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Dissertation as Tourism

St. Oswald's— Home of the Findern Arms in 14th century Stained Glass

So on Saturday and Sunday, Shelly and Erin indulged me and we wandered about to places where "my" gentry lived, worshipped and were buried. The weather broke and we had overcast, cool days to wander about the countryside. While I finished up work at the Records Office on Saturday morning, Erin and Shelly went over to Arbor Low, a stone circle that is called, "The Stonehenge of Derbyshire." They picked me up and we did lunch at our usual pub, The greyhound. The first stop on the Dissertation Tourism Extravaganza was a bit of stained glass with the Findern Heraldry at St. Oswald's, the parish church for Ashbourne. The church is a mostly 13th century building, on the site of an older Saxon church, with a 14th century spire. (Welcome to church architecture in Derbyshire.)

The three of us wandered around trying to identify the arms of the Finderns and were just getting nowhere. I finally had to go out to the car and get my notes. Rossell Hope Robbins (of course, it was an article by Robbins— I'm a Russell Hope Robbins stalker apparently), well he had described the glass as: "Argent a chevron between three patty-fitchy crosses azure." So, beating my brains to bring up enough Norman French to read the blazon, I continued walking around and finally located it in the Chancel. (Thanks Rossell for not mentioning WHERE in the church the arms were!)

One of the things that struck me the most was how filled the church was with heraldry. The gentry in death are really about their role as warriors and descendents of a family. If you are heraldically inclined you'll perhaps enjoy all the photos below, since I think I managed to photograph all the arms in the stained glass. If you are not so minded, perhaps you'll want to just look at the Findern arms, rejoice that I found it, and let your eye glide along to other pictures.

Iona Links

We stayed for an evening prayer service taken from the Iona useage book. Erin asked if that was normal, for a church in England to choose to do a service from Iona. We all agreed, Iona was cool, because, well, important medievally stuff was done there, but no clue why a congregation in Derbyshire would pick it up. This is exactly why one has to buy the guide books everywhere one goes— (Erin is now converted and buys all the guides as assiduously as I do)— the church's guide book said that St. Oswald is an Anglo-Saxon saint, and an unusual choice for a church. So likely enough, that's the name of the original Anglo-Saxon church, which may have been founded by missionaries from Iona who came into Derbyshire. The story of Oswald is that he spent several years at Iona in exile before coming back and regaining his father's lands in 634 at the battle of Hexam. (Anglo-Saxon Saints are a wee bit more agressive than your average martyr.) Anyway, so, lots of connections to Iona.

The service actually sounded a little Anglo-Saxony to me. They often create kennings for God like "the measurer." The Iona service called God, "Comforter, Disturber, Interpreter, Enthuser, Lamplighter, Revealer, Midwife of Change." I appreciated the way it kept listing paradoxes, pushing one to think about how the nature of God is not contained in any one concept or word, but is rather, the paradox between them. Shelly was tagged as a lay-reader, so the vestry person who led the service asked her to read the scripture.

We were sitting directly underneath the bell tower, so the bell ropes were tied up in a circle all above our heads. The service started with the bells above us ringing their "peal" (their special sequence of notes that means "St. Oswald's") The woman had warned us that after the peal you had to wait a long time before the bells would toll the number of the hour. I thought it would be just a pause. Nope. It was after more like 25 seconds, which I'm ashamed to say, to my harried little self, felt like at least a full minute. That also was also an aspect of the Iona service— the emphasis on listening and waiting in silence, on quieting the mind enough to be still.

If you wish to try your hand at waiting in silence, here is my recording of the peal, the long pause, and the hour tolls. You may have to turn the volume up. (Bells, of course, being made to ring outside louder than inside the church.

Pretty Pics:

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version and enter a slideshow of the larger versions.

Cooler Weather Means Breakfast on the Patio
Cooler Weather Means Breakfast on the Patio
…the Patio by the Croquet Field and Fountain
…the Patio by the Croquet Field and Fountain
Last look at our Pub in Matlock, The Greyhound
Last look at our Pub in Matlock, The Greyhound
Erin Plotting Our Course
Erin Plotting Our Course
Ashbourne Parish Church St Oswald's
Ashbourne Parish Church St Oswald's
George Elliot wrote that this was the finest spire in England. And indeed, it is a mighty 14th c. spire. (Which the poor vestry must continue to allocate money to reinforce about every 50 years or so.)
Fortunate Vestry!
Fortunate Vestry!
Fortunately for Ashbourne church, there was a vicarage that could be torn down next to the church, so that a building with modern bathrooms and a fellowship hall and kitchen could be built. (Most of the medieval churches in the little villages have no toilets or running water.)
DSC01698
DSC01698
Gilding the Cock
Gilding the Cock
The church has a poster touting the courage of the person who had to climb up to get the weather cock down in the 1800s, so that it could be reguilded.
13th c Portal
13th c Portal
The chancel and the transepts of the church are from the early 13th c. The Nave with the tower and spire are later 13th and 14th c. additions.
North Transept
North Transept
DSC01703
DSC01703


