Friday, 30 May 2008

Rambling Roses



Looking out of the window this past week you could be fooled into thinking that we have fast forwarded to Winter half term, grey skies, rain, rain and more rain. Not that this is the view from my window - mine offers views of half munched plants left over from the National Snails' Convention that seems to take place daily in my garden. But I'm rambling already - what we wanted was to go in search of views like this. No car, proper walking, picnic lunch and rain macs.



So the other day we took a train to here. A little village nestling in the Downs that we have driven to many times before but this time decided to meander around on foot and walk on to another village across country.



I really love this part of the country even when it's grey the greenness of the softy rolling Downs and the beauty of the plants never fails to move me. One of my favourite, gentle books is "A Postillion Struck by Lightning" by Dirk Bogarde. It is the first part of his autobiography and he writes of a seemingly idyllic childhood where he spent long periods in his family's house in this part of the South Downs. It is a beautiful book.



We had no plan really other than to visit our favourite church. So we walked past our favourite country pub (not without some wavering) and soon arrived here:




St Michael and All Angels Church in Berwick Village. It is such a beautiful church dating from mid 12th century. Nestled amongst the Downs, in a quiet pretty village, on passing you would have no idea of the other treasures that it holds. Inside it is tranquill and still, the views from the windows reflecting its beauty. The stained glass of the windows had been destroyed by bombs during the war and were replaced by plain glass making the church lighter and brighter. What makes it so special for me are its wonderful murals and paintings. Just a few miles from the church lived the artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell (their beuatiful home is perhaps our favourite place to visit) and they were asked to paint the church. It was a bold and brilliant idea. (it might be worth clicking on the following photos to enlarge them).



The Nativity by Vanessa Bell. It is set firmly in local countryside - a Sussex barn, the Downs in the background and local shepherds used as models. It's lovely soft muted colours work so beautifully in its setting.



This wonderful painting is by Duncan Grant, he has incorporated kneeling figures of local serviceman and churchmen.




Below it on the Chancel Screen are The Four Seasons, Dawn and Sunset. These illustrate typical Sussex rural scenes of the time.



My favourite is the pulpit. Originally painted by Vanessa Bell but later destroyed by vandals, it was replaced by work from Duncan Grant using designs from, their daughter, Angelica Garnett.



Each panel is a wonderful painting of fruit and flowers and the colours and detail are just so typical of their nearby home at Charleston.



I have always loved the soft dove, almost lilacy grey that they used.
Inside the Chancel there are wonderful frescoes by Vanessa Bell's son, Quentin Bell.



This is one is so beautiful and its delicate tones and lines remind me of the many illustrations and designs of the Bloomsbury group.



If you're ever passing by, it really is worth a visit. It is a church firmly set in the countryside and a church that has let the countryside in.
So we walked on and on.



Passing beautiful cottages,



seeing lots of cows, rabbits and a heron.



With our arms held high to avoid the nettles and our legs flagging we finally got to Alfriston for our picnic.



Another gorgeous house to admire (of which there are many here). This being one of our kind of rambles we of course come on the day when everything is closed and the next bus to the station is 3 hours later!



But it didn't really matter, we stopped for ice creams and the walk back didn't really seem that long. It was the next day when I tried to move my legs that I noticed!



Fingers crossed for a sunny weekend - have a good one
x

44 comments:

carolyn said...

What a truly lovely church, indeed what a lovely walk.

a home far away said...

Such a beautiful church and it seemed that you saw so many lovely sceneres during your walk!

I have a "competition" at my blog with 2 prices, please join it:-)

Hugs from Singapore

Cowboys & Custard said...

England at it's very best Kim...

The Chancel screen is fabulous and I will have to earmark this church as yet another place to visit on our return to Sussex...
We can never walk past a country church without peeking inside.. many hold fabulous treasures as you said.

Love
Michelex

Heidi said...

What a wonderful walk Kim! Thanks for taking me along. That church is so amazing and unique. I loved so much of it but especially the Nativity painted on the ceiling. It is so real if you know what I mean.

Our weather has not had lots of rain as much as only some drizzle but far too much wind. It is like autumn when you look outside but it is too warm for autumn. Very odd mood that Mother Nature is in lately. My fingers are crossed your weekend is better.

Hugs ~
Heidi

Curlew Country said...

Thanks so much for cheering up my very busy, bleary, generally bleeugh day at work Kim. Stunning church, the paintings remind me of medieval wall paintings that most churches were decorated with before the Reformation. The chapel at Haddon Hall near us still has some orignials left but most church paintings disappeared under a lot of zealous Victorian white-wash! Thasnk for sharing these.
Stephx

Simone said...

I am not a big fan of churches. I feel uncomfortable going inside them even though I was married in one! There is no denying though of the beauty of the architecture and murals and paintings inside. I am a fan of country walks though even in the rain although the rest of my family don't share my enthusiasm for such jaunts!

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

Oh I just loved your "Window to the World"! Thanks for sharing :o)

ShabbyInTheCity said...

For me to take a walk like this would be a dream!!! Those paintings are just wonderful. I love the countryside and the views from those windows...

Connie said...

What a lovely excursion that must have been. I'm enthralled looking at scenes of the English countryside! Just wonderful, sweetpea!!
Smoochies,
Connie

periwinkle said...

