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English Church Architecture -



BARNARDISTON, All Saints (TL 702 487)     (October 2001)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


This church consists of a W tower, a nave with a N. porch, and a chancel, and is a rather humble building constructed chiefly of flint, septaria and pebble rubble, with limestone dressings and what appears to be some re-used Roman tile in the walls of the chancel.  The most important feature externally is the porch, which has a stoup in the W. wall with traceried spandrels, a high outer arch supported on two orders of shafts, and an inner doorway (shown left) with a complex Perpendicular profile, two orders of bowtells, and above, a castellated square surround.  This displays blank quatrefoils bearing shields and two orders of crocketed pinnacles in the spandrels and at the sides.  The rest of the building is very plain by comparison.  The tower is diagonally buttressed and has two-light bell-openings with the straightened reticulation units in the heads generally indicative in this region of the second of the fourteenth century.  (See Appendix 2 for some close dated examples of the use of this tracery shape in East Anglia.) Elsewhere, windows are mostly renewed and supermullioned.  To the north, a large rectangular projection between the nave and the chancel must once have housed the rood stair.


The church interior is notable only for its woodwork.  The rood screen (illustrated below left, viewed from the east), composed of five divisions each with a double-cusped ogee arch and alternate tracery, probably dates from the fifteenth century, but its tiny fan-vaulted loft (as seen from the west) can be seen to be a recent addition. Above, the mutilated capitals of the chancel arch show the position of its predecessor, which was presumably much heavier and  -  to judge from the presence of a projection for a stair - able to support people. Immediately southwest, the narrow octagonal pulpit is Jacobean and has the usual blank, round-headed arches carved on the panels.  This must be approximately contemporary with the stall on the N. side of the chancel (shown below right), although not with the altar rail with its turned balusters (shown at the foot of the page) which appears to be somewhat later.  Finally the nave roof has been renewed but its mansard shape - whether it retains the original form or not - is distinctly unusual.