUEENE MARYE, AND QUEENE
ELIZABETHE, AND THERD SONNE TO THOMAS LATE ERLE OF RUTLAND: ANNO DOMINI 1587.
  Another monument in the chancel shows Laurence Staunton and his wife kneeling with two children behind them. Staunton became the Rector of Uffington in 1587. A close examination of the figures show that their hands are oversized. This is a fairly common piece of symbolism. The bigger the hands, which are normally raised in prayer, the more pious was the deceased.
 

Interested to see a winged skull on this monument. This is to symbolise the mortality of man. The skull represents death, the wings denoting the swift passage of time. Bleak symbolism perhaps but the skull is wearing a crown, sometimes they can wear a laurel wreath, which represents victory. In this case it would be victory over death through living a good life and moving on to heaven.
There are some wonderful stained glass windows to be seen here. A representation of the Last Supper shows Judas Iscariot, without halo and clutching a bag of money, looking away from Jesus and the other disciples. Other scenes include the good samaritan, the woman at the well and the crucifiction with a delightful depiction of the four evangelists catching the eye. There is also a scene from Genesis, Chapter 22, where Abraham is tested by God and is about to sacrifice his own son.
Some elaborate carvings on the capitals are worth noting. These inclide Adam and Eve and George and The Dragon.
  Outside, and the church grounds are well kept and contain some fine examples of gravestones going back to the mid 18th century, with a few looking to date from the late 17th century over to the east. One stone features a large human skull with crossed human bones, reminding the onlooker that Man is mortal and will die.
It was really beautiful here. The sun was just starting to set and the only noise was from the birds. It was still warm and all was good. I have visited a great many churches over the last few years but setting wise, not many will be able to match Uffington. Stood for a while in the church grounds, just watching the scene around me. Very beautiful and peaceful.
Spent a very enjoyable time here. Was good to see this church again. We headed off towards Stamford and an evening service. The church here is normally open for visitors and is well worth a look if you are in the area.

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