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Font is a fitting place for our journey to start partly because baptism is
the beginning of the journey into full church membership, but also because
the pedestal of the font is the oldest thing in the church. It is older
than the church itself.
main part of the church is fourteenth century but the base of the font
goes back at least 100 years before that. It is, perhaps, the last relic
of the earlier (probably wooden) church that stood on this site when a
church was first established here in 1147.
bowl of the font, though not so old as the base, also has its stories to
tell. The first story is contained in its shape. If you lift the lid and
look in (yes, it's quite all right to do so) you will see that it is quite
deep. A modern font is normally shallow and saucer shaped. The greater
depth of this font tells us that it goes back to a time when Christenings
were a good deal more traumatic than they are nowadays. In days gone by
the child was brought to the church naked. Met at the church door by the
priest it would have had salt put into its mouth to drive out demons.
Carried into the church it would then have been immersed three times in
the waters of the font, before being given, by the church, its white
Christening gown to symbolise the fact that it had been washed clean from
sin and was starting life off anew as a member of God's family.
second story is contained in the broken hinge that you will find on the
southwest face of the font. Many old fonts have identical damage and it
goes back to the time of the Civil War. The puritans, averse to the idea
of Holy Water as a popish superstition, smashed their way into the fonts
all over England to remove the offending liquid.
To see the third story, you need to look up. No, the pulley in the roof is not for use in baptising adults or exceptionally heavy babies. It goes back to the time when the font had a much more elaborate steeple-shaped lid. Too heavy to handle, it was raised and lowered by the pulley.
Inside the Font