English Church Architecture -
DROPMORE, St. Anne (SU 934 864) (September 2019)
(Bedrock: Palaeocene, Lambeth Group)
According to The Buildings of England, this little church by William Butterfield (1814-1900) was erected in 1865 for £1,364, although it then consisted only of the nave and chancel, together with the S. porch, very shallow S. transept, and little wooden belfry sitting above the nave W. end (as seen in the photograph above). Butterfield added the N. transept in 1877. The transversely-gabled N. vestry is the work of another architect, executed in 1911 in a sympathetic style.
Paul Thompson made much of this little church* but, obviously, given the money at Butterfield's disposal, the original building was never going to be one of Butterfield's more remarkable creations albeit that it bears his basic hallmarks, most obviously with an exterior faced in contrasting materials - in this particular case, knapped flint and red brick, with the latter running in bands around the nave but creating chequer-work patterns above window sill level around the S. transept and chancel. Internally the plastered nave walls are decorated with an upper frieze formed of a zig-zags pattern in blue vitrified brick set in a red brick background, and the chancel walls are faced predominantly in coloured brick in which the vitrified blue bricks now form lozenge patterns (as illustrated below). Windows consist entirely of cusped lancets, arranged chiefly in slightly stepped groups of three beneath square or segmental-pointed heads except (i) in the S. transept, where they form part of a two-light plate-traceried window with a quatrefoil in the head, and (ii), in the E. wall of the chancel, where they form a three-light plate-traceried window with outer lights topped by trilobes and the inner light stepped down beneath a sexfoil. The half-timbered nave W. gable seems a little out of keeping with the materials used elsewhere although the porch does also have open timber-work above the outer doorway, consisting of crosses set in squares beneath a scalloped barge-board. The steeply-pitched (60º) nave and chancel roof (shown at the foot of the page on the left) is scissor-braced within, without collars or tie beams, although wind braces run along each side, immediately above the wall plates. There is no structural division between the nave and chancel, in the walls or the roof, and the junction between them is demarcated solely by the wooden screen.
As for furnishings in the church, the principal features to notice are the font and the reredos. The font (below right) has a stone bowl forming an irregular octagon (with short sides alternating with longer ones) decorated with incised shapes, supported on black marble shafts set around a stone stem. The reredos is formed of a brown and orange tiling pattern with the tiles set lozenge-wise. He wooden pulpit is possibly Flemish in the opinion of The Buildings of England. As for the stained glass, the vestry E. window is reputedly by Morris & Co., but if so, it is a very poor example.
* William Butterfield, 1979, Routledge & Kegan Paul.