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English Church Architecture.

 

WYCK RISSINGTON, St. Laurence  (SP 192 216),

Gloucestershire. 

(Bedrock:  Lower Jurassic, Middle Lias Mudstones.)

 

A small Cotswold church notable for its thirteenth century chancel.

 

 

This is an attractive little church (viewed above from the southeast), still in a very rural village, accessible only along a single narrow lane, yet barely a mile and a half across country from Bourton-on-the-Water.  The building consists in plan of a W. tower, a nave with a short N. aisle and adjoining porch to the west, and a chancel.  The oldest feature is Norman and consists of a reset arch for a second door inside the porch, now leading eastwards into the aisle.  However, the church is interesting chiefly for its attractive Early English work, consisting of the tower and chancel which were apparently completed by 1269 when the building was reconsecrated by the Bishop of Worcester.

 

The tower, although short, rises in four diminishing stages, with a renewed doorway in the first, a lancet in the second, and small lancet bell-openings in both the third and the fourth;  the first two stages are angle-buttressed and, internally, the tower arch to the nave bears three flat-chamfered orders.  However,  it is the chancel that is most notable.  Only a single lancet remains to the south, but all three survive to the north (as seen in the photograph of the chancel immediately below, taken from the northeast), and the E. wall (illustrated at the foot of the page) is remarkable for being pierced by two widely separated pairs of lancets set beneath concave-sided lozenges, while a third, straight-sided rhombus, lights the gable above and between.  Inside, these lancets are all set in deep splays, the eastern pairs being encompassed by one large arch each, which also encloses the associated lozenge.  This odd design clearly predates the introduction of bar tracery and probably reflects in its elaboration the fact that for most of the thirteenth century the advowson was held by Eynsham Abbey in Oxfordshire.  The chancel arch bears two flat-chamfered orders and there are two contemporary piscinas recessed in the S. wall.

 

 

Later building features include a number of inserted Decorated and Perpendicular windows, including one in the former style at the eastern end of the nave S. wall, reset in a blocked arch, showing there was once a small transept in this position.  The renewed S. windows to the nave in Perpendicular style now owe most to the nineteenth century, following heavy restoration when the porch, aisle and arcade were added to the north.  However, the windows retain their attractive and remarkably well-preserved head label stops, which are a testimony to the quality of the fine local freestone.