“The joy of Newington is on its walls. They owe their bold colouring to being not fresco but oil on plaster. The most prominent is the murder of Becket. This familiar scene of early medieval piety is singularly horrific, with Becket’s head spouting blood as the sword cleaves it in two.”
“The tombs are among the most eccentric in England. Little is known of the Swinbrook Fettiplaces but they clearly meant their church to remember them. There are two monuments along the north chancel wall, each with three effigies lying on shelves. The six have been compared to merchandise in a shop, passengers travelling steerage on a steamer, or a congregation of the dead, awakened to watch something important on television.”
“Burford is the queen of Oxfordshire, a paragon and museum of the English parish church…In the nave north aisle, a superb classical memorial recalls Edmond Harman, Henry VIII’s barber and courtier. His memorial, completed before his death, carries the first known depiction in England of the Indian inhabitants of the New World, believed to have been copied from a Flemish book.”
“Church Hanborough’s most treasured work is the Norman tympanum over the north door. This portrays St Peter with his key, the lion of St Mark and a Lamb of God, and appears to have escaped Victorian restoration. With its roll-mouldings and zigzag decoration, the carving is simple and childlike. The lion appears to be holding a stone but a hand reaches down from Heaven to restrain it.”
Jenkins says this is “the first of my ‘thousand churches,’ and will always be a favourite.” Unfortunately when I got there, even the churchyard was closed up. It was set in the middle of a field and as I approached a herd of aggressive cows started charging me. I barely made it back out of the gate!