Monday, 8 March 2010

St. Nicholas Church - Biddestone

The small picturesque Cotswold village of Biddestone dates from Saxon times and is probably how one would describe the quintessential English village. The village green and duck pond are flanked by quaint cottages and some rather opulent 18th century houses. A couple of traditional English pubs serving fine ales and wholesome fayre complete the picture.

The church of St. Nicholas was built over Saxon foundations but is mainly of Norman construction. A magnificent 300 year old oak door opens into the nave where a 300 year old font dominates the central aisle. The church organ, which is a mere 200 years in comparison, was reputedly last played in 1972.

The rare bell turret was built in c.1480 and was constructed to house the medieval Sanctus bell, which was rung religiously (pardon the pun) three times a day at the point of consecration, so the ploughmen, farmers and shepherds in nearby fields who were unable to attend the service, could cross themselves.

It is said that the graveyard is haunted by the figure of a man dressed in black who was reputedly hanged therein. Just what his crime was, and the date of his execution seemed shrouded in secrecy. Several attempts to extract information from the local diocese have been met with a wall of silence. Am I to believe, if the story be true, that the church is a little embarrassed by this past transgression.

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