Tuesday, 24 November 2009

All Saints, Lullington

Photograph courtesy of Frank Collins

Lullington's village green has a small scattering of houses, a former school, a farm and a church. So perfect is this little ensemble, it could almost be a film-set.

The church is ancient however: possibly a Saxon foundation, it was in the ownership of the Bishop of Coutances in 1086. The building we see today dates from the 12th century, with a South Aisle added around 1280, the Chancel in 1340, and South Porch around 1450. Extensively but sensitively restored in 1862, it is chiefly known for its Norman work, regarded as among the best in Somerset.

On the exterior, this is most clearly visible on the north side, where the north door has a fine Tympanum with Christ in Majesty, above an arch of two orders, one zig-zag and the other a series of wonderful beak-heads. Beneath, two animals eat from the Tree of Life. The supporting columns have zig-zag and spiral carving with heavily weathered capitals. Above, the corbel table is a delight in its own right, with the subjects including a surprised-looking king and two beasts embracing. The south doorway is also Norman, although of a simpler design.

Inside, there is yet more Norman work in the tower and chancel arches, with carved capitals depicting a green man, a winged lion and a peculiar ox with two bodies apparently joined by a single head. But the best furnishing is its font: dating from the 11th century, it has interlinked arches under a frieze of flowers and an inscription which reads: "Hoc Fontis Sacro Peveunt Delicta Lavacro". Above the inscription is another frieze, this time of 'Green Cats', linked with long bands of foliage spewing from their mouths. Such green cats were probably meant to be lions, but were carved by masons who had never seen the real thing. Whatever their origins, it makes the font a unique and fascinating object.

Well worth a detour.

All Saints, Lullington nr Frome, BA11 2PG

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