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All Saints Church Elm Cambridgeshire
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The church that would make you believe you not in the heart of the bleak Fens. All saints Elm is just one mile from Wisbech and is a far cry from what is one of the most desolate worlds I have ever seen.
The war memorial stands just outside the churchyard, across the road and is well looked after and stands proud to the fallen after all those years.
I used to live in Elm from 2004-2008 and drove past this church often but wasn't too interested in architecture back then, but would notice the beauty of its grounds. often thinking why can't the Fens have trees like that.
England's New Arboretums
If you think about it, the countryside may have been looking like this many years ago. So the churchyard is almost a view of a world that once was, and even down to the wildflowers that grow in the grounds. You don't see the flowers growing elsewhere in the ordinary fenland countryside. You can almost call churchyards a fake world or a zoo, or would you call the world that's just past the gate a fake world.
So, when you think about it, churchyards could be renamed as An Arboretum, Arboretum meaning; is an area devoted to specimen plantings of trees and shrubs. Distinct from a forest, nursery or park, it is in a sense an outdoor museum of trees. It is a place where many varieties of trees are grown for research, educational, and ornamental purposes; where trees and shrubs are cultivated for the exhibition. I see trees and plants that I don't see anymore unless I'm in a churchyard!!!.
This beautiful church dates from the early 13th and late 13th century with a 15th-century hammer-beam roof, with a few light restorations in the 19th-century.
The west tower is an early 13th century of barnack ashlar stone. With an embattled and of four stages on a splayed plinth. At each corner of the bell tower stage is an octagonal turret with embattlments. Both the north and south walls contain blind arcades.
There's a fine west doorway which has a round-headed arch of three hollow and roll-moulded orders on three
recessed shafts. Above the doorway, you will find a three chamfered lancets above a band of nail-head ornament. Both the north and south walls have arcading of three bays and two half bays each.
Most of the windows are late 13th century with ten clerestory windows each side of the upper nave; windows are two-centred arches with two chamfered orders, roll-moulded label and mask stops. Other aisle windows have two-centred arches of two cinquefoil lights with foiled heads. A fine east window restored, of five trefoil lights with a foiled head. The north porch and the only porch I found was very rustic looking which is rather modern, dating from the 19th centur
When entering this church, there's an instant feeling of space, with the large arches west tower and what gives it more room, the tower is open, it has no certains, doorways unlike may churches where their towers are used for offices, toilets or just as storerooms. There is an office or meeting room to one side of the south aisle, but this seems to be not too overwhelming which is nice to see.
The large nave has six bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders with continuous moulded labels, fixed to alternating round and octagonal columns with round and octagonal capitals.
The roof was raised in the 15th century and is a double hammer beam and in ten bays. The jackpot is carbed on bullnose corbels. There are roof angels with wings on the ends of the hammer beams, and if you look closely you see error holes, the story goes, Cromwell's men tied to damaged the angels.
The font is rather elegant, maybe 14th century or later, with massive moulded pillars, not sure about the details as I just can't find any, but you get a general idea.
The church no matter where you look has so much to offer, its grounds are extensive yet looks small from the roadside; You enter into a world that once was, even along the brick wall it is full of history and life, yet just down the road life ceases to exists.
The church is locked, which is a sensible thing around this part of the country if given these chance some would steal the tower if it could fit in their rusty looking transit vans. The key can be found at the local shop which is just down to the, Londis store, 3 Birch Grove, Elm, Wisbech PE14 0AP, and You just sign your name.
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