St Michael’s Church

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This is a tiny church built on a terrace overlooking the River Dunt in the Cotswolds. Off the road and screened by trees, it is a lovely setting.

The nave is C11th Saxon and there is a lot of herringbone masonry in the walls. The South door has a typical Saxon triangular top. The chancel was added in the C12th above a crypt. A tiny tower was added in the C15th with the saddleback top being C16th. The porch was added in the C18th and has a sundial above the door. There is a tiny stone cross at the ends of the roof, nave and chancel.

Entry to the crypt is through a door on the south wall. Steep steps lead down into a small barrel vault with the only light coming from a tiny Norman window at the east end set under a plain round arch. There is the remains of a painted figure on either side of the window. There is a small piscina and aumbry cupboard. The original, now blocked stairs leading into the church can be seen at the back of the crypt.

Inside, it is an attractive church with white washed walls and wood beam ceiling. The panelling round the base of the walls of the nave was found in a timber yard and was fitted in the church in the 1930s. The C13th font is at the back of the church and a small door leads into the tower. The pews are C18th and the beautifully carved pulpit is Jacobean.

The only memorial in the church is in the nave, to Nathanial Haines d1784 and his wife Ann d1874 and their three daughters, Susana, Mary and Jane.

A simple round Norman arch leads into the chancel. This has small Norman windows which makes it feel dark compared with the rest of the church. The stained glass is modern with the Crucifixion in the east window with the Virgin Mary and St John. The south window is St Michael. The old choir stalls on the south wall have misericords. The priest’s chair is on the north wall.

The north wall of the chancel is covered with 13thC wall paintings. The blocks outlined in red contain small deep purple flowers. Beneath is a border with scrolls and below that are arches with small figures painted in the corners.

This is a lovely little church with a timeless air to it. It is open daylight hours. It is set back off the road, down a grassed track between hedges. It is easy to miss. It is just south of Middle Duntiscombe and there is a tiny wooden sign on the road “To the Church”, by the first house on the left. There is a small parking area on the side of the road by the gate.

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