I'm going to treat you all to a trip out today as realise I never quite finished taking you around Lewtrenchard Church with John Betjeman and I've returned to reading Trains and Buttered Toast the latest Betjeman anthology. I think we'll arrive by virtual steam train. The nearest station at Coryton was opened in 1865, it would surely have been known and used by Sabine Baring Gould.Now a private home but they won't mind.
Cast your mind back or click here and you will recall that the bookhound and I stopped by at Lewtrenchard recently to experience for ourselves and on Betjeman's advice "the loveliest thing in the village", the church of St Petroc.I think you'll agree with him too.
"when you open the door, the full glory of a great rich Devonshire screen bursts upon you, Encrusted with saints and vines and leaves, it cuts across the whole church and through it you may glimpse the altar and monuments"
The original sixteenth century screen was demolished in 1832 but a replica was made from a painting. Money was collected from 1885 and the work finally completed in 1915. Bickford Dickinson's excellent little guide book to the church reveals that all this money was raised locally without the need for a single bazaar or begging letter.The carving was done in its entirety by the Misses Pinwell of Plymouth.
How could I pass on such a Betjeman-esque sight as this stove at the back of the church? How does it go..."The bells of waiting Advent ring, The Tortoise stove is lit again"
And here's the exact view, albeit probably as dark as in his day, that
Sabine Baring Gould must have had as he banged the pulpit with his fist
and uttered surely the most memorable line to end any sermon
"The thing is - do you want to be a cabbage or not?"
Nor can I resist sharing this perfect little corner of this most perfect of Devon churches
There was one mystery, Betjeman notes "A lovely chandelier from
Malines shines from the chancel like gold.." but it shines no more.The
15th century chandelier was bought by Sabine Baring-Gould from the
church of St Jacques, Malines in Belgium in 1880 and installed at
Sadly,100 years later it was stolen. I hope whoever has it enjoys it as much as we would have done had we seen it.