click photo to enlarge
In my visits to churches I frequently come across woodwork that dates from the medieval period. Most often this is roof timbers or parts of the seating in the chancel or nave, usually the misericords or the bench ends. Also reasonably common are medieval wooden screens, pulpits, chests, and other smaller pieces. Then there are the doors. One can understand the survival of wood that spends its life in the shelter of the church, but this isn't always the case with doors. Frequently they are open to the weather if not protected by a porch.
On a recent visit to Gedney church in Lincolnshire I photographed the elaborate medieval south door that is inside a porch. This is a remarkable survivor from the Decorated period of English Gothic i.e. the fourteenth century. The arched structure has solid surrounds and four mullions or buttresses that are decorated with pellets rather in the manner of ballflower. The top of the inserted wicket door has four shields and flowers. Above is a broad band that stretches across the door with a beautifully carved inscription, "Pax Christ sit huic domui et omnibus habitantibus in ea hic requies nostra". My nearly non-existent Latin, augmented by Google translates that as, approximately, "The peace of Christ to all who live here and all who are associated with this house". Some of the metalwork clearly is of the same age, particularly that on the inside.
It may be the contemporaneous porch and the protection it offers that is responsible for the well-preserved state of the door. It has suffered somewhat down the centuries but replaced pieces of wood are few, and even the metal supports added at the bottom of the mullions look very old. Interestingly I often find that woodwork such as this offers a more immediate sense of the past than the much more plentiful stone carving.
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Photo Title: C14 Door, Gedney Church, Lincolnshire
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 17mm (34mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On