English Church Architecture -
ALDSWORTH, St. Bartholomew (SP 154 101) (October 2011)
(Bedrock: Middle Jurassic, White Limestone Formation)
Three distinct phases of work are in evidence here: Norman-Transitional, late Perpendicular/ early Tudor, and Victorian, the last of which now appears to predominate.
The first is to be found entirely inside, where it is limited to the short three-bay N. arcade (seen left, from the west, and below, in a close-up of the easternmost pier). The pointed arches composed of two orders bearing wide, stopped chamfers, are commensurate with thirteenth century (Early English) design, but the circular piers and semicircular responds with dissimilar scalloped capitals (except for the narrower eastern respond which lacks scallops), are still unambiguously Norman. Of course, the piers and arches could be by different masons, whether separated or not by a short time gap, or alternatively, the original arches might even have been replaced. However, it seems more likely they are merely the result of changing times, and in that case a date of c. 1210 is probably the best fit.
All the remaining significant work at Aldsworth is transitional between the Perpendicular and Tudor styles, for although the Victorian work includes the chancel, organ chamber, and many of the windows, there is nothing about any of this that really needs to be said. The Perpendicular/ Tudor work includes the tower, N. aisle, and N. and S. porches. The tower rises in three short stages, supported by diagonal buttresses for the first one and a half, and is topped by battlements, short un-Gothic pinnacles at the corners, and a short octagonal spire with ribs down the angles and a single tier of one-light lucarnes in the cardinal directions. (See the photograph at the top of the page, taken from the southeast.) There is no W. door to the tower and only a one-light W. window, the simple bell-openings are two-light and square-headed beneath a label, and internally, the tower communicates with the nave through only a modest doorway.
The exceptionally narrow N. aisle retains two original, two-light N. windows east of the porch (one of which is shown left), with cinquefoil-cusped Y-tracery and little daggers above, set in square surrounds with traceried spandrels and prominent labels. The aisle is topped by a plain parapet with large corner pinnacles, while beneath, a deep frieze running all the way round (i.e. to east, north and west) is decorated with large, characterful grotesques. (The photograph below shows the two to the west.) A large niche in the leading edge of the northeast buttress, displays a crocketed ogee point and narrow buttresses at the sides terminating in crocketed pinnacles, and niches also feature inside the church, where a very tall, ogee-pointed one in the E. wall (right) displays the spoked wheel of St. Katherine on the base, shields in the spandrels and crocketed buttresses at the sides, and a second, much shorter, triangular-pointed niche, is cut into the N. wall, immediately to the left.
The N. porch is considerably larger than the S. porch, which was inaccessible on this visit. The former, however, has a round-arched outer doorway bearing a narrow flat chamfer, set beneath a label, a pointed inner doorway carrying a wide hollow and a wave, and - in between - an octfoil vault with circular centre, springing from shafts rising in the porch corners. A trefoil-cusped, square-headed niche, decorates the E. wall, and the outer doorway is hung with a heavy wooden doorway, defaced on the inside with the graffiti of the ages, in the centre of which may be seen the date “1636”, which may or may not be the date of the door itself.
Unfortunately, architecture apart, the church is otherwise devoid of artistic interest within. The eastern splay of the easternmost S. window to the nave, retains a mediaeval canopied niche, but everything else is bland or bare, and Alan Brooks, in the second edition of “The Cotswolds” volume of “The Buildings of England” (pub. Yale University Press, 1999) does well to make so much of it.