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English Church Architecture -

North Yorkshire.

 

MIDDLETON, St. Andrew (SE 762 855)     (May 2003)

(Bedrock:  Upper Jurassic, Upper Calcareous Grit Member)

This church is a little gem, although it hardly presents the appearance of anything special to anyone passing by on the A170.  (See the photograph above, taken from the direction of the road [= south].)  In fact there is significant work here from a range of periods, which can be summed up as a late Saxon W. tower, a Norman N. arcade, a Norman-Transitional S. arcade, aisle windows of c. 1300, a Georgian S. porch and a Victorian chancel. The church also contains some interesting sculpture and furniture, notably fragments of five Anglo-Danish crosses. These aspects of the building must be considered in turn.

 

First the W. tower, which is Saxon up to the bell-stage. The quoins at the corners show long-and-short work, and the blocked W. doorway (shown left) is typically unstructural, with imposts that do nothing. Unfortunately, it is marred by an oval window inserted in its head, but a cross set in the masonry above is also interesting and very similar to one in the same position at All Saints, Hovingham, which has been tentatively dated to c. 680 by its similarity to St. Cuthbert’s (d. 687) pectoral cross. This is rather tenuous evidence admittedly in something so small and only moderately well preserved, and the church guide suggests it is eighth century work, but in either case it predates the tower by several centuries.  The bell-stage is a thirteenth century addition, witnessed by the single lancet opening to the north and the pair each to the south and west, where they are separated by colonnettes and set in wider arches with colonnettes at the sides. A corbel table above, supports battlements that must be later.

 

The Norman style at Middleton is represented by the solid, functional N. arcade (illustrated right), composed of three round arches of one unmoulded order, supported on circular piers with square scalloped capitals.  Opposite, the Norman-Transitional S. arcade (below left), also of three bays, makes an attempt at slightly greater sophistication. Here the arches are formed of two flat-chamfered orders and the capitals - except for one which is plain - display varieties of waterleaf, with that to the easternmost respond arriving almost at stiff leaf.

 

Both these arcades were probably cut through the walls of the original Saxon church, and the masonry above is probably still largely original.  The nave clerestory, consisting of three pairs of small two-light uncusped windows, was inserted in the fifteenth century according to the church guide, but on purely stylistic evidence, the sixteenth century would fit better. The aisles were rebuilt around 1300 and the surviving two-light N. windows with cusped Y-tracery are characteristic of this time.  The S. aisle windows have been renewed or replaced in a more fully developed Decorated style but the N. and S. doorways both fit the somewhat earlier date.  They have the unusual feature (for doorways) of trefoil-cusped arches.

 

The chancel is a reconstruction of 1886 by Charles Hodgson Fowler (1840-1910), a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott.  There is no evidence to show whether any of his curvilinear-traceried windows imitate earlier forms here. Probably they were simply a reflection of the nineteenth century vogue for Second Pointed work that had still not completely run its course, for the only window that Fowler did retain (in the N. wall) is a lancet (now blocked).

 

The S. porch (right) is Georgian and interesting if for no other reason than the comparative rarity of ecclesiastical work of this period.  It is dated 1782 by the inscription on the sundial above the outer, round-arched doorway.

 

The church contains parts of five Anglo-Danish crosses (one of which is shown left), all thought to derive from the late ninth and early tenth centuries, of which two were extricated from the building’s masonry during the first half of the twentieth century. They are carved with warriors, a hound, a stag, and animals in the "Jellinge" style, which was named after carvings on a cross at Jelling, Denmark.  Such animals are serpent-like and delineated by a double line round the edge, with heads and tails that split into ribbon-like bands that wind about the animals.

 

Finally, three items of woodwork must be mentioned, most especially the S. door (inside the porch), which is made of four and a half planks covered at the joins by battens and carved with blank arcading.  Ascribed to the fifteenth century by the church guide, it could, perhaps, even be contemporary with the doorway in which it hangs (i.e. c. 1300).  The chancel contains two stalls on either side (at its western end), dating from the fifteenth century, one of which retains its misericord. The pulpit is early eighteenth century work and John Wesley reputedly preached from it when he visited the church on July 16th, 1776.