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English Church Architecture -



DICKLEBURGH, All Saints (TM 168 824)     (May 2009)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

This is a church of predominantly grey stone (knapped flint and other fieldstones beneath slate roofs), externally much restored, consisting of a chancel with a small lean-to N. vestry, an aisled nave with a S. porch, and a W. tower.   (See the photograph above, taken from the northeast.)  The tower is unbuttressed and rises in two short stages to a bell-stage with Y-traceried bell-openings in the W. wall, suggesting a late thirteenth century origin, although the supermullioned bell-openings to north and south, and the untraceried W. window with double-cusped lights between strong mullions, are clearly later insertions.  A stair turret in Tudor brick has also been added at the eastern end of the N. wall.  The chancel, aisles and nave clerestory all have renewed segmental-pointed windows of Perpendicular form, with supermullioned drop tracery above stepped lights topped by castellated supertransoms in the aisles, and simple panelled tracery with stepped lights, also topped by castellated supertransoms, in the clerestory.  There are two clerestory windows per bay, positioned above the arcade spandrels, and the nave is surmounted by battlements which are crow-stepped above the chancel to the east.  The chancel windows have equal lights and the E. window is four-light and obviously Victorian but on either side of it there is a tall mediaeval, trefoil-cusped ogee niche with a pedestal for a statue.  However, the S. porch (left) is the best work to be seen outside the building, being faced to the south in four tiers of flushwork arches, with more inside the merlons of the battlements. There are ogee-pointed crocketed niches beside the spandrels of the outer doorway, set between buttresses that terminate in crocketed pinnacles, and another - canopied - niche with buttresses at the sides, rests on the apex.  The outer doorway is formed of two orders, the inner of which bears two wave mouldings springing from semicircular shafts with capitals, while the outer carries a casement moulding all the way around, decorated with carved fleurons at intervals, one of which is replaced by a face.  The inner doorway carries a series of continuous waves and has carved rosettes in the spandrels, which are heavily worn.


Inside the church, the tower arch consists of three flat-chamfered orders, with the inner springing from semi-octagonal responds. However, the four-bay nave arcades are by far the most significant work here, being composed of arches of two orders, each bearing a flat chamfer divided into two bands by a groove down the centre, supported on piers composed of four major shafts and four narrow diagonal spurs, all with fillets, with capitals that go all the way round.  (See the N. arcade, right, viewed from the west.) They were described as "Dec." by Pevsner and Bill Wilson, in the Northwest and South Norfolk volume of The Buildings of England (second edition, pub. Penguin, 1999) but are almost certainly Perpendicular, as demonstrated in Suffolk by the late Birkin Haward, who showed that this form of pier is most closely associated in that county with the first half of the fifteenth century and with master mason Hawes of Occold (fl. 1410-40) especially (Mediaeval Church Arcades, pub. the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History", 1993). (Cf., for example, the arcades at St. Mary Magdalene's, Bildeston and St. Mary's, Debenham.)  The entrance to the former rood stair opens in the short stretch of wall between the chancel arch and the N. arcade.


The chancel contains three large monuments on the N. wall, of which the easternmost (shown left) was listed by Gunnis (Dictionary of British Sculptors: 1660 - 1851, pub. The Abbey Library, 1951).  This commemorates Dame Frances Playters (d. 1659) and is the work of Edward Marshall (1598 -  1675), whose statuary was described by Gunnis as "of the first importance" and whose other monuments include one to William Harvey, the physician, in Hempstead church, Essex.  His monument in this church shows Dame Frances looking directly ahead, above an inordinately long inscription, framed by an elaborate architectural surround.  The two other monuments commemorate Henry Winchcote Turner who died at Sevastopol in 1855, and Colonel Charles Turner, who died in 1860, aged 78.  


Pre-Victorian woodwork is very limited in the church but includes the Jacobean pulpit (right), with the usual round-headed arches filling the lower tier of panels and the usual knobs in the centre both of these and the rectangular panels above.  However, rather older than this is the dado of the former rood screen, which is all of it that survives but which still includes two unusual, elaborately carved and painted panels each side of the central opening, featuring quatrefoils in circles, decorated with birds, beasts and grotesques.  It seems impossible to date this closely but the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries will presumably cover it.  (The thumbnail, below right, shows the panel immediately north of the central passageway.)  The roofs throughout the building appear to be new except for the lean-to S. aisle roof, which is carved with the name "R. Harvey". Finally, the font (illustrated left) is another of those in this area aligned east-northeast, east-southeast, south-southeast, etc., rather than in the cardinal and ordinal directions, and is notable for its crisp undamaged carving, which includes four wild men alternating with lions round the stem, and the emblems of the Evangelists alternating with angels holding shields on the eight faces of the bowl.