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English Church Architecture -



BARTON MILLS, St.Mary (TL 717 738)     (September 2005)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


Consisting of a W. tower, an aisled nave with S. porch, and a chancel with cross-gabled N. chapel, this church (shown left, from the southeast) derives chiefly from Decorated times, although the unbuttressed tower is earlier - the work of the thirteenth century, rising in two stages to battlements and renewed Y-traceried bell-openings, with a Y-traceried W. window and a simple W. doorway bearing a roll. Elsewhere, the rather idiosyncratic windows are composed of two, over-large lights and a form of reticulated or flowing tracery in the aisles and chancel S. wall, while the strange E. window to the chancel (shown right from an acute angle as there is little room to photograph it) consists of five trefoil-cusped ogee lights, with narrow reticulation units over lights 1/2 & 4/5, and two further reticulation units above lights 2/3 & 3/4, cut into by an octfoil in an oval.  The clerestory consists of three pairs of windows with renewed Y-tracery, positioned above the spandrels of the four-bay nave arcades.  The porch is Perpendicular and has little two-light, square-headed windows with supermullioned tracery, and an outer doorway carrying wave mouldings above semicircular shafts.


Inside the building, the nave arcades are formed of double-flat-chamfered arches springing from octagonal piers with prominent capitals that appear to confirm their early fourteenth (as opposed to thirteenth) century date.  Hood-moulds round the arches rise from very worn head label stops.  The chancel arch is similar (but taller and wider, of course) while the tower arch consists of two flat-chamfered orders that die into the jambs.  The N. aisle opens to the chapel, not through an arch but through an unglazed, two-light window with reticulated tracery (shown in the photograph, left, which also shows the N. arcade) which was clearly once an external window and which seems to prove the chapel to be a nineteenth century addition, a conclusion reinforced by the manifestly Victorian arch between the chapel and the chancel. However, the chapel E. window is old (with reticulated tracery), having probably been moved here from the N. wall of the chancel.  The chancel S. wall has a double piscina recessed in its eastern end, with cinquefoil-cusped ogee archlets.  The only other church furnishing worth particularizing is the Decorated font (illustrated right), which displays a range of window traceries typical of the period carved on the sides the bowl, in a similar manner to that at the neighbouring church of All Saints, Icklingham.  Yet whereas there, one face still displays intersecting tracery, a late Early English design, here the forms appear to be moving towards the Perpendicular style, with one “window” displaying a tracery that comes very close to supermullioned.