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St Andrew, Lamas
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Lamas is the prettier half of the village of Buxton. It sits on a hillside north of the Bure, away from the main road on the other side. The church is beautifully placed on the banks of the river, down a long grassy path beside a paddock from the village street. The horses seemed to be guarding it.
The most remarkable thing about St Andrew is the extreme degree to which the chancel weeps - that is to say, is out of alignment with the nave. This kind of thing is more common than you might suppose, because chancels and naves were, until the 14th century at least and often beyond, built separately, and often on the foundations of an earlier building. But the chancel here isn't so much weeping as turning a corner, and it is all the more surprising to discover that it is the work of a 19th century rebuilding. Reset in the chancel wall is a poignant 18th century memorial to John and James Utting, two young children who died within ten days of each other in 1747. Interestingly, it gives a phonetic spelling of the neighbouring village of Hautbois as 'Hobbis'.
Well, it had to happen sooner or later. I had been cycling since 9 o'clock, and since leaving Worstead station I had visited 17 churches; for the first time, I had come to one that was locked. Actually, I knew that it would be locked, because the sign on the gate said so, helpfully identifying a keyholder. But keyholders are never in on a Saturday, so I didn't bother. And it seemed entirely pointless, keeping it locked, because it is no more remote or vulnerable than any of its neighbours, all of which I had found open; and besides, the only things of value here are the heraldic roundels in the windows, and these might as easily be stolen or vandalised from the outside as from within, I suppose. Fortunately, Peter Stephens, one of this site's guardian angels, came up with some pictures of the inside for us - you can see them below.
But the setting is so lovely that I forgave the churchwardens for their caution immediately. I went and sat on the bench under the willow on the river bank, and watched the sun flash on the fast flowing water, a bevy of young ducklings tumble over each other as their mother rounded them up, large brown fish in the shallows hanging languidly just below the surface - and, before I succumbed completely to Arthur Mee-style sentimentalism, got my mobile out and made a couple of calls. Odd how there always seems to be a good signal in the most out of the way places.
Simon Knott, April 2005
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