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English Church Architecture -

Cambridgeshire.

 

LITTLE CHISHILL, St. Nicholas (TL 419 372)     (August 2012)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

 

This is an attractive little building in a deeply rural position and it hardly seems to matter that it has little to offer of architectural interest.    Composed of a chancel, a nave with a S. porch, and a short W. tower, it is the humble combination of clunch and flint rubble walls with orange-brown tiled roofs, including the pyramidal roof to the tower, that give it its particular charm.  (See the photograph above, taken from the southeast)  The western half of the chancel is Norman, as shown by a round-headed N. window (right) with a little flat-chamfered order round the head, which was once supported by an order of shafts.  Internally, the window has a roll around the rere-arch and diminutive shaft-rings at the springing level (as seen below left).  The Y-traceried window further east in the same wall witnesses the eastward extension of the chancel about a century later although the window directly opposite (i.e. in the S. wall) has renewed reticulated tracery, while the window to the west of that (seen left of the buttress and the priest's doorway in the photograph at the top of the page) is formed of a renewed pair of trefoiled lights set above a recessed arch holding a stone coffin. The nave windows have all been renewed but the blocked N. doorway is Perpendicular, in common with the S. doorway inside the porch, with traceried spandrels decorated with encircled quatrefoils and little daggers.  The unbuttressed tower rises in two stages to two-light segmental-pointed bell-openings in Tudor brick to the north and south only, lit from the west by a renewed window.  The S. porch has a very worn outer doorway of carved clunch, which unusually, however, appears to have been given the same decoration on its internal face, preserving its original form:  the arch was composed of two keeled orders springing from two orders of engaged shafts, the spandrels were filled with quatrefoils in circles and little daggers, and the whole was framed by a wide rectangular hollow.  The two-light porch windows are set within in the central bays of four-bay blank panelling that continues below the sills.

 

Inside the church, the chancel arch is formed of three orders, the outer two, flat-chamfered, and the inner, bearing a couple of waves.  The responds to the  tall tower arch are composed of two orders of semi-octagonal shafts separated by a hollow chamfer;  the inner order supports a flat chamfer and a wave moulding above the capitals, and the outer order, the same in reverse order.

 

Church furnishings are not of much interest.   The best item by far is the collar-beam chancel roof (shown right), framed in seven cants, which probably dates from the fourteenth century.   The hammerbeam nave roof is modern. The dropped sill of the easternmost S. window to the chancel provides what passes for a sedilia and there is the simplest of piscinas beyond.  The font, decorated only by pointed quatrefoils on the faces on the octagonal bowl, now appears to stand on a little cut-down stem.