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St Nicholas, Bracon Ash
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Nicholas, Bracon Ash
There is no tower, and probably never was. Until about a century ago there was a bellcote, but since this fell the bell has been rung in a frame to the south of the nave; this has recently been renewed. From the north, the most striking feature is the wholly classical 18th century Berney mausoleum built against the wall of the chancel. This has a large portico that mimics an entrance, with a porthole-like round window. This in turn is echoed by blind windows to east and west. The actual entrance to the mausoleum is inside, as we shall see.
On the south side is an elegant aisle with its own pitched roof. This is something of a curiosity, because the windows appear to predate the arcade; but Pevsner suggests that a bequest of the 1370s may account for both, the first late in style and the second early.
St Nicholas has a fair number of hatchments for such a small church, and the George III royal arms are still set above the chancel arch in a pedimented frame, which is a curiosity.
And so, to the Berney mausoleum. This is fascinating, if rather macabre. Unlike the kind of 'mausoleum' you so often find in a parish church, its walls lined with grand monuments to the dead and with a family pew for the living, this is the real thing. On either side of a central corridor there are lines of coffin holes. Those to the east are now all full, with many remaining on the west side. As each hole was filled it was sealed with an inscribed slate slab, but there is no intention of disguising what is actually going on. It is worth coming to see.
Simon Knott, January 2006
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