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English Church Architecture -



WYCK RISSINGTON, St. Laurence (SP 192 216)    (February 2001)

(Bedrock: Lower Jurassic, Middle Lias Mudstones)


This is an attractive little church (shown 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, though 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 (shown at the foot of the page, from the northeast, and in the thumbnail right, from the east).  Only a single lancet remains to the south, but all three survive to the north, and the E. wall  is remarkable in 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 the chancel, all these lancets are set in deep splays, with those to the east occupying one large arch per pair which also encompasses the lozenge above and is decorated with rolls that die into the jambs.  This design clearly predates the introduction of bar tracery and is surprisingly rich for a church in such a small village, albeit that for most of the thirteenth century the advowson was held by Eynsham Abbey (Oxfordshire) who, presumably, were not especially short of money.  The chancel arch bears two flat-chamfered orders and there are two contemporary piscinas both recessed in the chancel S. wall.


Finally of later times, there are a number of inserted Decorated and Perpendicular windows in the building, including one from the former period at the eastern end of the nave S. wall, reset in a blocked arch, which shows that at one time there was a small transept here.  The Perpendicular S. windows to the nave were heavily restored in the late nineteenth century, when the porch, aisle and arcade were added to the N. side of the church. However, the S. windows retain their attractive head label stops (see the two thumbnails above rleft), which are remarkably well preserved - a testimony, above all, to the quality of the local freestones.