December 4th, 2019

St Michael, Aynho

Neoclassical churches are a rarity in the English countryside- for obvious reasons. By the time neoclassicism was all the rage most towns and villages already had a medieval church- and why be at the expense of making a new one? The Cartwrights at Aynho (it had to have been the Cartwrights; their monuments are all over the shop) thought otherwise. They demolished the old church (only they kept the tower) and had Edward Wing build them a new one in the preferred style. If they'd have had this inspiration a century later (that is if they'd been Victorians) I'd have been griping at them, but Wing's St Michael, Aynho is magnificent. I can't deplore it.

The interior is plain to the point of bleakness- just a big rectangular room, but I liked this little side chapel/mausoleum.

The mausoleum contains this real oddity; it's French and 17th century and the plaque at the base says it was presented to a convent chapel by Louis XIII. I assume some Cartwright picked it up in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars when continental junk shops were overflowing with remnants of the old regime. I suppose the flanking figures are meant to be the Virgin and St John but I've never seen them looking so Greek.

These tombstones predate the church (they date from c 1700). The high relief carving is characteristic of the Northants- North Oxfordshire region.