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English Church Architecture -

Suffolk.

 

DRINKSTONE, All Saints (TL 960 617)     (August 2004)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

 

One of the most interesting features of this building is the modest W. tower (shown left, from the south) in a vaguely eighteenth century style, constructed in Flemish bonded brick with dark headers. Pevsner recorded that its date is actually 1694, however, as witnessed by an inscription on the W. wall (illustrated below right) which was presumably still readable at the time of his visit (although it is no longer).  The tower rises to stepped battlements and bell-openings formed of the expected, single round-headed arch on each side, supported - rather incongruously - by diagonal buttresses, and lit to the west by another round-headed opening in the second stage and a Victorian window below which has no business here. Presumably this is an addition by Edward Hakewill (son of Henry Hakewill, the designer of Rugby School), who restored the rest of the church - badly - around 1860.  It was he who appears to have been responsible for the ineffective clerestory, formed of quatrefoils, and probably also, the present E. window in Decorated style, in which, however, he was largely true to the style of the chancel windows north and south.  Yet why was it necessary to construct a new window here at all, for it seems that the previous E. window (with curvilinear tracery) still exists, in a perfectly acceptable condition, now re-set in the S. wall? To the right are two, two-light windows with reticulated tracery, of which one has a sunk quadrant moulding around it instead of a flat chamfer, which might suggest a late date within the period (say, c. 1350).   (See the photograph of the chancel S. wall at the foot of the page.)  The N. wall is pierced by two, two-light reticulated windows with flat-chamfered surrounds, and the nave aisle windows are Perpendicular, with ogee lights and supermullioned drop tracery beneath flattened triangular arches.  Perhaps the S. porch is contemporary, as could also be the S. door.

 

Inside the church, the three-bay arcades consist of double-flat-chamfered arches springing from octagonal piers.  (See the S. arcade, left, viewed from the east.)  This is probably Decorated work though the chancel arch seems to have more of the thirteenth century about it, with capitals consisting of little more than simple abaci.  A wide rood stair built into the space between the chancel arch and the end of the N. arcade, appears unaltered from its original form.  Not so the aisle windows, whose wide splays seem out of proportion with their squashed heads, suggesting they have been cut down.  Perhaps the windows were remodelled to allow the aisle roofs to be lowered and the clerestory inserted, which would certainly fit with the fact that the apices of the arcade arches reach higher than the bottom of the splays of the clerestory quatrefoils (which have consequently had to be positioned over the spandrels).  This is speculation, however.  What is not in doubt is the thirteenth century date of the font, which adds strength to the possibility that the chancel arch could be of similar age.  It has two blank lancets on each face and stands on a central shaft with eight others surrounding it.  This leaves just two items of woodwork that must be described, namely the seventeenth century panelling in three tiers around the sanctuary, and the nicely painted Perpendicular rood screen, reminiscent of that at neighbouring Hessett, although perhaps more in the matter of paintwork than of carpentry.  Perhaps it is not too fanciful to wonder whether both could be the work of John Nun (fl 1518-36), joiner and carver of Drinkstone - though there appears to be no evidence to prove it is so - whom John Harvey identified as the carpenter brought in with one Roger Bell, to erect the rood loft at Great St. Mary's church in Cambridge (ibid). John Nun held lands in Drinkstone, however, and might conceivably have wanted to beautify his local church.  Both the Drinkstone and Hessett screens consist of five double-cusped, ogee-arched divisions, with supermullioned tracery and original cresting, and both have been well executed and designed, but the present screen is the more elaborate.