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English Church Architecture -



BRADFIELD ST. GEORGE, St. George (TL 607 600)     (October 2001)

(Bedrock:  Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group)


The church (shown left, from the southeast), constructed of flint and septaria with limestone dressings, is set back from the lane down a short track in an attractive rural setting.  The W. tower is tall, embattled and diagonally-buttressed, and built in four stages with crocketed pinnacles at the corners and a stair turret at the southeast angle rising as far as the bell-stage.  The short nave has a N. aisle and a clerestory on both sides, above which the brick battlements are a later addition.  The chancel, unfortunately, has been completely remodelled in an ugly First Pointed style with over-wide lancets, and there is a S. porch of probable Perpendicular origin.


Chronologically, the nave S. wall comes first, as witnessed by a small, round-headed window, immediately east of the porch.  That is all that remains from Norman times, however, as the contemporary N. wall was taken down when the aisle was built and the clerestory added.  The S. doorway (inside the porch) is Decorated and has shafts with capitals attached to the jambs and an attractively moulded ogee arch above. The aisle is Perpendicular (with windows with supermullioned tracery), as also is the clerestory.  The three-bay arcade (seen below right), consisting of arches bearing one flat and one hollow chamfer, springing from piers composed of four semicircular shafts separated by narrow hollows, does not look much later than c. 1400.  However, the tower is believed to be essentially fifteenth century work and bears an inscription shared between its two buttresses, that appears to read “here begynnyth John Baco(n) owthe [?]”  [northwest buttress] (top photograph below left) “of the fu(n)dacyon Jhu p(re)serve hym” [southwest buttress].  This is probably the same John Bacon who paid for the remodelling of the W. tower at Hessett.  The W. window (lower photograph below left) has been restored below but the attractive tracery appears original.  D.P. Mortlock (in The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches, pub. Letterworth Press, 1988) described this as Decorated, but if by that he meant early fourteenth century, then surely that is a misreading, based on a reluctance to assign any Gothic tracery to a date much after c. 1350 that does not have mullions reaching to the window head.  That will manifestly not do in East Anglia.


The S. porch has a sundial over the outer doorway, which is known to have existed in 1810, bearing the inscription “Come in time”.  Masons’ marks to the right include the date “176-“.  


The church contains some significant woodwork, including a number of probable sixteenth century benches with poppyheads, in both the chancel and the N. aisle, and a small, octagonal Jacobean pulpit carved with two tiers of the usual round arches and strapwork panels above. The low-pitched nave roof - ascribed by Mortlock to the sixteenth century - has arched braces with traceried spandrels, and the chancel roof is decorated to form a "canopy of honour" above the sanctuary.  The wooden reredos is modern but very well carved and painted with panels depicting scenes from the Nativity.