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English Church Architecture.


TYDD ST. MARY, St. Mary  (TF 446 186),


(Bedrock:  Middle Jurassic, Ampthill Clay Formation.)


A pleasant village church with a very early thirteenth century interior.


This is a substantial and attractive church in a  pleasant little fen village just off the A1101.  Composed of a chancel, an aisled nave with a S. porch, and a W. tower with a recessed spire, it preserves its oldest work inside, but as the tower is seen first, that is a better place to begin.


This is an impressive structure, built of rough early mediaeval brick and rising in three stages supported by stone angle buttresses, to brick battlements and a surmounting, recessed, octagonal stone spire lit by three tiers of lucarnes (sic Pevsner said two (The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, New Haven & London, Yale University Press, 2002, p. 770)) in alternating directions.  Both the tower and the spire are approximately 55 feet tall (16.8 m.) according to notes in the church, which also ascribe both to the fifteenth century, which the use of bricks might support.   The W. doorway carries a series of waves and hollows, and there are three stepped niches above, now containing modern statues. (See the photograph below left.)  A semi-octagonal stair turret at the east end of the S. wall, is lit by four narrow rectangular lights.


The oldest work to be seen externally is the fine Decorated chancel, with windows each side (i.e. north and south) consisting of one with cusped Y-tracery and one with cusped intersecting tracery, each with narrow trefoils above the lights. (See the S. window below right.)  This design considered alone might indicate c. 1310, yet the lights are slightly ogee-pointed, and since the ogee rarely makes an appearance before c. 1315, then Pevsner and the notes in the church, not unreasonably, propose c. 1320.   The E. window is Victorian.




With the exception of a Decorated two-light window in the E. end of the N. aisle, the nave aisles are lit by an assortment of restored Perpendicular windows, the majority of which are square-headed.  Most interesting among them, however, is a three-light, four-centred one to the north, with its central light crossed by a castellated transom.  The shallow, windowless S. porch has an outer doorway bearing two flat chamfers above semi-octagonal shafts.


Inside the church, the five-bays arcades (seen below, viewed from the west) are early thirteenth century in date and, indeed, both Pevsner and the notes in the church describe them as Transitional, but even if this ascription is accepted, the date proposed by the latter ('1145-89') is certainly too early, one of c. 1210-20 probably constituting a rather better estimate.  The arches are pointed and carry two wide flat chamfers, which is unlikely to be twelfth century work, even though pointed arches do make their first appearance in England c. 1160-80 in prestigious work, as in the chancel and transepts at Ripon Cathedral.  The piers and responds are circular and semicircular respectively, and the capitals, octagonal, with two to the north perhaps showing an initial intention (abandoned thereafter) to decorate them with water leaf.  The tall chancel arch, which is double-flat-chamfered above semi-octagonal responds, is presumably contemporary with the chancel, along with the cinquefoil-cusped sedilia of three equal bays and the double-piscina beyond, recessed in the S. wall.  The tower arch carries one flat and one hollow chamfer above a pair of narrow semicircular shafts with a fillet, topped by large castellated capitals.  The Perpendicular nave clerestory comprises five pairs of four-centred, two-light windows, with strong central mullions.



Finally, the church contains few notable furnishings but the font is Perpendicular and formed of an octagonal bowl decorated by angels holding shields, supported on an octagonal stem decorated with cinquefoil-cusped blank arches.  There is no old carpentry of significance apart from the nave roof, which is probably contemporary with the clerestory.  The church contains a number of monuments, of which one on the N. aisle N. wall (illustrated below) is reputedly by Rysbrack (1694- 1770).   It commemorates Sigismund Trafford (d. 1741) and features the deceased carved in low relief, in profile, sitting on the cornice, but was only ever remarkable if the likeness was a particularly fine one.