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English Church Architecture -



GREAT YELDHAM, St. Andrew (TL 758 387)     (June 2005)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


This is a curious building rather than an architecturally satisfying one, the key to the understanding of which lies in the recognition of the fact that the massive, two-storey S. porch was originally intended to be a S. tower before, for some reason, its construction was broken off, about a century before the conventional, angle-buttressed tower was added to the west.  Thus the church today consists of a chancel, a very short nave of just two bays, a tall W. tower, a N. aisle, and on the S. side - from east to west and all conjoined - a cross-gabled vestry, a cross-gabled chapel and the enormous porch.  (See the photograph left, taken from the southeast.)  Except in the tower, the details of all this are of mostly late fourteenth century date, albeit much restored, while the tower is fifteenth century work. However, the arch to the S. chapel could be fifteenth century also, to judge by the casement moulding around the outer order to the north, and the aisle arcade is wholly Victorian, as are the N. aisle N. windows, which leaves just the aisle E. window with supermullioned tracery to prove  there actually was an aisle here in the Middle Ages. The stump of the projected S. tower was converted into the over-sized porch by the addition of a stepped gable in English bonded brick, but its originally-intended use is shown by the position of the stair to the upper room which opens directly into the porch interior without so much as an intervening door.  The porch outer doorway has a crocketed, ogee-pointed arch, while above this is a two-light window with a niche at either side.  The W. tower (illustrated right, from the south) is by far the proudest part of the church and rises to three-light, untraceried, transomed bell-openings, and stepped battlements with crocketed pinnacles at the corners and statuettes at the mid-points.  A prominent stair turret projects to the southeast and the W. wall displays a large doorway of complex profile, with blank spandrels beneath a label, and a three-light supermullioned window above that. 


The building contains few furnishings of note apart from the pulpit and rood screen.  The pulpit (shown left) was considered by Pevsner to be Elizabethan and is decorated with blank arches round the sides.  The screen consists of six one-light divisions and retains mediaeval painted figures on the dado, south of the central opening.


The church contains a number of minor wall monuments of which Gunnis mentions one (Dictionary of British Sculptors: 1660 - 1851, The Abbey Library, 1951), namely that to Gregory Lewis (d. 1799) on the chapel E. wall, signed by John Bacon the Elder (1740 - 1799), another of whose monuments may be found at Hawstead in Suffolk, but there are also two others here, dated 1833 and 1835 and signed by “S. Manning”, who was most probably Samuel Manning the Elder (1788-1842), the partner of John Bacon the Younger, whose work may likewise be seen at Hawstead.