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

SUFFOLK. 

(Bedrock:  Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group.)

 

A village church distinguished by its fifteenth century tower,

inscribed with the name of the benefactor.

 

This church, 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 N. aisle is Perpendicular (with windows with supermullioned tracery), as also is the clerestory.  The three-bay arcade (seen below right), consists of arches bearing one flat and one hollow chamfer, springing from piers composed of four semicircular shafts separated by narrow hollows, and looks scarcely later than c. 1400, yet the tower is believed to be essentially fifteenth century work and bears an inscription shared between its two buttresses, that reads 'here begynnyth John Baco(n) owthe [?]'  [northwest buttress] 'of the fu(n)dacyon Jhu p(re)serve hym' [southwest buttress], which a brave attempt at interpretation might render 'John Bacon sets out on this work, beginning with the foundations,  Jesu preserve him'.  (This is probably the same John Bacon who paid for the remodelling of the W. tower at Hessett.)   The W. window (illustrated below left) has been restored but the attractive tracery appears original and was described by  D.P. Mortlock as 'Decorated'  (The Popular Guide to Suffolk Churches, Cambridge, The Lutterworth Press, 1988, p.66), 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, where flowing forms regularly occur at considerably later dates.  Besides, the cinquefoil-cusping of the lights does not fit well with the Decorated period anyway.