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English Church Architecture -



LITTLE HADHAM, St. Cecilia (TL 447 228)     (July 2010)

(Bedrock:  Palaeocene, Thanet Sand Formation)


This little church (seen above from the southeast), standing in an attractive open position just off the busy A120, has three principal features of interest in its S. porch, N. transept and pulpit.  It consists, apart from the porch and transept, of a W. tower, nave and chancel, of which the tower rises in two stages supported by diagonal buttresses, to two-light Perpendicular bell-openings, battlements and a Hertfordshire spike, and the nave and chancel are lit by windows that are mostly now Victorian except for one two-light window with supermullioned tracery to the south. The porch (illustrated below left) is built of heavy timbers, with open trefoil-cusped sides and a trefoil-cusped bargeboard at the front: although clearly mediaeval, it is difficult to date closely and it is possible that not all its timbers are actually contemporary.  The transept (shown below right) is constructed of English-bonded brick, implying a date before c. 1630;  the windows to east and west are formed of three uncusped lights separated by strong mullions beneath a four-centred arch, and the N. window is four-light with intersecting tracery.    















Inside the building, there is no chancel arch and the very wide transept arch is composed of two flat-chamfered orders separated by a hollow, above large semi-octagonal responds.  The comparatively tall tower arch is formed of three orders, of which the innermost bears a wave above semicircular shafts and the other two carry a second wave and a flat chamfer that continue uninterrupted down the jambs.


The three-decker pulpit is very grand although it is not in its original state for the principal upper part is seventeenth century in date, with its excellent backboard and huge tester, and the rest, probably eighteenth. (See the photographs below.)   It faces north down the transept, where the benches all oppose it.   The backboard has wooden columns at the sides and a little shield in the panel at the top, scratched with the date "1633" (just discernible by enlarging the photograph below right).  The tester has acorn pendants at the angles and a carved sun underneath.   


















The rood screen (illustrated below) comprises five sections each side of the central opening, with a mixed tracery above.  The top rail is castellated and the dado is panelled with blank cinquefoiled arches beneath a scrolled rail.  This is probably late fifteenth or early sixteenth century work. 

Finally, Gunnis mentioned one marble tablet in the church (Dictionary of British Architects: 1660-1851, The Abbey Library, 1951), commemorating Nicholas Parry (d. 1823).  Its modest significance is that it is signed by William Croggan (fl. 1814 - 1840), a cousin of Eleanor Coade and, from 1813, her partner in her artificial stone manufactory on the site of the present Royal Festival Hall.