What a lovely walk , church and houses. Sometimes it's nice just to get out and about with nature
Lisa x

Tracy said...

For all the gray skies, it still looks wonderful there! :o) That church is a amazing...The interior is breathtaking! Happy weekend to you all ((HUGS))

callmemadam said...

Thank you for that lovely post. I love Charleston but Berwick is new to me. Alfriston was my mother's favourite place in the world, so it was nice to see that, too.

Paul Sears Photography said...

your photos are beautiful and such a great inspiration. I do a lot of blog surfing for inspiration for my photography. Makes me want to come visit, explore and shoot!

Emma Herian said...

What a lovely walk, I will have to bend your ear for directions on that one. I love that period of history, I have a yearning to be there, the colours, costumes, furniture.......... maybe a past life?
Have a good weekend
Em x

April said...

What a beautiful church

April xx

~~ATTIC CLUTTER~~ said...

Lovely pictures I did soo-so-so-so-soo enjoy them (:) hugs Patty

Sal said...

A fabulous walk,a gorgeous church.. and I love your photos! Sal;-)

Rosie said...

Isn't that beautiful! Just how churches used to be.

Rosie x

silverpebble said...

Part of the same snail convention ate my fennel and then went to sleep on the stump!

What a gorgeous walk, and the paintings in that church are stunning. Ever been to the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Hampshire? Fantastic Stanley Spencer murals.

silverpebble said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mollycupcakes said...

Hello Kim,
A beautiful day and such lovely photos s always sweetie.
Thanks for taking us on that wonderful journey.
Have a great weekend.
Hugs.

Catherine x

French Knots said...

How wonderful to join you on such a lovely walk.
The church is so unusual, what amazing paintings.

Mirre said...

*Sigh* I really really want to go to England!!

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Kim. {Very Big Sigh} I just love it when you post your walks. Here's my new dream: Someday I'll come to England and you'll take me on one of your walks. Ahhhhh.

BeachysCapeCodCupboard said...

Everything is so gorgeous where you live, Kim! All the history and buildings and artwork and scenery! I swear I've been through that train station before... the name sounds soooo familiar!

Have a beautiful weekend! =)

LOUISE @ HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS said...

The weather on the whole has been dismal, and to go for a ramble seems like a good idea. Berwick is such a lovely place, that signal box definitely takes you back in time. What a church, I must get to see those paintings, they really are works of art. Alfriston is another very pretty village, your photos remind me of very happy days spent outdoors in the sunshine! as a child. x

Alison Boon said...

I thoroughly enjoyed that walk. Where to next?

Jackie M said...

Beautiful photos and words as always Kim. I must visit that church, I can't believe I have never been there, thanks for sharing with us. Jackie Mx

Country Cottage Chic said...

Lovely photos & a great day out!

dottycookie said...

I have only one word for you - BADGERS!

I can't believe we drove past the station at least six times last week and didn't stop to look in the village. And I only realised Charleston was there the night before we left. Argh. We'll be back in the next school holidays so maybe we can divert then!

Elizabethd said...

The Bloomsbury group left a fascinating legacy. I have never been to that Church, but have now 'bookmarked' it as somewhere to see when we are next in England.
Beautiful photos Kim, thank you for the 'tour'.

Cathy said...

What a lovely day and amazing church - well worth the sore legs!
Cathy X

K said...

National Snails Convention - ha. I have some delegates I could send from Scotland, if you like...

Your walk looks lovely. Maybe the sun is shining on you by now, since our week started out cold and damp as well, but I am now sunburned.

Jennie said...

What gorgeous pictures Kim!

Sally's Chateau said...

What a relaxing blog, I found you through Elizabethd and I love your shots taken through windows.

Rowan said...

What a wonderful post, the photographs are superb. I love the Downs but only know West Sussex so my next visit will be to East Sussex to visit Charleston, Monks House and Berwick church. The murals are marvellous, I especially like the Four Seasons ones. I shall visit Alfriston too checking to see when it's open first though:) I've so enjoyed reading this.

Vintage Amethyst said...

Oh my, lovely lovely photos.
What wonderful cottages.
A lovely day altogether.
love Alison x

Heidi Ann said...

Kim, Kim, Kim.....Another amazingly lovely post!!!!....After visiting your blog, I am about ready to book a trip to England!....or at least the part where you live!!! The scenery, the beautiful old church, the cows, & the rose covered house!! I'm not sure which I love more!...For those of us that live where buildings are so much newer, I just again want you to know how very much I apprecite you sharing this lovely area in which you live!....Have a great week ahead!....Your friend, Heidi :)

Lavender hearts said...

It is lovely round here. I like the Cricketers too, lovely little pub and the food is great.

Lucy Bloom said...

Hi Kim, what a lovely day out, the inside of that church is amazing. Hope your weekend was good!
Lucy x

Isabelle said...

Lovely photos indeed. I never realised that there was a Berwick down your way.

Heidi Ann said...

Hi Kim, Just wanted to let you know I chose you as one of the deserving people for the Arte Y Pico award. I think you really deserve it!......heidi :)

meggie said...

Thankyou for letting me share this wonderful walk with you.

Rachael Rabbit said...

Such beautiful beautiful pictures. I seriously think that England is one of the most beautiful places in the world ... but I guess that is my homesickness kicking in!