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West Haddon

Dedication : All Saints          Simon Jenkins:  Excluded                                Principal Features : Norman Font

To be truthful, I would have to say that West Haddon is not a church I would make much of a diversion for. It is very much what I call a One Treasure Church. In this case that treasure is a fascinating Norman font.

Even the Church Guide is very sketchy about the main structure of the church. Pevsner reckons the arcades to be early c13. I reckon the chancel arch is from the same period. The tower is c14 of the Decorated period. The rather ugly, but lofty, clerestory is clearly late perpendicular. The chancel also looks to be c14. It is a pleasant enough church and the clerestory succeeded in making it light and airy.

There is nothing here, however, to even hint at a Norman church - except for the font. Pevsner quotes a date for it of around 1120.It is square and sits in a modern plinth. Each side has a biblical scene as follows:

North Face: The nativity. The hand of God points to Mary as she lies - rather uncomfortably it seems! - in her birthing bed.

South Face: The baptism of Christ. What is remarkable about this is that Jesus is being baptiised in a font, not as the Bible tells us in the River Jordan! He has a halo and is nude. Very sensible of him, of course, but not the norm on church fonts!

West Face: Palm Sunday and Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

East Face: Christ in Glory with an angle on his right and the eagle of St John to his left

The view to the east end. The screen in modern.

The chancel. Despite the small east window this is still an airy space.

The baptism scene. There is an angel to the right. On the left a man - John the Baptist? - holds a book and points towards it. Christ is in a font!

The Nativity scene. Mary’s head is at the left, lying on a “bed”. At the foot of the bed (right) is a Magus praying. Asses heads can be seen to the left of the King. Above Mary’s torso is the Hand of God pointing towards her face. Oddly, I can’t see the baby Jesus in this scene!

The Palm Sunday scene. Christ on the left is astride his donkey. To the right a man strews rather dubious-looking palms in his path.

Christ in Majesty. On the left is an angel; on the right is the eagle figure of St John.

As can be seen in this picture, each of the four corners has a grotesque

The South East corner, Note the marge eyes and ears and what might be foliage emitting from the mouth.

The North East corner. There has been some damage here. Again, it could be either a leaf or a tongue emitting from the mouth.

The South West corner.

This picture shows the rim of the bowl. Being square, the font has spaces between its corners and the circular lead bowl. At West Haddon this has been filled with a foliage decoration.