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St Margaret, Clenchwarton
Well, he couldn't have been nicer. He was a very friendly chap with a large white beard in the Russian Orthodox manner. He gave me the key, we chatted for a while about visiting churches, and then he showed me the shortcut to the church through his garden. The key was to the vestry, and although I usually prefer not to enter a church at the east (it confuses me and I forget to photograph things) I found it to be a small, lovely church inside. My favourite thing of all is the 1928 window at the west end of the north side of the nave by Hardman & Co. It depicts two angels as Faith and Hope, and Christ as Charity. Curly-haired, serious-faced children play at their feet, pretty without being mawkish, and scenes illustrate the virtue below each figure. The window remembers Ellen Mary Stevenson and her work for the Girls' Friendly Society, which was a late 19th Century Anglican society for girls in service away from home. The Society still exists with a different function today.
Pevsner, or his revising editor, confuses the glass in the chancel, but the east window is probably by Charles Gibbs. The side window depicting Amazonian images of Saints Margaret and Catherine is rather good, but it isn't obvious which workshop produced it. Could it be by Clayton & Bell?
The overall feel of the church is of a peaceful spirituality in the Anglo-catholic tradition - not as spiky as neighbouring West Lynn, but very much to my taste. However, I am bound to say that, as with anywhere that a locked church is so close to the homes it is meant to serve, you get a sense that here is the Church of England in its last days, no longer serving all but a home for a small group of determined worshippers growing older and fewer by the year, defending themselves against the world with rituals that become increasingly meaningless as the distance between the church and its outsiders grows. One day there'll be hardly any of them left, and the last few will turn out the lights and lock the door behind them for the last time. Thank God that parishes like this are now few and far between.
Simon Knott, April 2017
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