Saturday, 28 January 2017

St Helen Benson

The last time I visited St Helen's Benson a few years the church was closed so I had to make do with the churchyard. This time I was pleased to find the church open and was very pleased it was when I went inside. History is take straight from Wikipedia
"The Church of England parish church of Saint Helen is partly ancient. John Marius Wilson described it as "variously late pointed Norman and decorated; has a modern tower; contains a Norman font and two [monumental] brasses; and is very good." The parish includes the hamlets of Fifield and Crowmarsh-Battle or Preston-Crowmarsh. The village is often confused with RAF Benson, which is a well-known RAF station and airfield. The RAF airfield boundary is immediately adjacent to the village, and the aerodrome's construction closed the former "London Road". The RAF buildings are on the opposite side of the airfield to Benson village, adjacent to the village of Ewelme.
The church tower was rebuilt in 1794. It has a single clock face on the east-facing side with hours displayed in Roman numerals. The clock face erroneously has the nine o'clock marker painted as "XI". The eleven o'clock marker is also XI. This mistake gained fame during the Second World War when Germany's English-speaking propaganda broadcaster, William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) promised an air raid on "an airfield near the village whose clock had two elevens". RAF Benson was bombed soon afterwards.
The bell tower has a ring of eight bells. Six including the tenor and treble were cast by Thomas Janaway of Chelsea in 1781. The current second and third bells were added by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry: the second cast by Charles and George Mears in 1852 and the third cast by Mears and Stainbank in 1922. In October 2009 White's of Appleton removed the original oak bell frame of 1794 and replaced it with a modern steel frame White's refurbished the bells and fitted them with new headstocks  for installation in the new steel frame."
I noticed after writing it there was no Pulpit and I think it was removed so no view of a pulpit or view from it this week. You might want a coffee before we start

St Helen has been rendered in one of the renovations though under the skin it hides its age well

The north which when I first saw it I felt they had really done a bad job with the new extension as it was not sympathetic with the church but I cannot fault why it was done as it gives a meeting room and office along with toilets for the church

Looking west from the east end of the church

Above the tower and the clock with two 11's on to the right is the porch leading to the church

This was a very pleasant surprise to see in the church

Above I feel I could have framed the photo better, left is the chancel

Above the altar and chancel window
while on the right is the altar that is used for services now

Looking back out to the nave

Another view to the nave and on the right the Church Organ though nearby is a grand piano

Above the Stevens family Memorials  

The  Newton family is on the left and right memorials here

Memorial to George Henry Witaker a past vicar of the parish

Bequest from Robert Aldworth Newton that the interest from two hundred pound be given to the poor of the parish, now adays that would get you diddly squat

The suns shines in through the windows casting colourful shadows

Just a shame I have not really captured it properly

The stained glass is superb throughout the church

Above looking down the south aisle  where you can see the stained glass window on the left and the church banner

At the back you can see this memorial glass to the fallen from World War Two with the names listed at the bottom

Under the stained glass window the other end are these two plaques

Near the door is this old plaque  to Ralph Quelche and his wife Jane who died in 1619 &1629

Over to the South Aisle where you see the flag of the RAF  

Under the flag is a time line of RAF Benson which is still operational today, the RAF station is only a few hundred Yards away

At the end of the South Aisle is the church font

The ceiling joists are interesting having painted carvings on them

They look Tudor to me

The Cartwheel Chandelier with it's candles really stood out for me

I presume this one above is a demon.
On the right the entrance door and a British Legion Flag

The floor has some old tomb slabs and one with the brass missing

and you can still see some of the original tiles form the church

Last look over to the south aisle

 I felt these huge bequest plaques worth showing large

The list bequests to the poor of the parish going back to 1619 and have only recently been restored

Outside you can walk around many old headstones and tombs

Tombs of differing stiles

The churchyard beside the roadside wall

Around the west end

and a little further north

these are around the east end of the church

along with this tomb and cross

The headstones have taken on differing colours over the years

others have gotten a covering of Ivy

Like this tome

The last time I visited the
north side of the churchyard was being cleared of undergrowth
and this headstone on the left had been uncovered. On the right the only war grave in the churchyard of Gunner A.B.Jones

an impressive old tomb 

Further along the road is another Lychgate leading to the churchyard extension

Roy Wright MBE DFC was a spitfire Pilot during the war flying Photo Reconnaissance  which was a fighter plane with cameras and no armament so it could fly faster.this guy was one hero and survied the war dying in 2012 and is buried amongst his comrades

The war graves you see belong to the Airmen lost in their duty, the ones on the left belong to Polish and Czechoslovak personnel

You can help feelling the lost when you see all these graves in a village churchyard

Further along the churchyard which is still in use can be seen is filling up.

The grave on the left is that of Major Anthony Geoffrey Brian Wainwright who died in 1942
on the right
Group Captain Jones, CVO ADC RAF, died tragically with his wife Imogene on 19th June 1989.

Wing Commander John Coxen was killed in a helicopter crash in Basra along with four other personel

The war graves of the airmen killed in World War Two

Cadet Junior Coporal Nicholas Langley Rice is the youngest person in a war grave he was 15 when he died in 2009 with  Flight Lieutenant Mike Bleewhen the glider they wer flying crashed 

I'll leave you with this shot of the produce for sale on a windowsill in the South Aisle and wish you all a wonderful Weekend