Earlier this year, my husband and I travelled to England to pay tribute to one of our greatest literary loves: Shakespeare. This year is the 400th anniversary of his death and he died where he was born : Stratford -Upon-Avon, a delightful village nestled in the gorgeous iconic English region of the Cotswolds.
We had the chance to explore this northern Cotswolds area and visit some beautiful churches, villages and scenic spots.
The most interesting was St.Michael’s and All Angels Church, which still possesses its superb two original Norman doorways. This unassuming little church stands nearby the small villiage of Guiting Power, and was owned by the Knights Templar during the 12th century.
Guiting Power, and its neighbouring village Temple Guiting, were built and developed by the Knights Templar who owned the magnificent manor which still exists in this area. They were responsible for building a mill on the Windrush river that flows through the villages and thereby helping to build a flourishing the wool trade.
The detail on the south doorway of St.Michael’s church is beautiful. Carved in native limestone which has a distinctive rose-colour, the symbols seem to me very enigmatic. These lovely geometric patterns, chevrons mosaic like motifs were influenced by Islamic and Mediterranean art and hint at a sensibility and knowledge outside of the mainstream religious paradigms at that time.
Above: Hourglass with billet and star carvings – this tympanum over the doorway is a more recent addition.
The more simple yet no less fascinating north doorway, again with its distinctive chevron pattern which is characteristic of Norman architecture, a term traditionally used for English Romanesque architecture.
~ Ancient Rome’s invention of the arch is the basis of all Norman architecture, hence the term Romanesque.
This enigmatic Romanesque Norman style has the largest number of surviving examples in England – seen in a number of surviving churches reflecting a distinctive variation incorporating Byzantine and Saracen influences which developed from the Norman dynasties in Sicily. One such example is Temple Church in London, British headquarters of the Knights Templar.
What fascinates me about this architectural detail is that it seems so out of context in the rural English countryside. Clearly, it is a style that is set apart, and it does not surprise me that all of the Knights Templar Churches that remain in England have this style – further enhancing their mystery….
You can read more and see more about this lovely village here.
You can read more about the Knights Templar here:
You can read more about Romanesque Norman architecture in Britain here:
Thanks for visiting !