Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thaxted view

click photo to enlarge
The walk from the main streets of Thaxted, Essex - Town Street and Watling Street - up Stony Lane, through the churchyard gates and along the gravel track to the west tower of the medieval church is as architecturally eventful as any in England.

Leaving the shopping streets you immediately pass the Guildhall of 1450, a lime-washed, three-storey, timber-framed building that includes an eighteenth century "lock-up" (gaol). Across from it are three, three-storeyed houses that are jettied at each floor, buildings that date from the early 1400s and still show walls, timber and windows of that period, as well as sixteenth and seventeenth century additions. Behind the Guildhall is an even older house that was built in the early 1300s, heavily modified in the 1800s, and given the local, moulded plaster "pargetting" in the twentieth century. Other houses up the lane date from subsequent centuries, and nestle into their location with great charm. The church of St John the Baptist, with its tall spire, stands in its graveyard at the highpoint of the town. Its earliest parts date from around 1340, but these were remodelled in the 1400s and 1500s. Further work was added in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the rebuilding of the spire which was blown down in 1814. The exterior of the church is lavishly decorated and it makes a fine landmark that competes with the nearby windmill.

In the churchyard are two further beautiful old buildings. The single-storey thatched building known as "The Chantry" is timber-framed, plastered and painted dark pink. It was formerly almshouses and dates from the 1600s. Next to it is a row of early eighteenth century almshouses, also timber-framed and plastered, but with tiled roofs and this time painted cream. These were restored in the nineteenth century when the decorative bargeboards as well as the pointed window and the rectangular window, each with the hoodmoulds, were added. When I stood and looked at this interesting pair of buildings a couple of weeks ago, the fog that had been a nuisance all morning helpfully lifted sufficiently for me see the distant windmill between them, and I quickly took this shot. It's a pity that the more elaborate fronts of neither building can be seen. But, if I had included either, then the windmill wouldn't have been so conveniently placed!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 7.9mm (37mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.5
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On