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CONEY WESTON, St. Mary  (TL 972 784),

SUFFOLK. 

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk.)

 

A small rural church with a thatched roof,

 displaying two distinct manifestations of the Decorated style.

 

 

Situated a mile to the west of the village, this picturesque little church, out of sight of any other building, consists today of just a chancel and a nave with a tall S. porch, an erstwhile tower having fallen at some uncertain time in the past.  The nave is thatched and the walls are constructed largely of flint rubble except for the S. wall of the nave and the walls of the porch, which are faced with knapped flint.  Stylistically, the differences between the nave and chancel are marked, yet these parts of the church cannot be far apart in age, leaving Nikolaus Pevsner and James Bettley content to describe both merely as Decorated (The Buildings of England: Suffolk West, New Haven & London, Yale University Press, 2015, p. 201).  However, the chancel appears to be a somewhat earlier piece of work or else the product of a more conservative mason.  The tracery of its three, two-light S. windows is still closely allied to the late thirteenth century geometric style, and the very tentative use of the ogee around the upper lobes of the trefoil-cusped lights, suggests this was only then just beginning to be employed, a stylistic change that occurred c. 1315.  The  chancel E. window is formed of four trefoil-cusped lights with three trefoils above, which is all there is room for beneath its segmental arch.  The chancel N. wall shows evidence of two blocked arches that must once have communicated with a chapel:  the two-light, square-headed window inserted into the westernmost blocked arch, which is also Decorated in style, has presumably been re-set, and here copies most of the nave N. windows, which are tall but square-headed and composed of two ogee-pointed cusped lights with half a quatrefoil above.  A date around 1340 would probably fit these, as it would also the nave S. windows and the two shorter, similar windows to the porch.  The porch has a very low-pitched roof and battlements above, and is entered through a modified outer doorway, now formed of a rather insubstantial arch bearing a sunk quadrant moulding, springing from much more substantial, semicircular responds.  (See the photograph, right.)

 

Inside the building, the nave proves to consist essentially of four bays, in conformity with the fenestration of the S. wall but not that of the N. wall.  The chancel arch is composed of two flat-chamfered orders, with the inner springing from semi-octagonal responds and the outer, continuous down the jambs.  On either side of the chancel arch, pairs of blank arches recessed in the E. wall of the nave suggest tiny chapels may once have been squeezed into these cramped positions.  The S. chapel was also provided with a piscina, which can still be seen recessed in the nave S. wall.  However, by far the most attractive and noteworthy interior feature of the church is the angle piscina in the chancel S. wall (shown left), which opens through stilted trefoil-cusped arches into the chancel to the north and the window splay to the west, supported on a circular column at the northwest angle and on demi-columns to the south and east;  the arches have gables above, topped by carved leaf motifs.  There is little else to see.  The nave roof has been ceiled and the chancel roof is modern like the furniture.  The church contains a single monument, on the N. side of the chancel arch, commemorating 'Maurice Dryer of London, Merchant, who departed this life 21st  November 1786, aged 49'.  It is not of good quality however and appears to be unsigned.