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English Church Architecture -

Rutland (U.A.).


MARKET OVERTON, St. Peter & St. Paul (SK 866 164)     (June 2008)

(Bedrock:  Middle Jurassic, Northampton Sand Formation)


Except in one particular, this is one of Rutland’s less interesting churches for although the building (shown left, from the southeast) is almost entirely early fourteenth century in style, it is rather less so in date, having been restored or renewed in the majority of its parts.  That exception is the Saxon tower arch (illustrated below right), whose vintage is shown by its round unmoulded form and the massive imposts on which it rests, which are slightly bevelled towards the ground in a manner reminiscent of the famously megalithic chancel arch at Wittering in neighbouring Peterborough.  The present arch is almost slender by comparison with that, however, being about two feet eight inches thick (80 cms.).


The rest of the building consists, besides the tower, of an aisled nave with a S. porch and S. transept, and a chancel with a Victorian organ chamber and adjoining vestry to the north. The chancel is two-bays long and the transept, two bays deep, with restored and renewed Decorated windows employing a hotchpotch of mostly simple designs, including cusped intersecting tracery and uncusped reticulated.  The porch fills the entire re-entrant between the transept W. wall and the S. wall of the aisle, which is a measure of the width of the transept relative to the shortness of the nave.  Thus the aisle has no S. windows lighting it directly, and since it has no W. window either, this is partly responsible for the church’s poorly-lit interior, evident even on a day in June.  The nave does have a modest clerestory though, composed of mostly two-light windows with tracery formed of mouchettes and daggers, albeit that in the eastern end of the S. wall there is a square-headed Tudor window formed of three characteristic round-headed uncusped lights.  The N. aisle is lit by a renewed two-light W. window with reticulated tracery and a single three-light, square-headed N. window, with ogee-pointed lights and quatrefoils above.   The N. doorway is composed of two flat-chamfered orders and the S. porch outer doorway, of a single hollow-chamfered order supported on semicircular shafts.  The  tower, which is itself now also essentially Decorated, is constructed of Jurassic limestone and an orange sandstone that is almost certainly from the Northampton Sand formation at the base of the Middle Jurassic Series.  It rises in three unbuttressed stages (or four counting the basal stage) to battlements, with a W. window and bell-openings with renewed reticulated tracery.


The porch inner doorway (that is, the doorway leading into the nave, for there is also a door leading east, directly into the transept) carries a roll with a fillet around its steeply-pointed arch, which becomes a narrow column of similar section at the sides.  The three-bay nave arcades (see the S. arcade, left), which take no account whatever of the transept, are formed of double-flat-chamfered arches springing from octagonal piers with prominent capitals of distinctive early fourteenth century profile.  The taller chancel arch comprises one hollow-chamfered order, and a two-light window with uncusped reticulated tracery now looks through from the N. aisle into the organ chamber.


Finally, on furnishings in the church, just the briefest note will suffice for only the font requires particularizing.  This, nevertheless, is a curious piece, consisting of a square bowl on a wide circular base, which was explained by Pevsner as consisting of a re-used and hollowed out Norman capital placed on an upturned Early English one.