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English Church Architecture -



TIVETSHALL ST. MARY, St. Mary (TM 166 858)       (May 2009)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

This church is just a ruin now (shown above, from the south) and almost all that can be discerned from it is its original plan and the style of the chancel, which is that of the late thirteenth century, as witnessed by its two Y-traceried windows on each side to the north and south (see one of the north windows, illustrated below left) and its four-light E. window with cinquefoil-cusped intersecting tracery commensurate with c. 1300 (shown in the view into the former chancel, below right).  The chancel was long relative to the building as a whole and appears to have been taller, to judge by the surviving masonry.  There was a priest's doorway in the S. wall and one wider window towards the east, now without tracery, that may have been a fourteenth or fifteenth century insertion  The remains of a piscina, recessed in the wall, can be seen beyond this.


As for the rest of the church, this consisted of a W. tower and a nave with a S. porch, of which the former is now just an overgrown stump, although it is still possible to enter the nave and to do so through the remains of the porch, which is clearly only possible as some public spirited man or woman is holding back the tide of vegetation.  The nave windows have all lost their tracery and the nave walls have been completely broken down in places, making an attempt at dating here very difficult, but the surviving N. doorway has a hollow chamfer around its external face, which may indicate the early fourteenth century.  The S. porch retains a part of its brick arches around its inner and outer doorways, and it is possible these are Tudor.   The church was constructed of the usual local mix of flint and other fieldstones with narrow limestone dressings, and it appears it may have been part-rendered.  In total, for all its dilapidation, it is an attractive and evocative ruin when the sun shines through the trees and reflects off the stonework, and it is a pity that it cannot be maintained as well as the derelict church of St. John the Baptist, Stanton, in neighbouring Suffolk, which is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.