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English Church Architecture.

 

APPLETON-LE-STREET, All Saints  (SE 735 736),

NORTH YORKSHIRE. 

(Bedrock:  Upper Jurassic, Lower Cretaceous Grit Member,)

 

A delightful little building with a Saxon tower.

 

This excellent little church is by far the most important of the line of small churches strung out along the B1257 between Malton and Hovingham, both on account both of its age and its relative freedom from Victorian restoration.  Park in the car park behind the church when visiting, in order to obtain an uninterrupted view across the small field from the southeast (as illustrated).

 

Paramount is the Saxon W. tower, which rises in three unbuttressed stages, probably - to judge from the two-light bell-openings in the second and third stages, with slightly bulging baluster mullions between the lights - of tenth century date.  (Cf., for example, the bell-openings in the tenth century tower at Barton-on-Humber, North Lincolnshire.)  Pevsner, however, considered the third stage to represent a heightening of the tower, 'probably.... in the early twelfth century, and on conservative lines', which is a judgement he might have formed on the basis of the zigzag decoration on the shafts and the slightly different quality of the masonry (See 'The North Riding' volume of The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 2001, p.64).

 

The present doorway to the church (illustrated left), in the N. wall of the tower, is clearly a late Norman insertion.  The arch is formed of two chamfered orders with the outer order supported on side-shafts with waterleaf capitals, which are generally dateable to c. 1180-1200.  The doorway is enclosed within the most basic of porches, comprising two simple wall pieces with a couple roof  rather precariously balanced on top.  The present tower arch - which has spread widely towards the north and is formed of a single chamfered order supported on jambs chamfered at the angles but without attached shafts - may be contemporary.

 

The rest of the church, consisting of a chancel and two-bay aisled nave, is Early English (thirteenth century) or very early fourteenth century at the latest.  The chancel retains two tall and slender S. lancets, while a third pierces the E. wall of the N. aisle, and a fourth, the W. wall of the S. aisle.    The two-bay N. arcade is formed of pointed arches carrying two narrow flat chamfers, supported on a central, circular pier, and responds at either end, formed of keeled shafts attached to jambs which are chamfered at the angles - a design commensurate with the middle of the thirteenth century.  The S. arcade (shown right) may be a little later and contemporary, perhaps, with the three-light E. window in the aisle, which has cinquefoil-cusped intersecting tracery typical of c.1280-1310. The arches are similar to their northern counterparts but the pier and responds are octagonal or semi-octagonal.

 

The nave roof has clearly been dramatically lowered at some stage in its history as a former and very much steeper gable line can be seen outside the building, fossilized in the E. wall of the tower.  That this was not the original roof either, however, is evident from the way that gable line bisects the bell-openings, and the only conclusion one can reach is that the roof was raised and then, at a later date, lowered again.  Furnishings in the church do not amount to much but the most noteworthy pieces are the communion table and altar rails, chiefly because they can be precisely dated to the year 1636, when a visiting commission ordered that they should be remade.  There are several eighteenth and nineteenth monuments on the chancel N. wall, but none of worth particularising.