Nave roof and bosses

Coming now down the nave towards the west, we notice in its roof another fine series of 15th century bosses, sadly maltreated a century ago by nails, screws and other disfigurements driven in some cases clean through the centre of the beautiful carving ; the plaster stuff between the beams dates from 1826, when the nave was—vile word and vile process—" underceiled." These bosses, beginning at the chancel arch and working west, are : —

First beam : North — Fleur-de-lys.
Centre —Quatrefoil.
South—Four-leaf flower.
On purlin : North—Shield and spear.
Centre—Four-leaf flower.
South—The three nails.
Second beam : North—Triple chevron (Fitzhugh).
Centre—Bull passant (Nevill).
South—Three escallops (Dacre).
On purlin : North —Four-leaf flower.
Third beam : North —Four-leaf flower.
Centre—Triple chevron.
On purlin : North —Four-leaf flower.
Fourth beam : Mutilated 1823.
On purlin : North —Four-leaf flower.
Fifth beam : North—Four-leaf flower.
Centre—" Horace."
South—Four-leaf flower.

It should be noticed that in putting in the clerestory the economical builders of the 15th century placed a thinner top on the Norman wall, and the difference in thickness can be seen below the windows. Incidentally, the roof was put on in a great hurry ; its eastern beam cuts the line of the chancel arch, and the next beam is not levelled properly. The clerestory walls should have been made a foot higher, for correct proportion. The original steep pitch of the Norman roof can just be traced on the east face of the tower when one is standing on the roof, but is invisible from the ground owing to the parapets.

We have now ended our tour, and are back at our starting-point by the tower arch. Here, under the gallery, visitors will find the collection-box (early 20th century!) for the restoration fund, and it is hoped that, if they have found as much pleasure in this guide and the fine old church as the writer found in compiling it, and if their imagination has been touched awhile by the quiet beauty of the Middle Ages here, they will show tangible appreciation by contributing to the fund.

Having done this, if the visitor now goes into the tower and mounts the stairs to the gallery, he or she will be rewarded for his generosity by a unique grin, or leer, from " Horace," and will be able to see the ravages of the death-watch beetle, and study the nearest of the roof bosses, at close quarters. " Horace," it should be explained, is not a choir-boy. It is the irreverent but appropriate name given by the children to a carved boss up there. He (or it) has a distinct squint, devil's ears, a skew mouth, a flat nose, one cheek puffed up and his tongue hanging out. One likes to think this was some medieval carver's way of taking his revenge in caricature on his foreman or a fellow-craftsman with whom he had a row over the dinner-beer.

Some epitaphs

With the brutal frankness of medieval "Horace" still fresh in our mind's eye, let us now go out into the churchyard and study a few of the gravestones. Here is one (1843 A.D.) which displays an unusual doubt for that period :

Though sudden was the call
We hope she found her way
Through death's dark valley
In to everlasting day.

(The italics are mine.)

Another (1871 A.D.), by the west gate of the churchyard, is inscribed :

My rose cut down just in its bloom
The morning sun went down at noon
You get ready while you have time,
For I'm just cut down in my prime.

The remarkable phenomenon announced in the second line is worthy the attention of the astronomers.

Here is one (1779) which requires a moment or two's thought in order to sort out the lines written by the author before the unpoetic mason did his worst with them :

Go home dear friends and shed no Tears
I must lie here till Christ Appears
and at His coming I hope
To have a joyfull rising from The Grave.

One suspects the hand of the local dominie in the classical feeling of the effusion on the Unwin stone (1812 A.D.) against the east wall of the chancel :

Bold infidelity, turn pale and die, Beneath this stone 3 infants' ashes lye,
Say, are they lost or saved ? If death's by sin, they sinned because they're here,
If heaven's by works, in heaven they can't appear.

Reason, ah how depraved ! But search the Scripture's sacred page, the knot's
untyed : They died, for Adam sinned, they live, for Jesus died.

Another (1801 A.D.), nearby, quotes Pope with local embellishment :

This Modest Stone what few vain Marbles can
May truly Say here lies an Honest Man
A wit's a feather and a chief a rod
An honest man's the noblest work of God.

Finally, there is a grim stone, by the west gateway of the churchyard, to one William Carr, killed in an affray with poachers, and of whom it says that he :

"in the discharge of his duty as a Gamekeeper was Barbarously Murdered October 24th 1821, aged 37 years. He was exemplary as a husband and a father, a most attached and faithful servant, and a pious Christian. His virtuous life enabled him to meet his awfully sudden call with the utmost fortitude, and he died forgiving his Murderers."

It is a real pleasure to see the much-abused word " awfully " used for once in its literal, correct meaning. Sudden death, one reflects, seeing this tragic memorial beneath the shadow of the rugged tower, seems more in keeping with the warring Saxons than with rural England of 1821 ; but peace now broods over the churchyard, and the church that through over a thousand years has seen the pageant of all our English history stands firmly yet, a living monument to the faith of our fathers.