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All Saints, Great Braxted



Click on the 'play' symbol in the second image to see all my photographs of this church as a slide show, then click on any image in the slideshow to see it large in a new page.

Alternatively, if you don't have flash enabled, you can go straight to the set for this church on flickr.

"Forgive me, aren't we talking rather loud?
I think I see a woman praying over there."

" Praying? The service is all over now
And here's the verger waiting to turn out
The lights and lock the church up. She cannot
Be Loyal Church of England. "

- John Betjeman, from Bristol and Clifton

Braxted Hall is a vast 18th Century estate whose village is Great Braxted, smaller than its Little namesake and a good three miles from it.Climbing up the hill I came to a pair of gates, recently unlocked but with a lock and chain at the ready, and a driveway which led after about a quarter of a mile to the church. I followed a car up the drive, assuming they had just unlocked the gates for the day, and I had arrived at a good time. But by the time I got to the end of the long drive, they had locked themselves into the church and were playing the organ!

This is a fine looking church, a massive restoration of the 1890s under Ernest Geldart, obviously designed as a view from the Hall. It probably doesn't function as much more than that today, set as it is in its humped churchyard, a fenced enclave in the Park above the ornamental lake with the woods beyond. I dare say it is a nice place to have a wedding. The driver had left their car parked beside the tower, ruining my view, Geldart's tower being its best feature, which obviously made me even grumpier. I rattled the door loudly, but they didn't hear me, or chose to ignore me.

I had been told that this church is always kept locked against pilgrims and strangers. Following the car up the drive, I had decided not to believe this, but it appeared to be true. I made a decision then and there to protest about every grant application that this church puts in from now on. They shouldn't receive any public money at all for what is basically a posh venue for their Sunday club, and a cash cow for weddings. Let it fall!

I waited in the porch in case they should emerge, but time was ticking on, and when they embarked upon a 30th hesitant stroll through Sheep May Safely Graze I decided that enough was enough. The best thing about this church was probably its exterior, so I left a rude note under the car windscreen wipers (I didn't really) and carried on northwards.

Simon Knott, April 2013



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