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English Church Architecture -



ROYDON, St. Remigius (TM 096 804)     (June 2009)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


This building (seen above from the northeast) has been so altered and restored that it is very difficult to tell which features are original.  This is unfortunate, for beneath the later changes, there are surely the remains of an ancient fabric here, as implied by the round W. tower and, internally, by the arches between the nave and S. aisle, cut through a wall of twelfth century thickness.  The tower has an octagonal upper stage considered to be Victorian by both Pevsner and Stephen Hart (in The Round Church Towers of England, Lucas Books, 2003), but whether its Perpendicular bell-openings are true to what was here before, seems impossible to say.  The two circular stages offer nothing upon casual inspection (the W. window is almost certainly a later insertion) although Hart considers they are probably post-Norman.


The  rest of the church consists of a chancel with a S. vestry, a nave with a S. aisle and N. porch, and a modern parish room and kitchen. The Perpendicular porch (shown left, from the north) is the most important of these parts considered architecturally, distinguished especially by an outer doorway with a niche above the apex, two more beside the spandrels, and a further pair in the jambs, where they are sandwiched between two pairs of shafts with castellated capitals.  (See the east jamb, illustrated below right.)  These shafts support a complex series of mouldings around the arch, including a casement moulding containing worn carvings at intervals.  The porch has three-light side windows with supermullioned tracery between strong mullions, a flushwork basal frieze (to the north only), more flushwork on the buttresses, and knapped flint in the gable.  


Windows in the nave and chancel have mostly renewed Perpendicular tracery in the nave and aisle and renewed Decorated tracery in the chancel, which may or may not imply an early fourteenth century origin for the latter.  The cross-gabled S. vestry is the re-sited Victorian porch, which was first built in 1840 to the designs of Lewis Vulliamy (1791 - 1871). The parish room and kitchen were added to the S. side of the nave in 2001 and are purely utilitarian. The nave has a S. clerestory, formed of seven two-light windows, the positions of which bear no relationship whatever to the arcade arches below.


Inside the church, the nave arcade is most notable (see the photograph left, taken from the west), although this is less an arcade than four individual arches cut through a pre-existing wall.  That is Norman, to judge by its thickness, but whether the present pointed arches with their narrow flat chamfers, represent Norman-Transitional work carried out at the beginning of the thirteenth century or merely restoration work of 1864, is by no means obvious.  The wall pieces are chamfered down the angles, from a point about six inches (15 cm.) below the abaci, and at the top of these chamfers there are leaf carvings in the two western arches, which look Victorian, and carved heads in the two eastern arches, which look mediaeval (see the three examples shown at the foot of the page), although that is of limited use for dating since they are almost certainly not in situ.  The chancel arch carries one flat and one hollow chamfer, above capitals encompassing both orders. 


Other features to the building include a niche for a statue in the nave S. wall to the east of the arcade, a lowered sill to the easternmost S, window to the chancel, intended to act as a sedilia (although it can do this no longer as heating pipes run across the front), and a piscina with a credence shelf beyond, more in Early English style than Decorated,  It appears that at one stage in the building's various restorations, the chancel floor was raised, for both the sedilia and piscina are now exceptionally low.  Finally, the church contains no reliably old woodwork: pace Pevsner, both the nave roof and the porch are largely or wholly Victorian