Thursday, 13 April 2017

St. Mary's Churchyard in Ecclesfield

Entering St. Mary's churchyard by the lychgate

As with most of the ancient villages that I had previously visited, during my exploration of the mediaeval churches in and around South Yorkshire, Ecclesfield has grown up around St. Mary's church, with later development alongside the brook that flows down from the high ground near the village of Grenoside.

Views of the churchyard from the porch of St. Mary's church

St. Mary's church itself occupies high ground above the brook and the northern part of its churchyard is effectively an extension to the gardens of Ecclesfield Priory and its adjoining manor house; however, it is a wide open space to the south, west and east and, although it is full of graves, part of it has the character of a village green.

The Jeffcock Memorial Fountain

Walking down Town End Road, having explored an old quarry and taken a good look at the buildings along the way, the Jeffcock Memorial Fountain caught my eye – not least because it is made from various polished granites, which contrast strongly with the drab Lower Coal Measures sandstones that have been used in the rest of the village. 

A detail of the Jeffcock Memorial Fountain

Looking closely at this Edwardian memorial, it is built of two types of granites that were very fashionable at the time. The bulk of the structure is a green/grey variety of larvikite or a similar labradorite rich rock, which has both hammered and polished finishes – the latter showing the schiller effect in the feldspar crystals – but polished Ross of Mull granite is used for the elongated panels on the chamfered corners.

The Thomas William Jeffcock horse trough

Nearby, a horse trough dedicated as a memorial to Thomas William Jeffcock provides another example of granite, this time a white variety with clots of biotite mica or hornblende, but on this occasion I didn't examine its texture or mineralogy closely. Although Cornish and Devon granites, emplaced during the Hercynian orogeny at the end of the Carboniferous period were extensively used by Victorian and Edwardian architects, other white granites formed during the geologically older Caledonian orogeny were also widely imported from Ireland.

Carboniferous sandstone posts in the village stocks

The old village stocks are notable for the use of local Carboniferous sandstone for its posts and walking towards to the church, Ecclesfield War Memorial provides a good example of the use of Portland limestone from Dorset. Unveiled in 1921, this unusual monument with a four-sided wheel-head cross was designed by R B Brook-Greaves, who is also known for the isometric projection that shows the construction details of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Ecclesfield War Memorial

Except for taking a quick look at the pet cemetery and details of a grave slab, I didn't look at any of the gravestones, but the Rev. Dr. John Scott, chaplain to Admiral Horatio Nelson at the time of his death at the Battle of Trafalgar is buried here.

A coat of arms adorning a gravestone

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