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English Church Architecture -

Cumbria.

 

CROSBY GARRETT, St. Andrew (NY 730 097)     (April 2009)

(Bedrock:  Carboniferous Dinantian Subsystem, Melmerby Scar Limestone Formation)

The small villages nestling in the dales of eastern Cumbria are relatively unvisited yet often delightful.  Crosby Garrett is just such an example and its church is wonderfully situated on the top of a steep little hill that provides a wide panorama over the fells to the north and east, and a dramatic view over the roofs of the village houses to the south.  Approached from this direction, where the gradient is at its stiffest, the churchyard seems to occupy most of the hilltop, and it is a fine sight in spring, with clumps of daffodils between dark conifers.

 

St. Andrew’s church (shown above, from the northeast) consists of a chancel with a humble lean-to N. vestry, a nave with a N. aisle and S. porch, and a bell-turret to the west, supported partly above the nave and partly on projecting corbels.  Like many churches in this region, it is externally much renewed - in this case in 1865/6 (according to notes in the church), when the north and east walls of the N. aisle were rebuilt and the group of three stepped lancets was inserted in the E. wall of the chancel.  However, a chancel S. window with a quatrefoil opening above trefoil-cusped lights and a castellated transom, may be an indication that this part of the building is essentially early fourteenth century work, at least in its basic masonry.  The porch is dated 1662 on one of the roof tie beams.

 

More importantly, the interior of the building presents an older and more coherent story, for the three-bay N. arcade (shown in the upper thumbnail below right, looking northwest) is formed of round arches of two unmoulded orders, springing from responds with semicircular shafts supporting the inner order, and from two very heavy circular piers with square capitals, suggesting a date scarcely later than c. 1140.  The finest detail is the capital of the western pier (illustrated left, viewed from the southeast), with carved beasts and figures on the corners, of which that to the southwest is clearly a muzzled bear, and that to the southeast, presumably a Green Man, whose long moustache extends into a line of twisted foliage.  The low chancel arch (shown in the lower thumbnail, viewed from the chancel) is pointed and Norman-Transitional:  it carries two narrow flat chamfers - the inner, supported on corbels and the outer, continuous down the jambs.  Other original features appear to include the inside of the round-headed N. aisle W. window and the large rectangular squint looking through from the aisle to the sanctuary. 

 

The chancel is open to the roof but the nave has an inserted plaster ceiling;  the aisle is independently-gabled and also open.   The wooden furniture now appears entirely Victorian except for the communion rail with turned balusters, which is probably Jacobean.  Finally, the church contains one well executed monument (illustrated in the thumbnail, left), signed by Gaffin of Regent Street, London, commemorating Matthew Thompson (d. 1871).  It features the standard elements of an urn and a weeping woman but the figure and draperies are well-handled and, perhaps more significantly, it seems to extend the life-time of this firm beyond Gunnis's date of 1865 (Dictionary of British Sculptors: 1660-1851, pub. The Abbey Library, 1951) unless a third relation took over after the original father and son partnership ended through death or retirement.