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English Church Architecture.


KENNINGHALL, St. Mary  (TM 042 860),


(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk.)

A large church of rather curious appearance, with a number of interesting features.


This church 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, where 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, of rather greater interest are the carvings on either side, depicting a horse, half way up on the left (as illustrated below right), and what is probably meant to be a dragon, lower down on the right.  They are clearly extempore additions and impossible to date confidently.  
















The chancel appears to date from 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 (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, raises the possibility 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 further down), 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.  (The roof is new now westward of this line but retains its mediaeval timbers to the east.)  Thus originally the church may have been pseudo-cruciform in plan (i.e. it had transepts but no true crossing) before the S. transept was removed and the N. transept subsumed in the aisle. 



















Except in the clerestory to the north, the windows are now all 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 where the transept may once have been, with supermullioned tracery, ogee lights, strong mullions and split 'Y's.  The clerestory is composed of two-light, trefoil-cusped windows to the south, which are Perpendicular to judge by their depressed arches. and of quatrefoils in circles to the north, which are probably contemporary with the arcade.   The three-light N. aisle windows have 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, once 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 (Nikolaus Pevsner and Bill Wilson, The Buildings of England: Northwest & South Norfolk, New Haven & London, Yale University Press, 1999, p. 450).).  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 of the photograph, below left), the Sacred Monogram 'IHS', and a crowned 'M' for St. Mary (both of which are shown 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.