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English Church Architecture -

North Yorkshire.


FORCETT, St. Cuthbert (NZ 176 123)     (November 2017)

(Bedrock:  Carboniferous Namurian Series, Stainmore Formation)


This church (shown above from the southeast) is significant chiefly for its Victorian woodwork.  Formed simply of a chancel with a N. vestry, a nave with N. aisle and S. porch, and a W. tower, it was largely rebuilt in 1857/8 according to the designs of John A. Cory of Carlisle, after initial plans by Mallinson and Healey of Halifax and Bradford had been passed over, probably on grounds of expense.  The unbuttressed W. tower rising in three stages to battlements is still essentially thirteenth century in date, even though its features all seem to have been renewed.   A stair turret at the northeast angle rises up to the bell-stage.  The inner and outer porch doorways are Norman, although the latter has been reset, having presumably been removed from the nave N. wall prior to the construction of the aisle.  The four-light E. window to the chancel has reticulated tracery of early fourteenth century appearance but there is nothing else to suggest such a date, and all other windows are Victorian and of one or two lights only.


Inside the church, the four-bay N. arcade is formed of double-flat-chamfered arches supported on circular piers, and the tower and chancel arches have an inner chamfer supported on corbels or semicircular shafts respectively, and an outer chamfer that is continuous down the jambs.  This is all perfectly commonplace but the carpentry is altogether grander scale and comprises panelling around the sanctuary walls, elaborate choir stalls (two on each side, plus the backs against the wall), the altar rail, a fine octagonal pulpit on a stem to the right of the chancel arch (illustrated above right), and a large, square and intricately carved reader’s desk to the left (seen above left).  Faculties exist for most of these items, dated 1857 and 1868, held in the North Yorkshire Record Office at Northallerton.  The altar rail (below) is constructed entirely of wood and has tracery patterns in circles in the panels beneath.  The attractive chancel roof is supported by arched braces, tied longitudinally by purlins ¼,  ½ and  ¾ of the way up the pitch, and panelled in a variety of designs on both sides.  Finally, the cleverly-conceived geometrical font of very modern appearance has a plain square bowl supported on a geometrically elaborate base, with shafts in the cardinal directions and dog-tooth running down the square angles in the ordinal directions.