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St Mary, Ashby
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After the wilds of the marshland, Ashby is a comfortable little place, the high tower and long low nave and chancel of its church apparently oddly matched beside the village street. Quirky, you might say, as are the two gravestones beside the path which depict their occupants in the fullness of life, feeding flocks of ducks and geese. If the light had been better I would have photographed them - or, at least, I did, but they did not produce an image worth sharing. The 17th century memorial reset on the wall of the church didn't fare much better, though you can make out the grinning skull. Inside the porch it was duller, but the magnificent Norman south door, so similar to that at Heckingham which is depicted on the notice board beside it, seemed to suit the half light.
The body of the church has been punctuated with late medieval windows - how dark it must have been before this happened! Even now, it was hard to make out much inside. The font is the great curiosity - as at nearby Thurton, it is a late 17th century replacement, probably after the original was removed from the church during the Commonwealth. Oddly, the apparently Jacobean font cover is nothing of the sort, but a Victorian confection. It is interesting, though perhaps a little unlikely, that the Ashby Victorians were happy to match an existing item when the style of it must have been anathema to them.
The poor box beside it is much older, but the greatest curiosity here is the roundel of foreign glass in the east window. A angel holds what appear to be two heraldic shields. It is dated 1604, and has an inscription that is not immediately decipherable - is it abbreviated French?
The altar rails are also Jacobean (real this time) but justr in case you don't think the Victorians bit hard here, and even if you are ignoring the tiled floors and polished woodwork, you can't miss The Light of the World, a copy of the Holman Hunt painting which was mass-produced in glass during the later years of the 19th century.
Simon Knott, February 2005
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