Upwood. CHURCH : ST PETER

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I first visited the church of St Peter at Upwood back in the early days of shooting for this site, and immediately had a great affection for it. Returned in better lighting conditions in 2010 and again in the summer of 2014 when I arrived in glorious sunshine and ended up sheltering from torrential rain within ten minutes. The photos on this page are a mixture, taken on those last two visits.

Upwood is a large village, not too far fron Bury and Ramsey to the east and the Raveleys off to the south. Those making the walk from Bury to Upwood will find it a tad on the busy side with a main road and RAF Upwood to the side of it. The area around the church is beautiful with a pub and some large old houses close by, the lot being surrounded by trees. It was lovely to be here and the noise from crows in the nearby trees was astonishing.
There was mention of a church here in the Domesday Survey of 1086, and it is thought that a church has existed on this site since Saxon times. Inside, the chancel arch dates back to 1100 whilst two arches in the North Arcade date from 1150. The West window is 13th Century whilst the South door is known, confusingly, as the West door!! Named such after a charitable lady with the surname West. The Lady Chapel was restored in memory of those in the locality who lost their lives in the Two World Wars. There is also one name remembered who lost his life in the Korean war.
  In the chancel, there is a memorial to Peter Pheasant, Justice of the King's Bench, wo died in 1649, and Mary (de Bruges) his wife. A pheasant sits on top of the pheasant coat of arms, whilst at the bottom of the monument a winged skull with hourglass perched on top symbolises the mortality of man to all who care to take note.
  The tower was rebuilt in the late 13th century, but due to subsidence, it had to be rebuilt again at the end of the 19th century. You will notice from the photographs included of the exterior that St Peter is very heavily buttressed on all sides. There are three bells here, with the tennor bell having the name Henry Cromwell inscribed on it. It is thought that this bell might have originally hung at Great Raveley church, which was destroyed before the Reformation. My own records indicate that this bell was re-cast by Tobias of the Stamford bellfoundry in 1615.
  The treble bell is inscribed "John Gregory Thomas Charter churchward 1709" and the middle bears the inscription "A penitente harte is goode". An inventory of 1549 states that one bell that hung at St Peter was sold was the princely sum of £7!
  One very nice aspect of the interior was a lovingly kept volume of photographs, kept under glass, which features photographs of every First World War soldier from the village who fought in that conflict. Photographs were taken by the local vicar at the time and each soldier has his own page. Pages are turned over regularly.
There are some fragments of medieval stained glass to be seen here. These are in the top of two south windows in the nave. Very fragmented but there appears to be some sections of what would have been a castle and some human heads. All of the human heads have full, golden hair.
  The churchyard has been closed for burials for many years, to my mind, the church grounds here represent one of the best and most interesting churchyards that I have seen whilst photographing for this site. For this reason, I have devoted more space on this page to the church grounds than I have done in other pages on this site.. The quality of some of the carvings on the gravestones is remarkable. A lot of these date from the mid 18th Century, but one grave, standing at a precarious angle and with the symbol of an hourglass on it denoting the passing of time, has the still legible date of 1687 on it. Some of the carvings reminded me of the work on show in the church grounds at Ramsey, and considering the close proximity, that is not unreasonable.
  On my first visit here, some of the locals were cleaning the church in readiness for the following days service. A man went off to find me a copy of the church history, when he returned, he showed me what is reputed to be a Seventeenth Century plague pit at the north west end of the churchyard. The plague is reputed to have been brought to Upwell by a member of the Cromwell family, in a bale of cloth. The mass grave is said to have been dug just outside the original church wall. A subsequent wall now enclosed the reputed plague pit, with the area heavily covered in ivy.
It is always good, and appreciated very much, when people connected with a church are prepared to show a visitor around. Certainly, it was the case here and thepeople were pleased that someone was taking an interest. The church is kept open during daylight hours and it is also good to see that the church is well used. Evidence of children's church is posted up on the walls, wirth a very well made picture of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, catching the eye. Sometimes, I attend a church and feel sad that things seem to be dying. I have attebded church service with a congregation of the proverbial two men and a dog. It is good to visit village churches such as St Peter, with its committed congregation and I leave feeling that England is not the secular country that some would have you believe.

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