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English Church Architecture -

East Riding of Yorkshire (U. A.).


FIMBER, St. Mary (SE 894 606)    (August 2012)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)













This is the least interesting of the six churches built by George Edmund Street (1824-81) for Sir Tatton Sykes II.  Erected between 1869 and 1871, it is a relatively small building, formed of a nave and chancel without external structural division, with the addition of a lean-to N. vestry, a small S. porch and a W. tower too narrow to be a success, even though the bell-stage has good details when considered in isolation.  (See the photographs above.)  The style is of the Early English/ Decorated transition, in common with all Street's churches in the North and East Riding and the majority of his churches anywhere.  The nave windows are two-light with encircled quatrefoils or cinquefoils in the heads, the N. and S. chancel windows are merely cinquefoil-cusped lancets, and the chancel E. window is three-light with outer lights subarcuated above pointed trefoils and a large quatrefoil set diagonally in the apex.  However, again as is usual with Street, it is the stepping up of the string course from west to east beneath these windows that is particularly diagnostic:  the chancel E. window is set a full 15' (4.6 m.) above the ground, even in a building of these modest dimensions.  The tower rises in four stages to a little pyramidal roof, supported by large clasping buttresses;  the trefoil-cusped bell-openings are set in the centre of three-bay blank arcades with arches separated by shafts in shaft-rings.  According to The Buildings of England, the church is constructed of "Whitby stone" throughout, by which is probably meant the fine-grained limey sandstones from the Saltwick Formation at the base of the Middle Jurassic, Lower Estuarine Series, quarried around Aislaby.  However, if so, the grey tower clearly derives from a different strata to the buff nave and chancel.   The roofs are of red or orange tile.


Internally, one of the most striking features of the building is the height of the tower arch in relation to its width.  The font beneath (shown left) is by far the simplest in Street's churches for Sir Tatton Sykes, consisting of a plain octagonal bowl decorated only with recessed quatrefoils in circles in the cardinal directions, supported on a moulded octagonal base.  The nave windows are set in deep rere-arches with sunk quadrant mouldings above. The stone pulpit in the southeast corner of the nave has open tracery in two tiers, made up of trefoil-cusped arches below and quatrefoils in circles above.  The nave roof is arched to the collars, with further arched braces supporting the purlins at the ⅓ and ⅔ positions.


The chancel arch is composed of a wave moulding and a roll, springing from wide semicircular responds with fillets. The brass and wrought iron chancel screen stands on a stone dado decorated with a frieze of blank quatrefoils; the three-light section on either side of the gated opening is composed of tracery supported on octagonal brass columns turning to spirals.  There is a two-bay, cinquefoil-cusped stepped sedilia recessed in the S. wall, with a two-bay, trefoil-cusped piscina beyond, and the reredos is elaborately carved in shallow relief in a pink and white stone resembling soapstone (but probably marble), with leaves and repeating patterns running across a central recess containing a rood and a two-light blank window on either side, with pointed trefoils above trefoil-cusped lights.  (See the detail, illustrated right.)  The chancel roof is painted with stars on a maroon, blue and mauve background.