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English Church Architecture -



QUIDENHAM, St. Andrew (TM 029 877)     (June 2009)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


Here is another church within a few miles of Diss, distinguished by another round tower with an octagonal belfry, about which both the church guide and The Buildings of England are typically misleading. (See the photograph left, taken from the southeast, and the thumbnail below right, taken from the south.) Of the round lower stage, Pevsner and/or Bill Wilson wrote in the latter (Northwest and South Norfolk volume, Yale University Press, 1999), "Is this... Anglo-Saxon, or early C12?  It could be either."  Yet Stephen Hart, writing in The Round Church Towers of England (Lucas Books, 2003), proved immediately otherwise by observing that "coursed flints in the nave west wall [and the courses are sharply defined] match exactly and align with those in the fillet and tower wall", thus showing the tower and the nave to be part of the same build and so dateable by the nave's Norman N. doorway.  In addition, the tower cuts into the nave and, besides, the age of the tower is surely evident anyway from the tall round arch to the nave, which is supported only on abaci with chamfered under-edges, with no responds to the jambs below.  The octagonal bell-stage appears to be early Perpendicular judging from the bell-openings in its cardinal faces and its mock flushwork bell-openings in the ordinal directions, all of which have the straightened reticulation units typical of the late fourteenth century. (See Appendix 2 for some close-dated examples of this tracery shape in East Anglia.)   Thus, since there is no evidence of blocked bell-openings in the round part of the tower below (the blocked round windows are much too low ever to have served this purpose), it seems reasonable to assume this bell-stage must replace an earlier one.  The surmounting shingled spire apparently replaced a former, taller one in 1867. although it was reconstructed again as recently as 1930.


The rest of the church consists of a chancel with a cross-gabled organ chamber to the north, and a nave with a S. aisle and porch.  The most important feature in the nave is the Norman N. doorway (shown left), formed of two orders, of which the inner is unmoulded and supported on abaci with chamfered under-edges, and the outer carries two rolls separated by a hollow, supported on shafts with leaf volute capitals. This is twelfth century work but it is difficult to be more precise.  The windows are predominantly Victorian but the aisle W. window (shown  right) seems largely old, with its cusped triangle above two-centred cinquefoil-cusped lights, possibly suggesting early Decorated times, before the widespread adoption of the ogee around 1315.  In fact, there is a tradition that the S. aisle was once part of Buckenham Priory, three miles to the northeast, which was subsequently dismantled and brought here for reassembly after the Dissolution, so accounting for the flushwork on the buttresses, which seems otherwise out of place. The porch is now mostly Victorian also, but the outer doorway appears to be re-used Decorated work, with its hollow-chamfered outer order and an inner order with wave mouldings.  The inner doorway could be older than this as the arch here carries a series of mouldings that include a roll more typical of the late thirteenth century. The S. arcade (shown left, from the west) consists of four bays formed of double-hollow-chamfered arches springing from piers of quatrefoil section with additional little quadrant mouldings in the diagonals.  This is an early fourteenth century form but it is difficult to know to what extent this work can be trusted since the piers, at least, appear renewed, although the responds at the ends might be original.  These differ from the piers in each being formed of a single semicircular shaft, which supports the inner hollow chamfer but allows the outer hollow chamfer to continue down the jambs.  The chancel arch looks entirely renewed but the arch between the chancel and organ chamber has responds that appear mediaeval.  The chancel itself has a triple sedilia with bays of equal height, recessed in the S. wall, and a piscina to the east of that.  The E. window has a niche either side, which are certainly old, as are the keeled shafts that support a roll above.  Four short shafts with volute capitals, re-set in the chancel N. wall, are reputed to have come from the base of a Norman font.         


Finally, the building contains two large seventeenth century monuments on the chancel N. wall, dedicated to Lady Anthea Sandys (d. 1679), and Lord Sandys (d. 1700), which appear to be unsigned.  The former is supported on consoles and has a pair of black marble Corinthian columns at the sides, supporting a scrolled open pediment above.  The latter has barley sugar columns.