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English Church Architecture -



GIRTON, St. Andrew (TL 424 624)     (August 2013)

(Bedrock:  Lower Cretaceous, Gault)


This is a small church although not one without aspirations as its all-embattled exterior and two-storeyed porch make clear.  Constructed of limestone rubble and sandstone pebbles with limestone dressings, with arcades of clunch beneath a clerestory of Barnack stone within, it consists of a chancel, nave, W. tower, aisles beside both the nave and the tower, and S. porch, and presents itself today almost wholly in Perpendicular guise (as seen in the photograph above, taken from the south).  Slight evidence of former periods is confined to the tower W. wall masonry (where the herringbone arrangement of the lower courses hints at the church’s Norman origins), the aisle W. windows (that to the south with Y-traceried window characteristic of the thirteenth century and that to the north, of early fourteenth century design), and the trefoil-cusped piscina recessed in the S. aisle S. wall.  However, since all these features seem likely to be in situ, they do suggest the dimensions of the church have not changed.


The Perpendicular windows throughout the building are three-light and untraceried, save only for the window in the porch upper storey, which has supermullioned tracery, the chancel E. window, which has five lights and a transom, and the tower W. window, which has a central light supporting a short supermullion.  The porch is now easily the most striking external feature, although the remains of a former gable line above the four-centred outer doorway shows the upper floor is a later addition.



The interior of the building is light and airy due to the relative absence of stained glass.  (See the photograph above, looking towards the chancel.)  The nave arcades consist of four bays plus one, since the arches alongside the tower are separated from the others by short wall pieces from which the tower arch springs.  These and the tower arch to the nave carry two flat chamfers and a hollow chamfer, but the arcade arches east of the tower are double-hollow-chamfered above compound piers with semicircular shafts towards the openings and simple chamfered angles towards the north and south.  This is a comparable design to that of the nave arcades at St. Gregory’s, Sudbury (Suffolk), where the work can be ascribed to c. 1375.  The chancel arch is similar but wider, of course, and so low at the apex as to be almost round.