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English Church Architecture -

Cambridgeshire.

 

LANDBEACH, All Saints (TL 477 654)     (October 2014)

(Bedrock:  Lower Cretaceous, Gault)

 

 

 

The building consists of a chancel with an apparently Victorian N. vestry-cum-organ-chamber, a mediaeval aisled nave and S. porch with a twentieth century cross-gabled extension opposite to the north, and a W. tower with a narrow spire.  (See the photograph above, taken from the southeast.)  Most of the structure has been rendered in concrete but the tower probably betrays the original construction materials as a very humble mix of pebble and flint rubble, which includes a significant quantity of liquorice-coloured pudding stone.  The tower rises in three stages, supported by diagonal buttresses.  The spire behind the battlements is lit by two small tiers of crocketed gabled lucarnes, the lower tier stepped to allow space for a door to the east.  Inside the church, the tower arch to the nave bears one flat and one hollow chamfer running all the way round, the latter flattening out as it continues down the jambs.  

 

 

The aisle and clerestory windows are Perpendicular in style, the former three-light and segmental-pointed, with strong mullions and supertransoms to the central lights (see the example, below left), and the latter with depressed Y-tracery in a manner that was common around 1400.  The three assorted chancel windows to the south and east, and the Y-traceried tower bell-openings, have all been renewed and provide no useful dating evidence, but if there is a surviving original window in the church, it might possibly be the tower W. window, with reticulated tracery.  Failing that, the principal evidence of the building's early fourteenth century vintage is the tall four-bay aisle arcades, formed of tall octagonal piers with prominent capitals, supporting arches bearing one flat and one hollow chamfer, although there is also a tomb canopy of this period, recessed in the N. wall of the N. aisle (right), with a double cinquefoil-cusped, crocketed ogee arch cut into by one of the later aisle windows from the right.   

 

 

The double-flat-chamfered chancel arch rises from semi-octagonal responds with capitals more or less identical to those of the aisle arcades, but of greater interest are the mediaeval arches to the organ chamber from the chancel and N. aisle.  Both carry two flat chamfers, which die into the walls in the case of the arch from the aisle and rise from semi-octagonal responds in the case of the arch from the chancel.  However, the salient point, of course, is that there was formerly a mediaeval chapel here, before the Victorian alterations.

 

 

The unusual nave roof of mansard shape (below left), is framed with tie beam and hammerbeam trusses alternately, and retains its original angels on the hammerbeams, albeit with wings removed.  Other carpentry to notice includes the rather crude rood screen of indeterminate age constructed in three, three-light panels, and the rather poor misericords along the sides of the chancel.  The lectern (below right) is far more striking, although seriously out of provenance.  Featuring an angel holding the book-rest, it was described by Pevsner as "large, very splendid [and] utterly un-English" and ascribed to Holland of the early to mid seventeenth century.