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English Church Architecture -



GUITING POWER, St. Michael (SP 096 246)   (September 2009)

(Bedrock: Middle Jurassic, Lower Inferior Oolite Formation)

The neighbouring parishes of Temple Guiting and Guiting Power are pockmarked with the abandoned quarries from which two of the defining building stones of the northern Cotswolds have been dug - the so-called "yellow" and "white Guiting" from the lower inferior oolite sequence at the base of the Middle Jurassic Series, which was laid down approximately 175 million years ago beneath a warm shallow sea.  Judged solely by appearances, St. Michael's, Guiting Power, must be built of the former, for its colour is certainly vivid against a lowering autumn sky. 


The building today has transepts comparable in length to the nave and chancel (see the photograph above, taken from the southeast.), and when one enters the S. transept through the S. door and looks north, one imagines at first one must be looking into the chancel from the nave.  This deception, however, is the result of the nineteenth century additions to the church, for the N. transept was added only in 1820 and the S. transept in 1844, and the illusion is made more convincing by the fact that the S. doorway (shown left) is a spectacular piece of re-set Norman work and the best architectural feature of the entire church.  The arch is composed of four orders, the inner three of which are decorated with a roll, three-dimensional chevron and horizontal chevron respectively, and these sit on imposts carved with incised horizontal lines, supported on three orders of shafts, respectively circular, octagonal and circular, with capitals exhibiting a variety of simple designs.  (See also the photogaph at the foot of the page, illustrating the shafts and capitals on the left.)  The tympanum is decorated with rows of horizontal chevron and there is more chevron running in concentric arcs around that, supported on a lintel with a carved central panel.   It amounts altogether to a most impressive display which eclipses the fine N. door to the nave (shown right), still in situ, which in many churches would be a very notable piece of work of itself. Here a single order of chevron round the arch, is surrounded by diapering and a hood-mould with billet, and the arch is supported on imposts decorated with cable moulding, above an order of round shafts with a scalloped capital to the right and a capital with a carved figure between leaf volutes to the left.


The rest of the exterior has been substantially restored and may be described quickly.  The chancel is thirteenth century in style, but substantially rebuilt, though the basic fabric appears essentially old, judging by the deep splays of the windows (i.e. as seen inside).  These windows are renewed lancets to the east and north, beside the cross-gabled N. vestry and organ chamber, and pseudo-Perpendicular in the S. wall towards the east, but the priest's doorway and lowside window alongside, in the S. wall towards the west (seen in the photograph at the top of the page), are apparently original.  The Perpendicular W. tower rises in three stages to battlements, supported by diagonal buttresses to the lower two only;  the bell-openings and three-light W. window with supermullioned tracery between strong mullions, all appear to have been renewed.


Inside the church, the chancel and transept arches are contemporary with the latest rebuilding of the chancel (in 1903 - church guide).  There are also arches from the chancel and N. transept into the organ chamber between them.  The tower arch is mediaeval and formed of two hollow-chamfered orders which continue down the jambs, uninterrupted by capitals.  The floor of the tower is reached up three deep steps from the nave, and standing beside the font within it, one looks out and down over the nave and chancel  from a substantial vantage point (as in the photograph, left).        


The font is Perpendicular and octagonal, with a quatrefoil in a circle on each face of the bowl and little trefoil-cusped arches on the sides of the stem.  The church contains no other furnishings that require mention but the mediaeval stone corbels beneath the wall posts of the renewed nave roof are worthy of note.  (See the example, illustrated right.)  The two in the corners by the tower, however, are additions of 1903 (ibid).