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Tony Grist

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St Mary In The Marsh [Nov. 8th, 2018|08:59 am]
Tony Grist
As I went down to Dymchurch Wall,
I heard the South sing o'er the land.
I saw the yellow sunlight fall
On knolls where Norman churches stand.

I don't know exactly what route John Davidson took on his day trip to Romney Marsh, but St Mary in the Marsh is a Norman church and it stands on a knoll so it seems likely that the charabanc went past it.

Charabanc? No, that's unfair. Davidson was a late Victorian and late Victorian poets walked- and how! There was a romance attached to travelling folk- tinkers and gypsies and tramps. So let's imagine him on foot, perhaps with his dinner tied up in a handkerchief carried on a stick over his shoulder- and wearing some sort of a wide-brimmed hat. The hat is necessary, not only because everyone wore hats back them but also because Davidson was famously bald and the yellow sunlight would have done horrid things to his gleaming pate...

Sorry, I'm not sure why I'm poking fun. I suppose it's because Davidson was a little high flown- and sometimes wore a toupee. But he was a true poet. And a neglected one. Peace be on him.

St Mary the Virgin in St Mary in the Marsh is a lovely church. And largely unspoiled- as most of the Romney Marsh churches are. The Victorians did a bit of restoring but they kept it in bounds. Money was tight, I suppose, and they left the 18th century box pews and the floor tiles as they were- and forebore to fill the windows up with their assertive and insincerely pious stained glass. Here's a picture of the interior, looking east. It's wonderful to have an east window full of clear glass.



And some details:

This brass commemorates Matilde Jayms and is dated 1499.



And this monk- as bald as John Davidson- decorates the sedilia. Thirteenth century? Yes, I think so.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2018-11-08 03:52 pm (UTC)
That brass is very fine indeed. And how odd that the Victorians restrained themselves from putting in their sometimes garish stained glass, but as you say...money. This little church looks much better without it.

Where is the monk's head located in the church? Because yes, that's very old. I like churches where you can see the layers of their history.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-08 04:14 pm (UTC)
Romney Marsh was an impoverished and out of the way district in the 19th century. The locals did enough work on their churches to keep them from collapsing but that was about all.

The monk's head is a corbel supporting the canopy of the sedilia- which you can see on the wall to the right of the altar in the picture of the church interior.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2018-11-08 04:32 pm (UTC)
Ah..thanks for pointing out where the monk is. I wasn't seeing it in the photo!
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[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2018-11-09 07:45 am (UTC)
That is such a gorgeous church.

...forebore to fill the windows up with their assertive and insincerely pious stained glass...

Exactly! Heavy-handed Victorian glass has destroyed the sense of mystery in many a chancel.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-09 08:51 am (UTC)
No-one ever thinks of removing ugly and inappropriate stained glass. They should. A lot of churches would be improved if they did.
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[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2018-11-10 06:50 am (UTC)
I couldn't agree more. One of my favourite churches, at Nether Cerne, is utterly ruined by appalling, badly degraded Victorian glass.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-11-10 08:06 am (UTC)
One option might be to make under the counter payments to small boys with catapults.

William Brown, your country needs you!
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[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2018-11-10 08:15 am (UTC)
Ha!
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