While I was working on Tuesday evening, my sweetie was planning a Big Day Out to take advantage of Wednesday’s predicted good weather, probably one of the last warm days of 2016. Once the schools traffic had died down we drove out into the countryside, past picturesque buildings and farms. (Yes, that seriously cute barn really does have a thatched roof!)
Our destination for the morning was the tiny village of Copford in northeast Essex. We’ve been researching some of the churches in the area, realising that some of them contain some very interesting and unique features. The parish church of St. Michael and All Angels is one of those gems. Constructed around 1130, the church was probably built as the chapel for the early Norman bishops.
Exquisitely decorated, and famed for its stunning wall frescoes it manages to be both extremely beautiful and completely welcoming. There are some 34 works of religious scenes from the 12th century which cover most of the walls, including this amazing Zodiac panel arching overhead. Each image is its own little masterpiece:
Similarly, the modern kneeling cushions are works of art in their own right, some of them replicating the scenes from the frescoes overhead.
In addition,here are also small 20th century carvings on the choir benches that show the reverence the congregation still has for the small creatures of the natural world. I found these particularly touching in a way that brought balance to the magnificence of the ancient frescoes. For me, Spirit should permeate our daily lives as certainly as it does in our cathedral moments – and this little church manages to reflect the wholeness of Creation with its splendid artwork that bridges the centuries.
Along with its art, this church clearly houses an active and interesting congregation.The informational signs are welcoming and stand amongst indicators of regular worship and fellowship activities, including my favourite, Father Fred’s bookshelf where donated books are offered to new readers for a small donation to the church. I felt welcome.