St Giles’ Church

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We’ve often admired the elegant crocketed spire of Balderton church as we’ve zoomed past on the A1. As the church was open as part of the Nottingham churches open weekend, we decided it was time for a visit.

It is a big church set in a large churchyard, with a couple of splendid stone box tombs, in the centre of Balderton which is now a suburb of south east Newark. It has a large square battlemented tower at the west end with tall corner pinnacles and is topped by a very tall, slender crocketed spire. (Crocketed is a lovely word meaning the spire has knobbles on the sides.)

There is a long nave with side aisles and a lower chancel. It is worth walking round the outside to admire the small fancy cross at the east end of the south aisle and the small heads carved on the sides of the windows. There is a very plain priest’s door on the north wall of the chancel.

The oldest part of the church is the splendid South Porch which is a superb example of Norman work with carved pillars on either side of the door and dog toothed carved arches above. In a niche above is a very eroded statue of the Virgin Mary with a Celtic style cross above. If you want to see a good example of Norman craftmanship, this is the place to visit.

The lower part of the tower is 13thC, the upper part and spire are 14/15thC. The rest of the church is 13thC Decorated.

It is a large porch with two small windows with images of Christ as the Good Shepherd and a bishop. There is a simple round arch into the church. Stop to admire the massive carved door which is 15thC.

The first thing that catches the eye inside the church are the beautiful wooden pews with their poppyhead carved tops. There isn’t a poppy in sight. The word comes from the French ‘poupée’, meaning puppet or figurehead. There are rabbits, dogs, lions, grotesque animals, all beautifully carved and gleaming from many coats of beeswax over the years. Those along the aisle were obscured with ribbons in preparation for a wedding later. Look carefully and you will see slash marks on the woodwork, remains of damage by Roundhead soldiers in the Civil War.

Also take a moment to admire the collection of kneelers from the old fashioned hassocks to modern ones lovingly embroidered by members of the congregation.

Octagonal pillars with pointed arches separate nave and side aisles. The capitals of the north pillars are carefully carved with foliage. Walls are white washed plaster with a dark wood beam roof. Large windows give a light and airy feel to the church.

Inside the door is a 14thC stone font with small heads carved round the rim. Down the edges are what are described as ‘ballflower’ ornamentation. These are small orbs with three small holes. They look a bit like faces with eye sockets and mouth. Opposite the porch is a Royal Coat of Arms.

There is a small altar at the end of the north aisle. Beside it on the north wall is a large memorial to the dead of World War One with a smaller memorial beneath for World War Two. The organ is at the end of the south aisle which has a small rood screen across it.

Separating nave and chancel is a beautifully carved rood screen picked out with gilt. At the bottom are panels, the top has gloriously carved open fretwork arches. The chancel floor is covered with encaustic tiles. There is a simple cloth covered altar and elaborately carved choir stalls. The east window is 19thC stained glass and has a red robed figure of Christ seated in majesty surrounded by angels. Beside it is an elaborate 19thC memorial with an urn and two figures on top of a sarcophagus.

The window on the north wall of the chancel has the remains of medieval stained glass. The plain glass south window has a tiny inset of the Adoration of the Lamb with the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child and John the Baptist.

This is a delightful church with a warm welcome from the parishioners looking after it.

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