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All Saints, Barmer
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So we left the car at the entrance to the field, hoping that we weren't blocking the path of any tractors. In any case, the field appeared to have been left fallow since the harvest of the previous year's rape crop, leaving a wide expanse of rigid, sharp stalks from which young rabbits exploded as I tramped.
The Norman round tower is visible from within the copse, but not much else. In fact, work has started on trimming the large trees in the graveyard, opening up new views, especially from the east. The graveyard is still overgrown with nettles and ground elder - I was glad I'd worn sensible shoes.
There is a crispness to the building which becomes apparent as you approach, a reminder that All Saints was, in fact, a ruin for three centuries.
All Saints is kept open for visitors, and you step into a simple, plain 19th century interior. There are no great medieval survivals - how could there be, for it was a ruin from the Reformation onwards. The chancel arch and tower arch both survive from the original Norman church, but have been altered at some time to be pointed. Was this done in the 13th century, or was it Preedy's work? It is in keeping with his chancel, but of course he might have chosen that style to fit in with the rest of the church.
The Victorian furnishings have been replaced by modern chairs, which creates a sense of space and allows Preedy's font to dominate the little nave. If you look up the tower, you can see the single bell.
There are no major Kerslake memorials, just a ledger stone set below the tower arch, recording deaths over a period of a century or so. It must have been written in retrospect, but it makes poignant reading. For example, the deaths of three young brothers is recorded in 1815. John was six, Samuel was three, Francis was just one year old.
Simon Knott, September 2006
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