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English Church Architecture -



HADDENHAM, Holy Trinity (TL 464 756)     (July 2008)

 (Bedrock:  Lower Cretaceous, Lower Greensand Group)


This is a large church of pseudo-cruciform plan (see Appendix 3 for a definition of this term as used in these notes) though one so heavily restored that its architectural interest is now very limited. The W. tower was entirely rebuilt in 1876 (see the photograph left), albeit re-using the masonry around the third-stage circular windows where ballflower decorating the two orders suggests an original date of c.1320.  However, the chancel windows are mostly uncusped lancets, so perhaps the building’s construction began here in the thirteenth century and progressed only slowly westwards.   The church consists of a W. tower, an aisled nave with N. and S. porches, shallow transepts, and a chancel with cross-gabled N. vestry, and otherwise consists of Victorian Second Pointed work outside.  The tower rises in four stages supported by set-back buttresses, to bell-openings composed of pairs of large cinquefoiled lancets beneath a prominent corbel table. The W. window (right) has reticulated tracery, and ballflower and dogtooth ornament around the arch, while the W. doorway has a complex profile arranged in five orders.  The two-light aisle windows adopt a number of forms, the  clerestory windows (set above the arcade apices) are Y-traceried but variously cusped and uncusped, and the transepts are lit from the north and south by groups of three trefoiled, stepped lancets.


Inside the building, the principal feature of interest is the arches.  The six-bay nave arcades spring from octagonal piers with characteristic early fourteenth century capitals and little broaches rising into the double-flat-chamfering above, but the easternmost pier on each side (where the aisle meets the transept) is round and constructed of marble. These date from the restoration, but the round arches with complex mouldings between the aisles and transepts may be essentially mediaeval.  The crossing arches from the transepts are also double-flat-chamfered but taller than the aisle arcades, and the arch from the chancel is similar but taller again.   The deep, elaborate tower arch is supported beneath the innermost order by semi-quatrefoil responds, while the outermost rises from a pair of shafts with leaf capitals.


Finally, the easternmost S. window in the chancel has a dropped sill forming a sedilia with an order of attached side-shafts, and this is followed eastwards by a trefoil-cusped piscina and an aumbry.  Recessed in the N. wall opposite, there are the remains of an Easter sepulchre.   The octagonal font is decorated around the bowl with roses and angels holding shields, and rests on a stem with four lion supporters.