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English Church Architecture -



FINGEST, St. Bartholomew (SU 777 911)   (September 2019)

(Bedrock: Upper Cretaceous, Holywell Nodular Chalk from the Middle Chalk)



This church (shown above from the southeast) is rightly noted for its massive Norman W. tower, 27 feet or 8.2 m. square, which Sir Alfred Clapham considered once to have served as the nave also,* rising without buttresses to two large round-headed bell-openings per wall, each formed of two orders with side shafts and scalloped capitals supporting roll mouldings around the arch heads.  The structure communicates with the present nave through an almost equally wide, round-headed tower arch (below left) (presumably once the chancel arch or - which is more probable - the arch to an apse), unmoulded save for the chamfered under-edges of the abaci.  It is lit by a few small, plain round-headed windows and a later W. window composed of three trefoil-cusped lights set in an encompassing arch, and covered today, as it has been for several centuries, by a double-saddleback roof with gables running east/west.

 The rest of the building holds little of interest.  The nave and chancel are built without structural division save only for a small drop in height from the former to the latter.  The nave N. wall. which is otherwise windowless, is pierced by one very small, restored round-headed window, suggesting the basic masonry at least is Norman also, albeit perhaps later, and the chancel has a renewed N. lancet, indicating an original thirteenth century date.  The S. windows to the nave and chancel are essentially Perpendicular, though almost entirely renewed, and two-centred in the nave and square-headed in the chancel.  The chancel E. window is three-light with West-Country-style alternate tracery without subreticulation.  The small wooden S. porch, set up against the tower/nave junction, is possibly an eighteenth century addition, but the interior of the building reveals nothing further of significance.  The nave roof (above right) has purlins one third of the way up the pitch, with wind-braces below and tie beams between the purlins, and the chancel roof is framed in seven cants.

* English Romanesque Architecture: Volume 2 - After the Conquest, 1934, Oxford University Press.