Brightwell Baldwin



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The chancel of St Bartholomew was restored in the 1860s when the east window (the one in the photo above) with reticulated tracery was put in, in place of the old Decorated one, and the floor was raised as is shown by the piscina and aumbry to the right of the altar, now at floor level. The old 14th century glass in the east window was not replaced, but fragments of it, found in the rectory attic, were placed in the windows of the south aisle when these were restored. The chancel screen was renewed in 1903.

On the left is a close-up of the reticulated tracery in the east window. This is the six bottom panes as seen in the photo above.

It can be seen that St Bartholomew's chancel was built at a slight angle to that of the nave. This is a symbolic representation of Christ upon the Cross, His head declined towards his right shoulder, and in that attitude He chose to die. The chancel arch is similar to the nave arches. The blocked arch in the north wall formerly led into the chapel.

Over the chancel arch are the Hanoverian Royal Arms. The inescutcheon, which is without crown or bonnet on the top, is divided into three - the first England, the second Scotland and the third Ireland and England. The small central shield which should have the crown of Charlemagne is blank. The date, 1895, commemorates the year in which the nave was restored.

The glass in the south window has been considerably renovated but some dates back to the 14th century. At the top in the two centre lights are portrayed two Archbishop Saints. On the right, at the top, are the Bereford family arms in a 14th century shield cut down to fit into the 15th century tracery. The two central figures in the window are 15th century, on the left the Archangel Gabriel, on the right the Virgin Annunciate.

There are several shields and arms to be seen, including the restored Bereford shield, surrounded by a ribbon with the inscription Insignia Edmundi de Bereford militis domini istius manerii. Edmund's father was Sir William de Bereford, a famous judge who held the manor of Brightwell in 1300.

Above the Bereford shield is a shield with the arms of the See of Durham, impaling the arms of Howson. Above it is a scroll with the words Duresme and Howson. To the right of the Durham Shield are the arms of the See of Oxford, also impaling Howson. John Howson, who was rector of Brightwell Baldwin, 1608-28, became Bishop of Oxford in 1619, and in 1628 Bishop of Durham.

To the right of the Bereford arms is a restored shield, surrounded by a ribbon inscribed Insignia Johis Kirby Arm. Patronis istius ecclia. This inscription is an error made when the shield was restored. The arms are those of the Parke family who were partrons of the church in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. The tomb of John and Isabel Parke was recorded in the chapel in 1658, but has since disappeared. The stone bearing the three stags' heads on the left of the vestry door may well have come from this tomb.

Above the Parke shield is that of the See of Oxford, impaling Corbet. This, like Howson's shields, is much restored. Richard Corbet was rector 1628-32, and was at the same time Bishop of Oxford. In 1632 he became Bishop of Norwich.

On the north wall is a large memorial to William Paule, rector 1632-65, who was also Bishop of Oxford. He is buried near the altar and other members of his family are also buried in the chancel, which is the resting place for other rectors and their families.

The Decorated Nave of St Bartholomew has four bay arcades on octagonal piers and arches with small stone heads above each column. The pulpit and tester are Jacobean. The octagonal font is probably 14th century, the cover 17th century. At the east end of the south aisle in a trefoil-headed recess is a piscina with aumbry.

On the north wall of St Bartholomew's nave is a brass memorial to John the Smith, which was removed from the floor near the font for its protection. John died in 1371 and the inscription is possibly the earliest written in English.

Man com & se how schal alle ded li; wen yolk comes bad and bare noth have ven ve away fare; All ye wermes y ve for care; bot y ve do for god ys luf ve haue nothyng yare; hundyr yis graue lys John ye Smyth god yif his soule hewn grit.

The translation in modern English is as follows.

Man, come and see how all dead shall lie; when folk comes bad and bare, nought have when we away fare; All is worms that ye for care, but what ye do for God his love, ye have nothing ready; under this grave lies John the Smith, God give his soul heavenly peace.

John the Smith has been researched by John Blair, Fellow of Brasenose College. He found that John the Smith had several holdings of land in the neighbourhood, and was probably a typical late 14th century figure who was building up a tenement for himself out of smaller holdings left vacant after the Black Death. This would account for John the Smith being able to afford a brass, and his nearness to pure peasant stock would explain the unusually earl use of the vernacular.

On the floor of St Bartholomew's north aisle are memorials to servants from Brightwell Park, but the inscriptions are very worn. At the west end of this aisle stands a barrel organ which was made by Walker in 1843 and restored in 1963. It has three barrels, each of which plays ten hymns or chants. The main organ, which came from another church, was presented by the rector, Sidney Reader, in memory of his wife in 1938.

St Bartholomew's Parish Chest was restored in 1985 with the help of a grant from the Pilgrim Trust. The conservation work was carried out by J. C. Dawes of Norwich, and the cleaning of the painting by Anna Hulbert of Childrey. The details of St George's armour and the horse's furniture suggest that the painting was carried out during the second half of the 14th century, which was the period during which the church was built.

The church possesses some fine brasses, and concealed by a carpet is a brass with a double canopy beneath which are the effigies of Chief Justice John Cottesmore, his wife Amice, and their 18 children. The brass has been relaid more than once and the position of the Judge and his wife have changed. Sir John, whose father acquired part of the Manor of Brightwell early in the 15th century, died in 1439. The brass is of particular interest to those who study medieval dress. There is no inscription, but on the north wall there is a second brass carrying a Latin verse inscription, decorated by leaves and quatrefoils. Above this are kneeling effigies of the justice and his wife praying to the Holy Trinity. Parts of this second brass have been missing for many years, and it is suggested that they were removed in Cromwell's time.

On the south wall, recently found and restored, is a brass to Robert More and his mother, Alicia. The inscription reads thus:

Orate pro anima Magister Roberti More quondam/Rectoris istius ecclesiae ac pro anima Alicia More matris ejus.

Robert More became rector in 1477 and died in 1497.

In the vestry window is an inserted panel of 15th century glass depicting Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and Saint John. On the south wall is a third piscina and aumbry.

The church plate includes a chalice, paten and flagon of plated metal, each inscribed Baldwin Brightwell, Oxfordshire, The Revd Saml White, A. M. Rector. Henry Saunders and Richd Spyre, Church Wardens, July 15, 1803. Another set of chalice, paten and flagon, is inscribed under the paten with presented by David McKee during the rectorship of the Rev. Hainsworth, rector 1914-31. This is also a chalice and paten presented by the Rev. H. B. Horne, M.A., on the jubilee of his ordination, September 20th 1953. Furthermore there is a brass almsdish, cross and two candlesticks.

Parish church

Parish church

Parish church

Parish church

Parish church