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Christianity frontpageAll Saints, Burton Dassett, Warwickshire

Some of this church's gravestones appear in the Gothic Galleries. But it needs a full page to itself, really.

We visited Burton Dassett, once an important place but now a hamlet in the middle of nowhere very much, to look at the
Holy Well there. The church obviously deserved a visit, as it seemed unusually grand and large. But these obvious facts were no preparation for what lay inside.

Burton Dassett Church looking eastBurton Dassett Church looking west
It is icy cold within All Saints (all right, there was snow falling outside, but it didn't seem any warmer in), but that seemed no more than appropriate to the bare magnificence of this grand building. The stripped plaster and comfortless interior convey an impression of colossal age far more strongly than other, perhaps older but better-furnished churches. And then there's the incline. The church is built on a hillside, but rather than cut straight into the earth, or build the church out on a level and have a crypt beneath, the builders chose to have the nave gently rising as you approach the east end. From the sunken floor of the tower at the west to the sanctuary at the east the difference must be twelve-to-fifteen feet. That altar feels a long, long way away from anything else, and, big though the church is, strangely the inside feels even bigger.
Burton Dassett Church side chapelBurton Dassett church - Our Lady of Walsingham
The roofs of the side chapels soar upwards, leaving old bench pews, Our Lady of Walsingham seated on her plinth, and scribbled prayers scattered over an old tomb-chest, all frozen in the spare, stripped air. Part of the ruinous atmosphere is explained by the fact that the church is, indeed, in need of repair and has been since the late 1800s when the rotten wooden floor and pews were removed and the different floor levels discovered. Then in 1934 it was found that some of the walls were not solid stone, but cob faced with stone - not the most durable material.
Burton Dassett church - wall paintings
The church is well-known for its wall-paintings, both the medieval ones of the Magi and post-Reformation texts such as the one above. There is talk of 'restoring' those that survive, but hopefully whatever happens will not restore away the unique ambience of this stunning church.
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