English Church Architecture -
BAINTON, St. Mary (TF 094 061) (June 2010)
(Bedrock: Upper Jurassic, Kellaways Clay Member)
This can be a somewhat confusing building to interpret until one notices the ballflower frieze immediately beneath the spire, showing the tower to be early to mid fourteenth century in date, notwithstanding the large Y-traceried bell-openings which considered alone would suggest the thirteenth. Following this discovery, the best place to begin an examination of the church is probably inside, where the arcade to the N. aisle comprises three bays plus one. The three eastern bays are late Norman-Transitional work (c. 1210), with arches that are still round, bearing two wide flat chamfers above circular piers with circular capitals and abaci. (See the photograph below left, taken from the chancel, and the close-up of the second pier from the east, below right, taken from the nave.) To the west, these are separated by a short wall piece from a fourth arch which is similar but pointed. This probably represents the lengthening of the nave around the time the tower was added (or, indeed, a few years later, once the heavier tower had been given time to settle on its foundations). The tower is supported by angle buttresses and rises in three stages, the first of which reaches to the top of the nave and is lit to the west by a tall, trefoil-cusped window with a "pointed quatrefoil" above. The second stage is shorter and lit by a rectangular slit opening on each side and the bell-stage has the large bell-openings described above (and seen in the photograph of the church above, taken from the southeast). It is topped by a short broach spire, lit in the cardinal directions by two tiers of lucarnes, respectively of two lights and one, both beneath gables. The weathering line of a much larger gable on the E. wall of the tower, shows the nave was once quite steeply pitched. The same phase of construction appears to have included the windowless S. porch, which is the only part of the church bearing battlements. The wide outer doorway, which has spread, carries two hollow chamfers above semicircular responds.
The S. wall of the nave is lit by a two-light, Y-traceried window each side of the porch, with two small mouchettes and a little dagger in the head of each light, and larger daggers in the "Y"s. (See the photograph below left, showing the window to the east.) This is also Decorated. The three remaining windows on this side of the building are three-light and Perpendicular, and consist in turn of an untraceried one with wide cinquefoil-cusped lights and strong mullions beneath a four-centred arch, a somewhat similar window with narrower lights, a segmental-pointed arch and a lower sill (to act as a lowside window?), and a curious window (shown below centre) with rather incompetent cinquefoil-cusped intersecting tracery beneath a four-centre arch with straightened upper segments, which nevertheless turns out to be the best window inside, where it is decorated with an order of castellated bowtells (see the photograph below right) to a rere-arch which continues to the floor, creating a space for the three wooden seats forming the sedilia. It seems likely that these windows are of slightly differing dates, yet any one of them could be contemporary with the chancel as a whole, which is probably fifteenth century. The chancel arch (seen in the photograph at the foot of the page on the right) bears a series of waves and hollows, arranged in two orders above a pair of semicircular shafts with restored castellated capitals. The chancel E. window is three-light with cinquefoil-cusped intersecting tracery beneath a four-centred arch. To the north, the aisle extends the entire length of the chancel, where it forms a one-bay chapel, followed eastwards by a vestry. These are both mediaeval and probably Decorated once again. The chapel opens through an arch to the aisle and through another to the chancel, of which the former is double-hollow-chamfered and supported on a semi-quatrefoil respond with keeled shafts to the north (see the photograph at the foot of the page on the left) and a corbel to the south, and the latter (which may be a little later) bears two sunk quadrant mouldings supported on semicircular responds with octagonal abaci. The vestry opens to the sanctuary through a small pointed doorway. The restored two-light E. window to the vestry, with round lights and reticulated tracery, copies the W. window to the aisle, which seems to be original. The only N. window to the building, which lights the aisle to the east of the N. doorway, has three ogee lights, cusped above and below, set within a square frame beneath a label with label stops.
Finally, there is little to add on church furnishings at Bainton but the two large, re-set, late thirteenth century gabled piscinas in the E. walls of the chancel and chapel, should certainly be noticed, and monuments include one on the chapel E. wall, commemorating Mary Robert Henson (d. 1805). It was partially obscured by a large crib on this visit but is signed, according to Pevsner, by Sir Richard Westmacott (1775 - 1856), son of Richard Westmacott the Elder and father of Richard Westmacott the Younger and by far the most prolific of the three men. The monument features "a seated mourning young Grecian" (Pevsner). It was not listed by Gunnis.