Friday, 6 May 2011

A potted history and the climb up the tower

The Anglican church of St Michael and All Angels, Church Broughton, dates back to the early 14th century. Of course, like the vast majority of our old churches, it has had bits added. The tower is sporting a rather impressive set of pinnacles, some huge gargoyles and a dinky little spire, all of which date back to the Victorians.

Nevertheless, stepping through the main door, the interior of the church has that typical stillness of a place which has been sacred for long ages of time; where generations of worshippers have come to pray and hear God's word, give thanks for new life and mourn the loss of friends departed, celebrate the high seasons of the year and seek guidance in their own personal troubles.  

The thick stone pillars give a sense of solidity; having stood the test of time (though I bet they're a real pain when the church is packed for a special occasion and the only seat left is that one right behind...)

The choir stalls line the sides of the chancel and at the top is the communion table (or altar depending on your churchmanship). Normally this would have stuff on it; candles, maybe flowers and an altar cloth,  but the day I visited was Good Friday and the altar had been stripped as a sign of mourning.

By Easter Sunday, the church would be full of colour; the window ledges decorated with floral displays to mark the most special day in the Christian calendar.

Meanwhile, through a small doorway behind me, a treat awaited! Past the bell ropes, hanging down to the small room in the foot of the tower, and to the right, the spiral stone staircase was waiting.

Stop one on the journey upwards was to see the clock workings. Checking back on my first picture, this was about the half way mark. If you look carefully, you may just be able to see the date, 1864, and the inscription 'William Wilkes, Francis Wragg, Church Wardens.

The current day warden told me that they used to have to get someone in from Derby to service the clock, but they now had a clockmaker living in the village and he was happy to perform the service for them.

Next stop above the clock was the bells. The peal consists of six bells, the last one having been added in memory of Corporal William George Neal DWR (Duke of Wellington Regiment) who have his life in the second world war.

The bell workings had been recently serviced, free of charge, by a band of travellers who made it their mission to tour the country performing that task!

And finally, the last stop! The top :)


  1. You were brave to go up the tower! I don't like heights. This little church seems typical of those the length and breadth of the country, and still a focal point for the community. The churchwarden's next job might be 'topple-testing' some of the gravestones!

  2. Lovely virtual tour. That spire does look odd however : just like they have chopped off the top of another church and stuck it on that one.

  3. Although I love the fact that because my church doesn't have a church building it reminds me of what 'the church' actually is, I do miss sometimes that sacred feeling and beauty of entering an old church building. The view is very pretty :)

  4. This church has a nice feel to it, even from the photographs. Love that house at its foot in the last photo.

  5. Oh wow, what a special place! Loved your description of the silence. Those gnarled trees lining the path are awesome.
    I have award for you at Life is Good
    Thanks for being such a faithful reader at my place.

  6. The photos from the top are wonderful. I love the approach to the church, the trees lining the path with tombstones dotting the lawn

  7. I am fascinated with old churches. This is a wonderful post with photos. Although I haven't been to the UK, I have traveled a few times throughout Ireland and never miss stopping at old ruins, churches and (oddly enough) graveyeards. As an American, the rich, deep history is something I love to revel in.

  8. Just beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I have been in the garden for the past two days so I'm behind with blogging (again!) - What a great post this has been and I especially enjoyed climbing up into the tower to be surprised by that splendid view! Thank you for encouraging me to break away for a while :)