I come from a family of 'churchoholics'. Dad jokingly calls our days out "ABC Tours" - short for "Another B*****y Church!". Fortunately Mark has become infected with the same bug and happily tags along when my family are charging from the car park to the nearest church tower or steeple!
We found an absolute gem in the south Cotswold town of Malmesbury on Friday.
It's another Abbey Church which was taken over by the parish in the 1530s.
The grand west end of the building has largely disappeared - only the south-west tower remains.
Up close there's a hint of the fabulous carvings that must have surrounded the west door.
Incredibly, the south porch is completely intact and absolutely beautiful.
This is the outer part, which I believe tells the story of Christ's life..
Here are the carvings round the inner doorway...
With further carvings on the left...
According to the guide book all these statues would have been painted (just like the porch in Lausanne that I posted about in April) Even without its paint this is considered to be one of the best carved porches in Europe.
Here's the inside of the church - dating from 1180.....
There's no East Window because the current building is only a fragment of the original abbey.
The entire section from the steeple forward was made unsafe after the steeple was hit by lightening in 1497. It's still a wonderfully imposing space...
Our eyes were drawn to this unusual little stone gallery...
Nobody is quite sure exactly what it was used for but there's a theory that it could have been used to 'keep an eye' on the huge number of pilgrims that used to visit.
A sort of Medieval CCTV!!!
This is the outside wall where the steeple once stood.
And here's a little of the ruined south transept..
The little market town that's grown up around the Abbey is also very pretty.
We walked down the hill, admiring the pretty stone cottages and tracing the path of the old town wall. It's a great place to stop off and enjoy 'coffee and culture' for a couple of hours!