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English Church Architecture -



WYKE REGIS, All Saints (SY 662 777)     (April 2007)

(Bedrock:  Upper Jurassic, Corallian Group)


This is an all-Perpendicular church (shown left from the southeast) that appears to have been erected in a single phase and dedicated (according to Pevsner) in 1455.  It is notable for the uniformity both of its design and construction material, which is Portland ashlar throughout, the best of which has usually been obtained from the Winspit member at the top of the youngest (Portlandian) stage of the Upper Jurassic System.


Formed of a chancel composed of a single bay, an aisled nave without a clerestory, a S. porch and a W. tower, the stylistic unity of the building is most evident externally in the form of the windows, and internally, in that of the nave arcades and tower arch.  Save only for the bell-openings (which are two-light with straightened reticulation units in their heads) and the five-light chancel E. window, the windows are otherwise three-light, with West Country alternate tracery and subreticulation.  The majority are uncusped, which creates a severe impression, the only exceptions being the chancel window to the south (the N. wall is blank) and the E. window already mentioned, with two tiers of principal reticulation units, including a triangular-arched lower tier with subreticulation. (See the photograph, right.)  The tower rises in four stages (unless the quarter stage between the springing-line of the bell-openings and the battlements is counted a fifth), supported by set-back buttresses and lit by a tall, transomed W. window in the second stage above a blocked doorway below.  The mouldings around the outer and inner porch doorways are uninterrupted by capitals, but the porch is covered internally by a wooden barrel vault with stylized flowers on the wall plates and at the intersections of the ribs.


Inside the church, the five-bay nave arcades are the most striking feature, supported by piers composed of four narrow semi-circular shafts with tall bases, separated by sunk quadrant mouldings.  (See the S. arcade, left.)  The latter continue all the way round the arches and from the capitals of the inner shafts rise rolls with fillets.  The tower arch is similar but inevitably taller, and there is no arch between the nave and chancel, allowing them both to be covered by the same low-pitched couple roof, with wall posts rising from corbels linked by a string course decorated with roses, supported in turn on demi-shafts rising from angel corbels in the arcade spandrels below.


Finally, the church contains no old furniture and while there are many wall monuments on the aisle and chancel walls, none are of real consequence. The largest, signed by Thomas Cooke of London (fl. 1796 - 1800) commemorates Samuel Wiston (d. 1817) “of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, Merchant and one of the Alderman of the Borough”.  (See also Hatfield Broad Oak in Essex.)  More noteworthy than this, however, is the unusual, slender font, which is contemporary with the building:  it is framed by eight vertical ribs which curve around a shallow bowl.