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English Church Architecture -

Suffolk.

 

CHEVINGTON, All Saints (TL 980 479)     (October 2001)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

 

The church consists of a tall, diagonally-buttressed W tower, a tall nave with a small S. porch, and a chancel.  The tower (shown left, from the southeast) is very odd: it now rises in four stages but the bell-stage is the third while the fourth above, with its battlements and prominent pinnacles, is entirely open to the elements - roofless and with unglazed lancet windows.  In fact this is an addition built at the expense of the talented but eccentric Bishop of Derry and 4th Earl of Bristol (from 1779 to 1803), builder of the equally strange Ickworth House two miles to the northeast, who wanted a more picturesque view of the church from his park.  The rest of the tower is Perpendicular and is distinguished only by its basal frieze of trefoil-cusped flushwork arches and by the pairs of narrow flushwork arches recessed in the lowest stage of the buttresses.  Internally the arch to the nave displays a series of wave mouldings running round it, without intervening capitals.

 

The nave is Norman in origin, as witnessed by the round-arched doorways, of which that to the south (inside the porch) is decorated by roll and dogtooth mouldings and by two orders of shafts with leaf volute capitals against the jambs.  (See the photograph below right.)  Dogtooth moulding is usually associated with the Early English style, however, rather than the Norman period, and so its presence here must surely indicate that the date is late - c. 1200, or even somewhat afterwards.  Perhaps the restored and very simple N. doorway was the original entrance for there is nothing to indicate an equally late date for this, nor for the little Norman window to the east (immediately behind an intervening buttress).  Other nave windows consist of one Early English window on each side, with differing forms of plate tracery, and two Perpendicular S. windows with supermullioned tracery.  The nave roof was once of couple type, with little arched braces at the sides supported on nicely carved angel corbels (still surviving at the east and west ends) and with traceried spandrels above, but during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, tie beams were added, one of which is dated 1590, and two, 1638, the first also bearing the name "Thomas Frost" and the others, the initials "C.P." and "S.P.".  The open, half-timbered S. porch has been partially rebuilt but retains its original (perhaps fourteenth century) outer arch, its early date indicated by the cruck construction.

 

The chancel is lit by restored lancets at the sides and by a five-light Tudor-style window to the east (short and square-headed, with four-centred, uncusped lights), which in fact dates from 1697 when the length of the chancel was reduced.  Presumably this is also the date of the chancel roof, which is much too low-pitched to look right here, even though the beams are proudly carved with the name "Edward Grove",  and the motto, "Soli Deo" ["to God alone"].  The chancel arch, however (shown left), "is very original and successful" (Pevsner) and consists of a narrow central arch with hollow chamfered mouldings above moulded semicircular corbels, and large side arches, constructed, in Pevsner's view, to hold side altars.  (Cf. St. Mary's, Gedding.)

 

There are a few items of woodwork to mention.  The chancel was dramatically refurbished in the 1980s when the modern stone altar was placed in the centre and nearly all the furniture was removed, but it does still contain one short and two long mediaeval benches, all with poppyheads and traceried bench-ends, as well as an excellent chest, probably of Decorated date, closely covered with tracery and carvings of animals, fish and birds.  The nave retains eleven old benches (mostly at the back) with traceried bench-ends and figure poppyheads, while above the S. door hang the arms of George I, clearly dated 1726.