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English Church Architecture -

Berkshire West (U. A.).


FARNBOROUGH, All Saints (SU 435 819)     (July 2012)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


Perhaps the most important feature of this little church  is the stained glass in the W. window of the tower, designed by John Piper as a memorial for Sir John Betjeman (The Buildings of England:  Berkshire, pub. Yale University Press, 2010).  The building itself  (seen left, from the southeast) is formed of a chancel, nave, W. tower and S. porch, and retains a little Romanesque work in the form of the blocked round-headed N. doorway to the nave (shown in the thumbnail, below right) formed of a single unmoulded order supported on protruding abaci, and two small round-headed windows alongside, whose jambs (within) display the relatively modest thickness of the wall, suggesting an Anglo-Norman date in the second half (probably the third quarter) of the eleventh century.


Other windows in the church are Perpendicular and restored, save only for a little lancet in the N. wall of the chancel.  The porch inner doorway could be contemporary with this (i.e. thirteenth century) but the porch itself is Victorian.  The W. tower is Perpendicular and rises to battlements in three short stages, supported by diagonal buttresses for the first one and a half.  Its distinguishing feature is the wide, semi-octagonal stair turret with conical roof, projecting from the east end of the S. wall.  Inside the church, the double-flat-chamfered, four-centred tower arch to the nave is supported on angel corbels.  The chancel arch has a continuous flat chamfer around the outer order and a hollow around the inner, supported on corbel shafts.


The only item of church furniture of note is the octagonal font (illustrated right) with carved detail so crisp to remind one of Coade stone.  The bowl features shields in lozenges on the cardinal faces and roses in quatrefoils in the ordinal directions, and is supported beneath by faces and four-petalled flowers.  The octagonal stem has columns with prominent capitals and bases at every angle.