( back to home page)

 

English Church Architecture.

 

LODDISWELL, St. Michael & All Angels  (SX 721 487),

DEVON. 

(Bedrock:  Lower Devonian, Meadfoot Group.)

 

A substantial and moderately large building deriving from two discrete periods.

 

Although this church displays many of the standard Perpendicular elements one encounters time and again in Devon, it is a more interesting building than some because most of the surviving building is earlier, its historical development seems reasonably clear, and the admittedly rough stonework has not been marred by a much more unpleasant rendering in cement or plaster, as is the case, for example, at Malborough, some five miles to the south.  The older parts of the church are constructed of grey sandstones and siltstones while the Perpendicular work has been largely executed in granite.

 

Contrary to what is usually the better procedure, it is more revealing to begin an examination of St. Michael & All Angels' church inside the building, where its plan is immediately clear and where the Perpendicular and pre-Perpendicular work can be distinguished more easily.  The church today consists of a one-bay chancel with independently-gabled chapels of equal length, a four-bay nave with a N. transept and an independently-gabled S. aisle, and a W. tower flanked to the south by a porch, which appears externally as a western continuation of the aisle.  (Note that the photograph at the top of the page, taken from the south, shows the S. aisle and S. chapel.  The nave and chancel, which are aligned with the W. tower, lie behind.)   An examination of the arches thrown up by these constituent parts, shows all the internal arches from the transept eastwards, to both the north and south, are stylistically very similar, formed of semi-octagonal responds supporting double-flat-chamfered arches.  This is a basic Early English form, implying the thirteenth century church had chancel chapels as now, and a transept on both sides of the nave, but, as yet, no aisle.  However, there are some differences to be seen even here for the arch from the chancel to the N. chapel is taller than its southern counterpart, suggesting it is not exactly contemporary, and the chancel arch, which more nearly matches the N. chapel arch in height, has capitals at two levels which seems to imply it was originally intended to spring from the lower level when the chancel and S. chapel were first built together, but that when the decision was taken to add a N. chapel soon afterwards, and to make it taller, it was thought better to raise the height of the chancel arch correspondingly.  Either before or afterwards, the S. respond of the chancel arch was also cut through to provide a squint from the former S. transept (as shown above left, viewed from what would once have been the S. transept but is now the easternmost bay of the S. aisle), and the N. respond of the chancel arch was severely mutilated higher up to create an exit for the former rood stair.

 

However, regardless of the precise sequence of events here, the rest of the S. arcade (i.e. the three western bays) - comprising arches carrying two wave mouldings, springing from piers composed of four shafts separated by hollows with capitals to the shafts only - adopts the standard late fifteenth or early sixteenth century form of, perhaps, a hundred or more church arcades in central and southern Devon, suggesting the granite pier sections and arch voussoirs were being mass produced during this period, at a central location. (See the photograph above right, taken from the southwest corner of the aisle.)  The integral S. porch is a less usual feature deriving from a time of moderate prosperity that led to this spate of church building across the county.  Its internal dimensions are striking since it occupies a space equivalent to one whole bay of the independently-gabled aisle, and it is also unusual in that inner doorway is set in the E. wall, thereby leading directly the west end of the aisle.

 

The modest W. tower is part of the thirteenth century church, so the building today retains its original length.  It rises in two stages to the simplest one-light bell openings and outward-projecting battlements supported by a corbel table below.  A large rectangular stair turret ascending the lower stage, projects prominently from the N. wall.

 

 

As for the windows around the building, the aisle windows assume the usual, uncusped, untraceried form associated with the Perpendicular arcade within (again, cf. Malborough), but the westernmost, four-light window in the S. chapel (above left) is more distinguished, and has supermullioned tracery, subarcuation of the lights in pairs and through-reticulation, while further to the east, a smaller two-light window with a straightened reticulation unit in the head, is commensurate with a late fourteenth century date.  The chancel and chapel east windows are difficult to view as there is only the narrowest passageway around this side of the building but the latter are three-light with two squashed and straightened reticulation units above, while the former is five-light with strong mullions, intersecting subarcuation of the lights in threes and through-reticulation.   (See the glossary for an explanation of these terms.) The N. transept N. window is modern and a very poor effort indeed, but the easternmost and westernmost three-light N. windows to the nave, which are similar to the chapel E. windows, and the central window of conventional supermullioned form, are old inside, even though they have been 'repaired' externally in concrete in what must be one of the most ham-fisted attempts at restoration conceivable.

 

 

This just leaves church furnishings to be described and only two items need to be mentioned here. The simple rounded font is Norman in origin, and features a frieze of carved saltires around the top and shallow spiral patterns lower down on the bowl, above a plain stem.  However, better by than this is the High Victorian pulpit (above right), dated 1867, and constructed of coloured marbles:  a book rest in pinky-brown marble is supported on a drum decorated with trefoil-cusped arches separated by black marble shafts with carved leaf capitals in stone and a frieze of inlaid marble roundels around the base.  Unfortunately, the artist seems to be unknown.  The inscription in one of the arches reads, 'This pulpit is erected by surviving relatives to the beloved memory of Richard Peek of Hazelwood, born 3rd October 1782, died 7th March 1867.  After rising by integrity and perseverance to high estate and office in London, he returned to his native parish where for many years he was an active and honoured county magistrate and a wise and tender friend to the poor'.