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English Church Architecture.


LONG SUTTON, Holy Trinity  (ST 469 253),


(Bedrock:  Lower Jurassic, Blue Lias Formation.)


An impressive Perpendicular church, dated 1493, with some interesting features.

This is a building reputedly constructed in a single campaign, the completion of which appears to be dated by a licence given by Bishop Fox in 1493 to 'consecrate and bless the Parish Church of Long Sutton lately rebuilt and made new'.  Today, the appearance of some of the building’s features suggests there have been subsequent alterations, but the tower appears to be entirely original and is notable for the colour combination of its materials:  steely-blue lias from the outcrop on which the building sits, contrasted with narrow dressings of Ham Hill stone, brought here from the quarry just five miles to the south.  The structure is supported by angle buttresses that terminate at the foot of the bell-stage in pairs of short pinnacles which clasp in turn diagonally-set shafts ascending to tall crocketed pinnacles above the battlements. The bell-stage is distinguished by three, two-light bell-openings on each side, of which the outer pair are blank and separated from the central opening by triangular shafts that rise to subsidiary pinnacles at the ⅓ or ⅔ position along the tower walls.  The alternate-traceried blank windows in the stage below (i.e. the third stage) have niches for statues on either side, and the five-light W. window in the first stage (shown below left) has alternate tracery without subreticulation but with a latticed transom halfway up.   (See the glossary for a definition of these terms.)  The W. doorway has continuous mouldings and traceried spandrels beneath a label, and again, there are niches - now small and worn - on either side.  A stair turret projects at the southeast angle and rises higher than the tower itself.


The rest of the church is entirely embattled and composed of a four-bay aisled nave with N. & S. porches, and a three-bay chancel with a one-bay chapel on either side, which are continuations of the aisles.  The S. chapel is marked off from the aisle by a large, projecting rood stair turret.


The S. aisle windows are a surprising assortment.  One has three-lights, alternate tracery with two tiers of subreticulation units and no ogees, while another is similar but has the more usual form of subreticulation, and a third (shown below right) has four ogee-arched lights with alternate tracery, 'normal' subreticulation, subarcuation of the lights in pairs, and through-reticulation.  The window in the S. wall of the S. chapel is similar to this last except that the lights are narrower, but the chancel beyond has two three-light S. windows (one of which is shown in the second photograph below on the left) like the first in the nave aisle.  The chancel E. window is three-light and transomed, with ogee lights, alternate tracery and subreticulation, and the N. windows to the N. chapel and aisle are the same as their southern counterparts except in one repeated design.  If the church was entirely reconstructed in a single building phase, it is strange these windows should be such a mixture.




Inside the building, the masonry around and above the arcades certainly does not look wholly mediaeval.  The arcades are composed of arches bearing two wave mouldings and a hollow, springing from piers formed of the usual (for this area) four wide shafts separated by hollows.  The tower arch is panelled around the soffits with a two-bay-wide band of blank arches, rising in tiers, of which more adorn the arches between the aisles and the chapels, and between the chapels and the chancel. Other examples of this feature may be seen in the churches of St. Mary’s, Chard, St. George’s, Hinton St. George, All Saints’, Martock, St. Peter & St. Paul’s, Muchelney and St. Mary’s, Norton-sub-Hamdon, where the similarities are so close, it seems certain the same school of artisans was involved in many of them.  The chancel arch has one order of shafts attached to the responds and a few, very shallow hollows round the arch itself, but this work is much hidden by the fifteenth century rood screen that extends across the nave in three bays.  Two parclose screens of just two bays each but otherwise identical pattern, reach across the aisles.  All three were gaudily repainted in 1866, albeit very possibly in a manner that reflects their original appearance.



However, the pulpit (shown above right) is more striking than these.  Bearing the initials 'JP' and 'WS', thought to be those of John Petherton, Abbot of Athelney from 1424-58, and William Singleton, vicar from 1455-62, it is thus believed to date from 1455-58, which are the years when their periods of office overlapped.  This is a magnificent piece of woodwork, which is again colourfully painted, but which also boasts the very finest of detail, both in paintwork and carving.  The figures of the twelve apostles are modern (1910) but they occupy the most elaborate of crocketed niches and the work as a whole displays an assured mastery.