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English Church Architecture -



KEMPSFORD-WITH-WHELFORD, St. Anne (SU 169 989)    (October 2012)

(Bedrock: Upper Jurassic, Oxford Clay Formation)












This chapel-of-ease to St. Mary's, Whelford, is one of the humblest little buildings designed by George Edmund Street (1824-81).  Constructed of uncoursed stone rubble beneath tiled roofs in 1862-4 at the height of the High Victorian Movement, it nevertheless displays within its very small scale the "massing" (which David Verey in The Buildings of England calls the "elemental geometry") characteristic of the time.  (See the photograph above left, taken from the southwest, and above right, from the northeast, looking into the sun.)  The church is formed of a nave and apse with a leaded E. bellcote, a wooden S. porch, and a cross-gabled N. vestry and S. organ chamber, set opposite each other at the east end of the nave in the form of mini transepts.  The period style is Street's usual one of c. 1300, with cusped lancets predominating and a wheel window in the W. gable (composed of a sexfoil in a circle), above a prominent central buttress.


The church interior is also simple and it is evident that Street had little money to spend, and yet, rather surprisingly, he appears to have designed the majority of the furnishings:  the candlesticks are recognisably his, the base of the lectern is decorated with traceried gables like those on the buttresses of the prestigious St. Andrew's, Toddington, and the attractive apse ceiling (illustrated below), brightly painted with stars on a blue background, between ribs picked out in red and yellow, is a reduced version of others he was designing at this time, as exemplified at Howsham (N. Yorkshire).  The arch around the apse carries a flat chamfer and a hood-mould, and the rere-arches of the lancet windows are surrounded by narrow stopped hollows.