Monday, December 16, 2019

St Nicholas Studland

I really enjoy visiting churches and try to see the local church wherever I go. Recently I was up in Bournemouth to visit my mother and had read about the church in Studland which is only a 35 minute bus trip for where she lives. The bus trip alone is very good as you get to go across the the mouth of Poole harbour on a car ferry. Upstairs on the bus you get great views of Brownsea Island and Studland Bay, Old Harry Rocks and even the Isle of Wight. Across onto land again the bus travels through the marshy winter landscape of Studland Bay and weaves round past some enormous expensive looking hotels and houses to the village of Studland. Not a place I've ever explored before.

Because it had rained all day and I had been busy doing other things in the morning I only had about three hours of daylight to look around the area and chose first, perhaps unwisely, to look for the Agglestone Rock, which I did find and get to after much squelching of water and mud. Frankly if you live in Devon the rock is not that impressive but I wanted to have a look anyway and it does seem quite incongruous on it's sandy hill, with views of Poole and Sandbanks and the IOW.

After making a hasty walk back to Studland village I only had about 35 minutes to find the church and get back on the bus before it got dark. Luckily the church is very close to the centre of the village and I must say it really made up for the slight disappointment of the Agglestone Rock.

The church was built in about 1080 on the site of an earlier Saxon church and my goodness it does feel ancient inside and is absolutely beautiful. Entrance is through a double doored porch which makes the experience quite dark, as usually the church porches just have an interior door. Once inside the age of the stonework becomes apparent and though like nearly all churches the old medieval stained glass is long gone, it was surprisingly dark inside. I couldn't really get many good photos of the interior but did my best with the one lens that I had with me.

I was lucky to have the place to myself so had some time alone to feel the atmosphere. The scale of the church is interesting - it's not really miniature but it is small and I was aware that the scale of the building was something quite rare. On a dark day in Winter in the late afternoon this church felt like I had traveled back in time and did feel very ancient.

Outside there are the curious corbel table carvings. The corbel table is the part the roof seems to sit upon and there are some delightfully rude carvings, quite pagan on a Christian church as they first appear. I think there were two sheelagh na gigs and two male counterparts exposing themselves and what appears to be a rather amorous couple, amongst other faces and animals and abstract shapes, some unfortunately defaced over the years. The church is worth a look for these alone but the siting is beautiful and the stone and atmosphere lovely. A rather special church I thought. I'll put a link below to another website that has some good information and photos.

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