Church cleaning

It’s going to be an exciting day in the calendar of St Oswald’s Church, Winwick, next Sunday when the church officially re-opens after being closed (on and off) for seven years whilst the ceilings were being repaired.  It’s been a very big and expensive job; the church was surrounded by metal shuttering and scaffolding for months on end whilst the specialist teams worked on the roof, and everyone is glad that it’s finally finished.

You can see here what the main ceiling looked like before the work started.  It wasn’t in good condition at all.  Deathwatch beetle had got into the wood and in some places, it was pretty much held up by fresh air and angels …


This is what it looks like now, safely restored so that nothing is likely to drop on any unsuspecting parishioner’s head.  It’s a bit like a re-wire in your house – lots of money spent and all of the work is behind the scenes so outwardly, it doesn’t look very different.  However, the work that’s been done should mean that the ceiling won’t need such extensive work doing again in the future.  You can read more about the restoration work here.

There’s going to be a re-opening service next Sunday (2 July) at 3pm to which everyone is welcome, but first the dust and grime of the restoration work has needed to be removed.  The church needs to be wearing it’s very best clothes for the service!  And as happens in all communities around the world, whether church-related or not, volunteers step forward to make sure that the work gets done.  Yesterday, the Perry family joined the small army of people armed with mops, buckets and dusters to help to make the church look as good as it can do for the service next week.

We were allocated the Legh (pronounced “Lee”) Chapel, named for the Legh family who originally came from Lyme Park and were landowners in the area.  It’s one of the older parts of the church and now houses the organ and some rather splendid memorials.

Big daughter and my husband set to work cleaning the wrought ironwork that separates the chapel from the rest of the church.

Did you know that WD-40 protects wrought iron from rust and also gives it a lovely shine?  It also gives your hands an interesting aroma for the rest of the day! 🙂

Small daughter set to work with a feather duster before becoming a very enthusiastic floor-mopper.  I think I might put her in charge of all the floor mopping at home after this!

This chapel contains memorials all dedicated to members of the Legh family.  This one is rather sad; it appears that the woman in the middle is being directed to heaven and leaving her husband holding the baby …

or perhaps he’s just in the dog-house after forgetting to buy more nappies at the supermarket, or the baby’s been up crying all night and he’s really really tired …

either way, it’s one of my favourite sort of sculptures where the people look as if they’re wearing clothes.  How on earth does a lump of stone become robes which are obviously clothing bodies? It’s amazing!

Poor man, I hope he didn’t have too bad a life afterwards.

This memorial is from an even earlier time …

I don’t know how well you can see the inscription but it says:

“Here under this stone lyeth (lies)

bvryed (buried) the body of Sr (Sir) Peter Legh

Knight who departed this lyfe (life)

Febrvary (February) the 17th Ano Dom (AD) 1635

at the age of 73″

(thank you to Shelagh, anonymous and knitaddict for translating!)

1635!  That’s not the oldest memorial in the church either!  Isn’t it wonderful to have this history on your doorstep?  I’ve never seen this stone before, in fact I’ve never been in this chapel before. The good thing about the church being open again will be that there will be days when the church is open and a service isn’t on, so that visitors can have a good look around at what is here.

Like the original font …

and more very old memorials (this one’s a proper knight in his armour, too!) …

and the big solid doors …

I love these old door fastenings.

June, the Rector here at St Oswalds, showed us the church door key.  It’s really big, a good six inches (15cm) or so long …

Well admit it, you’d have been disappointed it if had been a common or garden house key, wouldn’t you? 🙂

She also showed us how the organ worked.  I’ve never seen it up close like this before, never mind had the chance to press the keys!  I have no idea how you would begin to play on three keyboards; they each have a different tone but I know that combined they give that wonderful sound that fills every space in the church.

The cleaning brigade all trooped off to the church hall at this point for a communal lunch so I forgot to take photos of the organ pipes to show you, but I’ll do that another day.  They’re lovely, soaring high up towards the roof so that even the angels on the ceiling can hear the music clearly …

By the time we left, the church was smelling of polish and the sunlight was lighting up the stained glass windows.  I never used to be that fond of visiting churches when I was younger; they always felt cold and rather unwelcoming, but my view on them has changed over the years.

Now, I am much more aware of the warmth that’s contained inside; not necessarily from the bricks but from the community that is involved with them.  Churches are places of happiness and sadness and we need both of those to make our lives balanced.  They have seen generations of people come and go and still stand firmly rooted, never minding whether we choose to go inside or not.

I’m very much looking forward to our village church being open again.  It feels like a part of the village has come home after a long time away, and I am sure that I am not the only to feel that.

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16 Responses

  1. Shelagh says:

    What a wonderful church 🙂 I looked up aetatis suae – it means 'in the year of his age', so the old fella was 73 – a pretty good age for the 17th century!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      He must have been living a good life, I think! Thank you for looking that up – I didn't think to do that! 🙂 xx

  2. Anonymous says:

    I really enjoy our blog and would love to visit St. Oswald's someday. I think "aetatis suae" means essentially, "aged X" or "in his X year"–so in this case, "aged 73". A ripe old age for a knight in 1653!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Thank you – and I'm sure you'd love our church! The website gives the dates that the church will be open outside of the services if you're ever close enough to visit. And thank you for translating – he has certainly lived a good long life! xx

  3. knitaddict says:

    The bottom of the inscription is Latin and says "at the age of 73" which is a very good age in the 1600's!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh brilliant, thank you! I'll update the post now – and yes, 73 was an extremely good age for the 1600s! 🙂 xx

  4. Lenore says:

    Beautiful church, thank you for sharing the photos.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It really is, and it was great to get chance to go right up to different artefacts and have a good look at them. It's not really what you do in the middle of a church service! 🙂 xx

  5. Anonymous says:

    What a lovely church! I love the peace you feel whenever you visit a church. Irune

  6. Onceuponathimble says:

    Wonderful church and I am sure the builders must have found something interesting in the roof – a memento from the original build or another restoration.

  7. Angela says:

    How beautiful. I can tell it is a place of peace and tranquility and clearly very important to your community x

  8. Unknown says:

    It warms my heart to see such an old building restored to her beauty. I'm glad this church was given it's due respect and love. I've never seen a font that old! Thank you for sharing in your blog, the details and pictures.

  9. Jeanette says:

    I am in the US but have visited Norway and Québec Province in Canada and seen ancient cathedrals there (a Norwegian one dating to the 13th century!). As this nation is relatively young by world standards, I am always amazed when I see such old structures as St. Oswald's in Winwick. Just think of what those sacred walls have witnessed! As an engineer, I find the construction of the massive stone cathedrals and such mind-boggling. The designers, builders, craftsmen, and artisans accomplished wonderful feats, especially considering they had no modern instruments or equipment to aid them. I think ancient man was quite clever. Thank you for sharing thhis, Christine.

  10. Unknown says:

    This was interesting to me as i went to sunday school many years ago at st oswalds here in new zealand. I always enjoy your blog. Carolyn nz.

  11. FeMystic says:

    What a work of love, and 7 years in the making! I pray blessings for the church and her people. It's a beautiful thing to see a church building and her congregation survive for centuries. Blessings!

  12. Anonymous says:

    My father was Curate at St Oswalds many years ago and my younger sister baptised there. Although I’ve been passed many times, I’ve don’t believe I’ve been back inside since the days of John Lawton. It’s fascinating to see it again and feel it’s warmth through the screen!

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