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English Church Architecture -



KENNINGHALL, St. Mary (TM 042 860)     (February 2015 [sic])

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

This church (shown above from the south) consists of a W. tower, a nave with a S. porch and N. aisle, and a chancel, and is Norman in its earliest feature, which is the sturdy S. doorway inside the porch.  (See the photograph below left.) It comprises an arch of two orders, of which the outer order carries a roll and springs from a pair of circular shafts with fluted capitals and abaci decorated with saltires, and the inner order is carved with two rows of saltires on the extrados and rests on abaci decorated with more.  However, probably more interesting are the carvings in shallow relief on either side of the doorway, depicting a horse, half way up on the left (illustrated below right), and what is possibly a dragon, lower down on the right.  They are clearly extempore additions and impossible to date with confidence.  
















The chancel appears to be the work of c.1300 for its (admittedly restored) cusped Y-traceried windows north and south are characteristic of this time, as is the three-light E. window with cusped intersecting tracery;  the westernmost  S. window continues as a lowside window beneath a transom.  Inside the church, the chancel arch (shown below left) and the four-bay aisle arcade with its additional (fifth) arch to the east, separated by a narrow wall piece (illustrated in the second photograph below right, viewed from the southwest), are contemporary or a little later (perhaps, around 1320):  all the arches are double-hollow chamfered but while the chancel arch springs simply from semi-octagonal responds, the arcade piers are alternately octagonal in section and quatrefoil with narrow additional foils running down the diagonals.  Indeed, the easternmost arch to the aisle could possibly be a few years later than the others, and from its position, leads to the assumption that it was once the arch to a transept.  However, more than this, immediately opposite the junction between this arch and the rest of the arcade, there is a cinquefoil-cusped piscina cut in the nave S. wall (shown right), indicating the position of a former side altar, while beyond to the east, there is a change in the nave fenestration (as seen in the photograph at the top of the page), and immediately above, a division in the roof timbers shows a structural break here also.  (Indeed, the roof is new now westward of this line while it retains its mediaeval timbers to the east.)  Thus originally the church may have been pseudo-cruciform in plan (see Appendix 3) before being reconstructed in its present form when some of the present aisle and nave windows were inserted. Except in the clerestory to the north, these are all now Perpendicular and comprise, to the south, two three-light windows east of the porch, with supermullioned tracery, two-centred lights, strong mullions, and castellated supertransoms above the central lights, and a four-light segmental-arched window beyond, with supermullioned tracery, ogee lights, strong mullions and split "Y"s.  The clerestory is composed of quatrefoils in circles to the north, which are probably contemporary with the arcade, and two-light, trefoil-cusped windows to the south, which are Perpendicular to judge by their depressed arches.  Another two-light S. window, of similar size, is curiously set, lower down, immediately above the porch to the west.  The N. aisle, which extends for an additional bay beside the chancel, is lit by four, three-light N. windows, with what may best be described as depressed intersecting tracery, cut through by strong mullions.  The little doorway in the easternmost bay, with a depressed arch carved above with the initials "W. B.", is also Perpendicular, but the larger N. doorway further west, carrying two unequal hollow chamfers, seems, again, contemporary with the arcade.    


















The W. tower rises in three stages to shallow, integral battlements, supported by diagonal buttresses, and is dated by bequests for its construction to the years 1485-93 (Pevsner).  It is faced with stone and knapped flint and has rather diminutive bell-openings with depressed cusped Y-tracery.  A projection to the northwest houses the stair turret.  However, the only really notable feature of the tower is its carved basal frieze, running along the west and south walls only, displaying a number of characteristic devices, including (on the S. wall) the wheel of St. Catherine (shown in the centre, below left), the Sacred Monogram "IHS" and a crowned "M" for St. Mary (shown respectively, below right).  Inside the church once more, the tall tower arch is composed of three slightly hollow-chamfered orders, of which the innermost springs from semicircular responds with octagonal capitals.








Finally, the church is not rich in furnishings but one monument on the chancel N. wall might possibly be mentioned, if only because it is listed by Gunnis (Dictionary of British Sculptors: 1660-1851, The Abbey Library, 1951).  (See the thumbnail, left.)  Commemorating William Killett (d. 1824), his son, the Rev. William Killett (d. 1846), and his daughter and daughter-in-law, both named Mary, it is signed by Benjamin de Carle of Norwich (1788 - 1864) and features a fluted column either side, supporting an entablature with a coat of arms on top.