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English Church Architecture -

East Riding of Yorkshire (U. A.).


BROOMFLEET, St. Mary (SE 881 273)     (April 2013)

(Bedrock:  Triassic Mercia Mudstone Group, Keuper Marl)


This is one of the smallest churches by John Loughborough Pearson (1817-97), constructed in 1860-1 at the expense of Elizabeth Barnard of South Cave (The Buildings of England – York & the East Riding by David Neave and Nikolaus Pevsner, 2nd ed., pub. Penguin, 1995).  It stands in a pleasant little one-street village, which confounds one’s expectations after driving across the windswept expanse of Walling Fen to within a mile of the Humber estuary.  One imagines Elizabeth Barnard took pride in this little community, for she engaged for this small job, one of the most notable church architects of the day, albeit one with local connections.  What she got for her money was a simple nave and chancel, to which Pearson added stature by the provision of a N. porch tower.  (See the photograph, left, taken from the northeast.)


This is unbuttressed and rises in two stages to a short pyramidal spire.  The bell-openings are formed of pairs of lancets separated by shafts, with circles in the heads.  The N. doorway is double-flat-chamfered with an order of side-shafts, and the entrance is lit by a pair of little lancets to the east and the west.


The nave windows are two-light to north and south, with encircled trefoils and quatrefoils above trefoil-cusped lights; the W. wall is pierced by two widely separated, trefoiled lancets, and an encircled cinquefoil in the gable.  The chancel has two lancet lights to the north, and a three-light E. window with trefoil-cusped outer lights and a cinquefoiled inner light, beneath two encircled cinquefoils and an encircled quatrefoil in the apex.  The chancel S. wall is taken up by the vestry, with its three-light transomed S. window formed of trefoiled-lancets separated by mullions.  The external masonry (of which a sample is shown below left) consists of limestone rubble offset with two bands of ashlar, approximately 5½′ ( 1.7 m.) and 8½′ (2.6 m.) up.


Inside the church, the chancel arch is double-flat-chamfered with the inner order dying into the jambs.  The chancel furnishings are very simple:  the sedilia is formed of three separate arches with a flat chamfer round the heads.  The pair of N. lancets together, have a lowered sill, which was probably intended to act as a credence shelf.  However, the most interesting internal feature is the nave roof (below right), which is arched to the collars and tied longitudinally by purlins at the ⅓ and ⅔ stages, in a visually much more satisfactory arrangement than, for example, Butterfield’s almost contemporary nave roof at Wykeham (N. Yorkshire), erected, one imagines, at substantially greater expense.