“…Lichen, which hath a wonderful operation to cure the rhagadies, fissures and chaps in the feet.” That’s Pliny the Elder’s top tip for getting your feet into shape for the summer.
But why stop at your feet? Lichen has been used in medicine over the globe centuries.

Some lichens have been found to have mild antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and were handy for treating scrapes and stings. But they also did some heavy-lifting medicinal work such as promoting hair growth, curing jaundice, and treating rabies.

Churches and churchyards are especially important for lichen.
 tell us that there are over 20,000 churchyards in England and they are home to almost half of all British lichen species. In fact some individual lichens may be as old as the gravestones they grow on.

In fact, there’s a specific type of lichen called Churchyard Lecanographa that *only* grows on the plaster of ancient churches in the south of England!!

Photo: DorsetNature

Lichens offer a form of cladding for stone. They love the deep crevices of lettering on gravestones, and often make the inscription more legible. Scrubbing off lichen often does more damage to the stonework.

For more churchyard content, give @godsacre a follow.


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More from @friendschurches

11 Jun
St Mary’s is the most beguiling of buildings. Set in a chocolate-box village in Wiltshire, built from honeyed stone in doll-like proportions, it’s a tiny masterpiece of Gothic Arts & Crafts style. And was built as a result of one woman’s grief…

#thread Image
In her will of 1899, Mary Barton left £10,000 for the purchase of a piece of land at Temple Corsley and the building of a chapel in the memory of her husband and son. Mary Barton’s executors chose Mr W. H. Stanley of Trowbridge as the architect.

2/ Image
It seems like this was the only place of worship Mr Stanley ever designed.

With the chapel designed, Buyers Brothers of Westbury won the contract to actually build it.

3/ Image
Read 7 tweets
8 Jun
Two gravestones side by side at Llanelieu, Powys commemorate nonagenarians who both 'departed this life in hope of a joyful resurrection' in the first quarter of the 18th century.

But they couldn't be more different … Image
A simple, engraved stone with minimal inscription remembers David Powell of Cwm-Hwnt, who died in 1725 aged 92. Image
In contrast, the maximalist memorial to William Awbrey, topped with the Awbrey coat of arms, has been carved in relief from top to bottom, much like a printing press block. It’s not so much a tombstone, as a *tome* stone! Image
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6 Jun
The ancient church at Llantrisant, Anglesey is tucked behind a farm. Among the plastered walls and panelled pews, is a marble Baroque monument. It dates to 1670 and commemorates Hugo Williams. It was erected by his son, William Williams, ‘a man of some dash and bravado’.

Born at Llantrisant in 1634, William Williams became named Speaker of the House of Commons – a role for which he felt himself to be eminently fitted. He became Treasurer of Gray’s Inn, for alongside his parliamentary career he continued a high-profile practice at the bar. 
But his career was marked by sudden changes of allegiance - and hence gave rise to his nickname as 'the arch trimmer' – a person who fluctuates between political parties. 
Read 7 tweets
3 Jun
St Helen’s closed in 2007. For thirteen years, it waited. Weary and forlorn, but magisterial in the mudstone outcrop west of Howden.

Inside, the walls are cracked and crumbling, plaster and paint are falling off in great sheets to reveal glimmers of a colourful past.

Given the dereliction at St Helen’s, Barmby on the Marsh, only fragments of the Victorian decorative schemes survive. However, we have been able to pick out some layers, and gain an idea of how this church may have looked in the 1850s and 1870s.

The earliest surviving scheme is simple and sober. It comprises a pinkish-brown dado to approximately a metre in height. Then a coat of powder blue runs to the ceiling. Just above the dado, a stencil scheme of light brown of repeating palmettes flows around the entire nave.

Read 8 tweets
1 Jun
St Michael's, Tremaen, in Ceredigion was constructed in the 1840s with an ashlar facing of distinctive Pwntan sandstone, quarried from nearby Tanygroes. ... Image
Pwntan is an Ordovician sandstone, making it about 440-480 million years old. This pale, fine-grained, ironstained stone can be precisely cut by skilled masons. The tight interlocking of polygonal stone blocks at Tremaen is masterful. Image
Local blogger & Welsh stone enthusiast Caroline Palmer puts it perfectly:

‘So close is the fit that mortar looks to have been almost superfluous, and ... the whole external surface of the church resembles a complex jigsaw puzzle in which no two pieces are even similar.' Image
Read 5 tweets
24 May
On an external wall of St Lawrence's, Hutton Bonville, North Yorkshire, you can spot an ordnance survey benchmark.

From the 1830s to the 1990s surveyors made these benchmarks to record height above Ordnance Datum Newlyn (ODN – mean sea level determined at Newlyn in Cornwall). From this reference, the elevation of another benchmark could be calculated by measuring the difference in heights.
The horizontal marks supported a stable ‘bench’ that a levelling stave could rest on. This design ensured that a stave could be accurately repositioned in the future and that all marks were uniform.
Read 5 tweets

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