St Marys Church
The following information is taken from a pamphlet available at the church for interested persons.
" The church standing today almost certainly replaced an earlier building. Lysons, in his "Magna Brittania" states that Bartlow is the church built by King Canute in 1020 AD in repartion for the blood spilt in the battle of Assandune (Ashdon) between the Saxons and the Danes. This is disputed by later authorities and Ashingdon in South Essex is the most likely site of the battle.
An anchorite is recorded at Bartlow in 1279, and chaplains in 1366, 1406 and 1468.
The present church belongs in the main to the decorated period from about 1300AD. The north and south windows of the Chancel are of this period as is the nave which, however, has some perpendicular insertions. The East window is from about 1500AD and probably replaced smaller windows. The Round Tower is Norman and of a kind rare in Cambridgehire. Its walls are about five feet thick at their bases. The porch is perpendicular; the communion rail is 17th century and has notable balusters.
The wall paintings are of great interest and date from the 15th century.
- St Michael weighing the soul. The devil is seen trying to weigh the scales in his favour but is thwarted by Our Lady using her influence on behalf of the sinner being judged.
- St Christopher. This is only the top half of a much larger picture. On his left shoulder is seen the Christ Child.
- Over the door is St George and the Dragon. Only the dragon remains.
On 13th July 2014 the task of conserving and restoring the wall paintings was completed. Funds raised through the Bartlow Three Counties Walk and from grants including £29,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund mad ehe restoration possible.
Excerpts from the Press Release:
...Although a combination of damp, time and misguided previous conservation efforts have damaged the paintings, under the expert hands of Tobit Curteir and his multi national team of associates, Biana Madden, Claudi Fiochetti and Miguel Aguìlar, the paintings are absolutely coming to life; this is particulalry tru of St Christopher who is positively glowing. Details emerging include Christ's robe, St Chrisopher's beard, the frapery and the Orb. St Christopher is our most sophisticated painting whereas St Michael is actually a grey/white/black monochrome work known as 'griseille' which gives the effect of a releif sculpture. An interesting aside here is that the Devil's scaly elbow turns out to have a face painted on it, proving that so frequently a medieval artist will allow some humour to creep into his or her work...
... most of our churches had fully painted interiors (how many now?) and Bartlow's three paintings would have been part of a colourful collection of images that drew the eye this way and that...
Stained Glass: The East window is by Clayton and Bell c 1881. There are traces of medieval canopy work in the North and South Chancel windows.
St Mary's was targeted by puritan William Dowsing on his travels through the county in March 1643.
Bartlow, March 20. We brake down a crucifix, and a Holy Lamb, and 10 superstitious pictures, and gave order to take downe three crosses in stone, and to level the steps.
'Extracted from Trevor Cooper (ed.), The Journal of William Dowsing: iconoclasm in East Anglia during the English Civil War, Woodbridge, 2001'. and found on the web.
Photos courtesy of Rob Steggle.