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English Church Architecture -

Rutland (U.A.).


BROOKE, St. Peter (SK 850 057)     (June 2008)

(Bedrock:  Lower Jurassic, Whitby Mudstone Formation)


Approached along the lane from the west, this church (shown above, from the  southeast) appears to skulk in a hollow, an impression reinforced by its low unbuttressed W. tower, although the steeply-pitched independently-gabled N. aisle is also evident, pointing upwards just behind, to the left.  The building consists, besides the tower, of a wide nave and chancel attached to an equally wide N. aisle and chapel, with the addition of a small S. porch.  (Pace Pevsner, there is no S. aisle.)  It comprises work of three main periods, namely Norman, Early English and late Tudor (i.e. Elizabethan - Pevsner said “of c. 1579” but failed to give a reason for such precision).  The last is the most important here: the Norman work has been heavily restored and it is difficult to know how much of this to trust.


It includes, in the first place, the S. doorway (illustrated left) inside the porch, albeit that this has been reconstructed subsequently to give it its present pointed form.  The chevron is unmistakable, however, and it also displays two orders of circular shafts beneath a roll moulding and a hood-mould decorated alternately with nailhead and “V”s.   The three-bay N. arcade between the nave and aisle is formed of round arches composed of a single flat-chamfered order, supported on circular piers with volute capitals.  The latter, however, have surely been re-cut or, at the least, tidied up, for they do not look very mediaeval now.


The thirteenth century is responsible for the tower which, short though it is, rises in three stages marked only by recesses, although the walls above each taper curiously outwards to regain approximately the same section before the next recess is reached.  The bell-openings are formed of a pair of lancet lights on each side, separated by colonnettes and set inside encompassing arches with exceptionally narrow side shafts. The battlements are a later addition to the Early English corbel table below.  The tower arch to the nave is triple-flat-chamfered with two orders of side shafts that are either renewed or so heavily scraped as to make it is impossible to say whether they represent an original feature or not.  Mediaeval work of later date in the building includes the late two-light Perpendicular S. window to the nave, to the west of the porch.  The porch has a single-chamfered outer arch above projecting imposts and no windows at the sides.


The Elizabethan work comprises the N. aisle, N. chapel and chancel.  The windows in these parts of the building and in the eastern end of the nave S. wall, are square-headed with lights that are round-arched and uncusped.  There are no windows in the chapel N. wall.  The chancel arch, the arch from the aisle to the chapel, and the two-bay arcade between the chancel and chapel, are round-arched, and the arcade has a square central pier with chamfers down the angles and little broaches above.  The arches themselves are marked only by a series of shallow recesses on the extradoses.


The chapel contains just one significant monument (above right), commemorating Charles Noel (d. 1618) and featuring a recumbent effigy lying on a tomb-chest of coloured marbles, between black Tuscan columns supporting an entablature with obelisks and an achievement above.  The inscription is in Latin.


Much more important, however, is the church’s Elizabethan woodwork, which includes the screen across the chapel and chancel, composed of two tiers of panelling and an upper, open section with widely-spaced balusters.  Behind, in the chancel, are two contemporary high-backed pews and a tiny vestry (left) formed of sections of an erstwhile screen.  Northwest of the chancel arch, the pulpit  of similar date has three tiers of panelling, a cornice supported on consoles, and a tester with ball pendants.