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St Andrew, Thursford
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On a bright day in early May, there can be few lovelier sights than St Andrew sitting in its little hollow in the fields. There isn't really a Thursford village - the placename is famous for the collection of pipe organs a mile or so away - and you have to go down narrow, hilly lanes to find the drive to the Hall, and St Andrew.
Even from a distance, you can see that the Victorians were busy here. In fact, apart from the tower and the north doorway, it is an almost complete early 1860s rebuilding from the ground up. The three light Early English windows at the east end are imposing, to say the least, and were done to the taste of the Chadd family of Thurston Hall - the southerly of the two windows is in the wall of their family chapel. The Chadds paid for the rebuilding, by W Lightly. Their Hall sits about forty metres to the south of St Andrew, and they were paying for what they got - a view. Although the south side of the church is hidden from the road and the drive, it is the more elaborate, with some thoroughly urban-looking gargoyles, who might be on country retreat from Notre-Dame in Paris.
In general, the inside does not live up to the outside. It is a dull, gloomy interior, with some fairly mean furnishings. The south transept, the Chadd family chapel, is most curious, being on two levels. The upper floor is their family pew, and below this is the Chadd mausoleum.
There is one thing that saves the interior from total mediocrity. This is the Victorian glass. That in the east window is by an artist called Albert Moore, who I had not previously heard of, and it was a commission from Powell and sons. Pevsner dates it as 1862. He's also very fond of it, describing it as one of the most beautiful of its time in England, or indeed Europe. I actually prefer the work in the north and south chancel aisles, also by Powell and son, this time the work of the artist Harry Wooldridge. If asked to guess, I would have placed its monumental style in the 1920s, but apparently it is from the 1870s. I particularly liked Mary of the Annunciation and St Cecilia.
A poignant memorial from the Second World War includes a photograph of the airman commemorated.
Simon Knott, May 2005
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