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English Church Architecture.
St. Philip St. James
(NU 202 202),
Carboniferous Dinantian Subsystem, Alston Group.)
The remains of
a small but once excellent Norman church
savage Victorian restoration.
This was a small, entirely Norman church
until the Victorians got their hands on it in the mid-nineteenth
century. The first of the vandals was probably Anthony Salvin
(1799-1881) (Nikolaus Pevsner et al, The Buildings of England:
Northumberland, New Haven & London, Yale University Press, 2002,
p. 551), who replaced the original, probably square, E.
end of the church with an apse,
inserted a window in the nave W. gable, and placed a bellcote above, all
in neo-Norman style, though whether he was also responsible for the
groups of lancets inserted in the north and south walls is doubtful for
why would he have introduced the Early English style there while he was
attempting to replicate the Norman style elsewhere? What is known
for sure is that only eleven years after Salvin had completed this work,
F. R. Wilson (1827-94) added an independently-gabled N aisle, also in
neo-Norman style and almost equal in size to the nave it adjoined.
According to Pevsner, Wilson's concession to the historical importance
of the building as he found it, involved the carefully recorded taking
down of the nave N. wall and its subsequent reconstruction, stone by stone,
Victorian lancets and all, to form the N. wall of the new aisle (as shown below).
Two significant twelfth century features are contained within it: a
small round-headed Norman window a little east of centre,
and a portion of the corbel table above. Norman features still to be seen around the
exterior of the nave and chancel where they have not been disturbed include the similar window and corbel table in and above the nave
S. wall (shown
at the foot of the page, on the left),
the Norman window in the N. wall of the chancel (west of the Victorian
vestry), the tall nook shafts with scalloped capitals at the nave
southeast and southwest angles, and most especially, the nave W doorway
with chevron round the arch and very worn hood-mould, and an order of
shafts with scalloped capitals (illustrated at the foot of the page, on the
right). A corbel table to either side, above, is decorated with grotesques.
However, the most important piece of Norman
work at Rock is to be found within and comprises the wide, impressive
chancel arch, composed of two orders (as illustrated below left).
They are decorated by two rolls separated by a small spur under the soffit
of the inner order, and to the
west, by two lines of horizontal chevron on the outer order and two
lines of little rectangles containing what look as if they might have
been intended to be saltires but which contain only one diagonal line,
on the hood-mould. The two orders of shafts attached to the
responds have scalloped capitals above astragals and two zigzags on the
photograph, below right, shows the S. respond.)
The original Norman masonry in roughly squared local stone, contrasts
sharply with the urbane limestone ashlar used for the nineteenth century
parts of the building, and the junction between the two is nowhere more
acute than at the junction between the mediaeval chancel and Salvin's
Neither Salvin's nor Wilson's work justifies
detailed description but, in brief, Wilson's three-bay aisle arcade is
formed of double-flat-chamfered arches supported on circular piers and
semicircular responds with large scalloped capitals, and the rather
elaborate E. and W. windows to the aisle, although they differ in detail,
each have two round-headed lights set in a round-headed encompassing
arch with two orders of side-shafts with scalloped capitals.