Pre-Raphaelite Window in the Nave
Pre-Raphaelite Window in the Nave
This glass commemorates two sisters, Monica and Dorothea that died in a house fire in 1901.
DSC01708
DSC01708
Organ Pipes Above the Choir
Organ Pipes Above the Choir
Ive never seen painted organ pipes before
Ive never seen painted organ pipes before
It had a harp in it
It had a harp in it
Decorated Roof
Decorated Roof
The Chancel
The Chancel
Heraldry Glass over the Chancel
Heraldry Glass over the Chancel
This is the window I came to see. It's from the upper glass is from the 1390s and has the Findern arms in the third column from the right in the top glass. The heraldry are all the coats of arms of families of the Honour of Tutbury. The center arms are John of Gaunt, Lord of the Manor of Ashbourne in the late 14th c , whose estates included Tutbury Castle. (The bottom glass is from 1896. )
The Findern Arms
The Findern Arms
The top shield in the middle strip is the Findern arms. (Argent a chevron between three crosses patty-fitchy sable — or in English, the white shield with a black chevron that has three black crosses with flared top and side arms and a pointy bottom.)
The right side (that has the Findern Arms)
The right side (that has the Findern Arms)
Very interesting to think that the Findern family would have possibly had some contact with John of Gaunt, as he was a noble neighbor to their estate in Tutbury. Chaucer was part of his affinity we think, so that might explain part of why the Finderns, Cottons, Francises, etc were well connected enough to borrow so many books with Chaucer's early works.
Left side
Left side
The vestry person who was there to conduct an Iona evening prayer service, said that they are going to catalog their stained glass in the near futre, but hadn't yet. She was interested to learn that the Findern arms were in one of their windows.
Saints to the left
Saints to the left
Saints to the Right
Saints to the Right
Standing in the choir, looking back at the chancel
Standing in the choir, looking back at the chancel
Cockayne
Cockayne
A monument to a local 16th c. family, Thomas and Dorothy Cockayne and their ten children. Notice the heraldry and the little children figures. These features were really common in the 15th and 16th c graves in this area that I saw.
Dividing the shields
Dividing the shields
Notice also that the shield at the top shows 11 coats of arms to show the family lineage. The Gentry— they are ALL about genealogy.
And yet more coats of arms
And yet more coats of arms
Francis Cokayne (d 1538) and his wife Dorothy, although the tomb only has Francis as his wife remarried and is buried elsewhere.
The dominant feature of the tomb is the family lineage
The dominant feature of the tomb is the family lineage
And a bit tucked at one end...
And a bit tucked at one end...
… and the other.
… and the other.
The medallions are 13th c.
The medallions are 13th c.
These are the oldest windows in the church and were just recently restored by the York Glaziers Trust. The faces of the figures are no longer visible, but the scenes from Christ's childhood are still recognizable.
From the Time of the Finderns
From the Time of the Finderns
Sir John Bradbourne (d. 1483) and his wife Anne Vernon (d. 1499) Notice Anne is wearing a cockle shell necklace? The two founded a chantry chapel at this church. (That's a chapel where an extra priest is hired to pray for the souls of their family.)
Lion under his feet
Lion under his feet
Dogs were under hers?
Dogs were under hers?
15th c. Armor (his head is pillowed on his helm)
15th c. Armor (his head is pillowed on his helm)
14th c. Effigies (But the wife was booted off)
14th c. Effigies (But the wife was booted off)
Sir John Cockagyne (d. 1372) was originally buried with his wife, but her figure was booted when his son died fighting at Shrewsbury in the rebellion of Hotspur against Henry VI. So now their are two male figures on the tomb. (Though we assume mum is still inside.)
The son who booted his mum
The son who booted his mum
Heraldry of Families allied with the Cockaynes.
Heraldry of Families allied with the Cockaynes.
And yet more...
And yet more...
And yet more...
And yet more...
The
The "Star" of their Monumnents
To Penelope (1791)- Only child of Sir Brooke and Dame Susanna Boothby . She was in form and intellect most exquisite. The unfortunate parents ventured their all on this frail bark and the wreck was total.
Surviving heraldic glass
Surviving heraldic glass
And more...
And more...
and more...
and more...
and yet more...
and yet more...
and still more….
and still more….
And even more...
And even more...
These look suspiciously tidy, so I think these are more modern.
These look suspiciously tidy, so I think these are more modern.
And this.
And this.
And these...
And these...
Three Green Men on a column
Three Green Men on a column
This is the center, and most noticeable one.
Peeking out from under his arm
Peeking out from under his arm
Face among the leaves
Face among the leaves

Chaucer's "White" from the Death of the Duchess
This is perhaps Contess Blanche, the first wife of John of Gaunt. She inherited the manor of Ashbourne from her father in 1361, and it probably passed through her marriage to John of Gaunt.
Erin in the Nave, facing the chancel
Erin in the Nave, facing the chancel
Outside of the Heraldry Window in the Chancel
Outside of the Heraldry Window in the Chancel