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English Church Architecture -



APPLEBY-IN-WESTMORLAND, St. Lawrence (NY 683  205)   (June 2009)

(Bedrock:  Permian, Penrith Sandstone Formation)

Although this church has been much renewed outside, internally the evidence is largely late thirteenth or early fourteenth century in date, with fifteenth century additions, the most notable of which is the clerestory. (See the photograph above, taken from the southeast.)   However, the earliest work is probably Norman and found in the base of the broad, squat, embattled tower, as witnessed by the round-headed window looking through to the Victorian N. vestry.  The next feature chronologically would appear to be the wide S. porch (illustrated left), with its outer doorway of three orders, the middle of which carries dog-tooth while the outer two were once supported on columns, only the capitals of which remain. Pevsner considered this entrance to be "a re-used C13 piece" but an alternative and simpler explanation might be that it is merely an example of conservative work done at a relatively late date (in this case, work in Early English style executed in the opening years of the fourteenth century), far from the influence of the Court.  The porch has stepped battlements to the south and no windows.  The inner doorway is formed of two flat-chamfered orders, the outer springing from columns of characteristic thirteenth century appearance.


Inside the building, the five-bay nave arcades (shown right, looking west) consist of double-flat-chamfered arches supported on quatrefoil piers with fillets down the foils, and the tower and chancel arches are similar. This is a fourteenth - even fifteenth - century form, and there seems no reason to quarrel with Pevsner's ascription of this to the early fourteenth century. (The head label stops between the bays are a rather pointless nineteenth century addition.)  The two-bay arcade from the chancel to the S. chapel (illustrated below left) also broadly fits this description, though it is not identical, for the proportions of the arches, the profiles of the capitals and, perhaps, even the stone employed, are all subtly different, suggesting that either the work is not exactly contemporary or that a different mason was employed (or possibly both).  To the east of this arcade, there is space for a window looking through between the chancel and chapel sanctuaries (as seen in the photograph). The rather crude arcade from the chancel to the N. chapel, also of two bays, with flat-chamfered arches springing from an octagonal central pier with a square capital, is difficult to interpret, but Pevsner considered it part of Lady Anne Clifford's restoration and partial reconstruction of the church, carried out in the mid-seventeenth century.  The arches are wider here and take up the entire length of the chapel, although the chapel is the same length as its southern counterpart and, similarly, ends flush with the chancel.  Half-arches acting as flying buttresses, cross north/south to divide the nave aisles from the chancel chapels, and a third, more massive example, crosses the S. aisle in line with the tower arch, to divide the nave aisle from its western extension, where it continues a little way beside the tower. 


Fifteenth century alterations to the church included the raising of the nave clerestory, whose round-arched windows (four to the south and three to the north), each formed of three stepped lights, bear absolutely no positional relationship to the arcade arches below.  This clerestory - rising high above the chancel roof, surmounted by battlements supported on corbel tables - may originally have been contemporary with the two-light, square-headed aisle and chapel windows, although, if so, the latter have since been wholly renewed. 


The N. chapel contains two monuments of significance, one - as might be expected - dedicated to Lady Anne Clifford (d. 1676), and one to Margaret, Countess of Cumberland (d. 1616).  The latter features a recumbent effigy of the countess in brown alabaster, her feet resting on a dog, lying on a tomb-chest bearing a long inscription. The former is a wall monument displaying no less than twenty-four coats of arms beneath a broken segmental pediment. 


Other notable internal features of the church include the parclose screens set in both bays of the S. chapel arcade and the westernmost bay (only) of the N. chapel arcade.  They are not particularly special but they are mediaeval, dating from the fifteenth or earliest sixteenth century.  The attractive plastered nave ceiling (illustrated right, from the east) was constructed in 1831.  The Victorian font is notable principally for its material, known as Frosterley Marble, which is actually a dark grey coralline limestone from the Carboniferous System, laid down about 350 million years ago and quarried from Weardale since at least 1183.  It is capable of taking a high polish although the effect is still sombre.


Finally, a note must also be added on the very impressive church organ.  It is believed to have been constructed within a year or two of the Restoration and brought here from Carlisle Cathedral in 1683.