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St Edmund's Church, Sedgefield

Durham

Architecture

St Edmund’s is a fine 13th century church with a tall, dominating tower but it is included here because of the carved woodwork inside. Mediaeval decoration in most English churches was destroyed by Puritans during the Reformation but eventually, in the 17th century, churches began to be enriched once again.

One of the leaders of this process was John Cosin a local vicar and prebend in Durham who eventually became Bishop in 1660. As part of his belief in the importance of ritual, Cosin filled many of the churches in the county with elaborate woodwork and Sedgefield is one of the finest surviving examples.

It was brilliantly carved by a local man called Robert Barker and is an extraordinary and almost unique mixture of Gothic and Classical motifs – looking back to the mediaeval past but confidently modern at the same time.

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