August 24th, 2019

The Culpepper Chapel, Hollingbourne

The Culpepper chapel is tacked onto the north side of the chancel of Hollingbourne church. It was built in 1638 by Sir Thomas Culpeper, not only as a monument to his wife Elizabeth- "best of women, best of wives, best of mothers"- but as a family cenotaph. Elizabeth's tomb- the work of the distinguished sculptor Edward Marshall, later to be appointed master mason to the crown- occupies the centre of the building, while round the walls are stone shields designed to be filled with the coats of arms of the succeeding generations of Culpeppers. As it was, the family quit the area shortly after the chapel was built and most the shields are blank.

Elizabeth was a Cheney- and her sturdy, square-toed shoes rest against the flank of her family's heraldic animal- a very rare spotty beast called a theow- which- with its canine head and body, hooves and long, tasselled tail- is as close as the medieval mind came to realising a hyena.

Part Way Through A Bank Holiday Heatwave

We thought our summer was over- and we were wrong. Today, for the first time this year I decided that socks were inappropriate and ran a pair of sandals to earth. The heatwave is expected to continue through the long, bank holiday weekend.

On Tuesday we're booked to go to Colchester. I've been consulting Simon Knott's extraordinary East Anglian Churches website to see if there were any unmissable churches along our projected line of travel. There aren't. But then Knott and I aren't always looking for the same things- and a church he loves might leave me untouched and vice versa. For instance he loves Victorian glass and knows tons of stuff about its designers and makers while I mostly avert my eyes. And what do I look for? I asked myself. And myself replied, "Anything Romanesque, anything grotesque, any tomb earlier than 1700, and whatever still exists of medieval glass or painting."