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English Church Architecture -



LINTON, St. Mary (TL 562 466)     (July 2005)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


The real interest of this church lies within for the Perpendicular exterior presents a distinctly dull face to the world, with untraceried windows almost everywhere and a rather plain tower with one-light bell-openings except towards the east.  (See the photograph left, taken from the southeast.)  It is a fairly large building, however, consisting, besides the tower, of an aisled nave with N. and S. porches and a chancel with N. and S. chapels, and is all-embattled except for the chancel, which is tiled.  The tower rises in three stages, supported by angle buttresses to the first stage only;  the stair turret is built into the wall at the northwest angle and curiously opens to the outside at ground level.  The construction material throughout is the usual mix of flint and other fieldstones with limestone dressings.


Inside the church one gains a different perspective for the aisle arcades are completely dissimilar yet both pre-date everything seen so far.  The S. arcade comes first (see below right) and is now five and a half bays long, showing that the construction of the tower came later and led to its truncation at the W. end.  Composed of alternately circular and octagonal piers and of arches of complex profile formed chiefly of little keeled rolls and hollows, it would fit a date around the third quarter of the thirteenth century.  In the three spandrels at the western end, are three circular openings, one enclosing a quatrefoil, which must once have formed a low clerestory but which now look through only to the aisle.  The N. arcade spans the same distance as its southern counterpart in a mere three bays, formed of double-flat-chamfered arches springing from quatrefoil piers.  The date this side could be c. 1300.  The narrow, triple-flat-chamfered tower arch is also thirteenth century work, and so the various parts of the building must have followed one another in fairly quick succession. The chancel arch matches the N. arcade. The two-bay arcade from the chancel to the S. chapel is composed of four-centred arches supported on a central pier made up of four semicircular shafts separated by hollows, with corresponding responds at either end.  This is probably fifteenth century work, whereas the single wide arch between the chancel and N. chapel (now organ chamber), with a complex profile and semicircular shafts towards the openings, is known to date from 1587.  There are no arches dividing the chapels from the nave aisles.


The church contains a number of monuments of note, including a significant seventeenth one, “oddly ironed flat” (Pevsner) against the E. wall of the N. chapel, which is nevertheless impossible to examine properly because of the position of the organ.  It displays two demifigures, intended to portray John Millicent (d. 1527) and his wife.  Much easier to view is the monument on the S. aisle S. wall around the point where the aisle and chapel meet (see the thumbnail, left), commemorating Eliza Bacon (d. 1726) and her brother, Peter Standley (d. 1780).  Erected in 1782, it is signed by Joseph Wilton (1722-1803), a fine sculptor responsible for several monuments in Westminster Abbey.  It depicts two allegorical figures, one holding an anchor and the other winged, representing (according to Pevsner) Hope and Faith.  Finally Gunnis mentions a third monument (Dictionary of British Sculptors - 1660-1851, The Abbey Library, 1951), dedicated to Elizabeth Owen (d. 1805), by Richard Westmacott the Elder (1747- 1808).  Other work by him may be seen at Dullingham in this county, Margaretting, Essex, Shimpling, Suffolk, and most especially, at Sherborne in Gloucestershire.