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St Mary's, Redcliff, north porch

St Mary's, Redcliff, north porch

Artist: Grimm, Samuel Hieronymus

Medium: Ink wash on paper

Date: 1788

Shelfmark: Additional MS 15540

Item number: f.142

Length: 269

Width: 187

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Manuscript

In the words of Queen Elizabeth I, St Mary's is "The fairest, goodliest and most famous Parish church in England". It is indeed a very beautiful church, built on a grand scale and displaying intricate craftsmanship both inside and out.

A church has stood on this site since the reign of King Henry I (1100-1135), but the actual construction of St Mary's was begun between 1232-1246. By 1376 it was completed more-or-less as it stood in Grimm's time and as we can see it today.

However, the church has undergone many repairs and renovations in its nearly 800 years' existence. In 1446 lightening struck the spire and it collapsed into the nave. The 292 ft spire seen today was added in 1872.

The church is associated with a great story of literary forgery. Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770) attempted to deceive the literary world when he tried to pass off parchments, wriiten in his own hand, as the lost poetry of a 15th-century monk and poet. Though he was believed in some quarters, he was generally considered to be a forgerer. He killed himself by drinking arsenic when he was still only seventeen.

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