Sunday, 13 June 2010
In search of Morebath
During the first twenty years of his ministry Trychay put a good deal of effort into re-enlivening the devotional life of this remote parish. He fostered the development a cult to the Exeter saint St Sidwell, which was focused on an image of her that he placed on the side altar in the north aisle. Together he and the parishioners worked towards a thorough restoration and requipping of the church building. Work included a new rood screen, a new rood and the renovation of all the images. Duffy tells us that all was done with love and great devotion. One of the most compelling and heartbreaking details of the account concerns a set of new black vestments. For twenty years Trychay had saved up for a new set of black vestments for use at requiems, putting his own money into the fund and in July 1547 he finally raised enough money to get them. However, Henry VIII had died earlier in 1547 and his death signalled the first phase of the Protestant Reformation and all the vestments and ornaments so lovingly bought, including the new black vestments, were soon to be swept away for ever.
I was very pleased to be able to visit Morebath last week and below are one or two photos of the church. Sadly much of the church was rebuilt by William Butterfield in the 1870s and the only part that Trychay would recognise is the fifteenth century north aisle with its barrel roof. It was at the east end of this aisle at the altar of Jesus that Trychay placed the new cultic image of St Sidwell and it was here that he said his daily mass, while he could. Of course all sign of that altar has been swept away.