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English Church Architecture -



ERISWELL, St. Lawrence (TL 724 780)     (September 2005)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Lower Chalk)


This church is largely the work of two periods, namely the late thirteenth century in the S. aisle and S. chapel, and the early to mid fourteenth in the W. tower, nave, chancel and N. porch.  It will thus be described in two corresponding parts.


The aisle S. windows include one with original intersecting tracery (illustrated left) and one with renewed Y-tracery, while the aisle W. window has renewed cusped intersecting tracery.  The S. doorway bears two renewed hollow-chamfered mouldings, there is a canopied recess for a tomb immediately to the east, and east again, beyond the intersecting window, there is an odd square window (also shown), low down, with tracery consisting of “a centre with four diagonally radiating cusped arches” (Pevsner), that probably once served the function of a lowside window.  The S. chapel is lit by three S. lancets, of which the easternmost is wider and renewed, and an E. window with Y-tracery.  The two-bay arcade from the chapel to the chancel, is formed of double-flat-chamfered arches springing from quatrefoil piers.  The chapel and aisle roofs have been renewed but are of the type traced back by Cecil Hewett to c. 1220 at Coggeshall in Essex (Church Carpentry, pub. Phillimore, 1982), formed of collars with scissor braces above.  


Except for one with conventional reticulated tracery to the west of the porch, the church N. windows, like the S. window to the sanctuary where the chancel projects beyond the chapel, are formed of two trefoil-cusped lights each with an ungainly octfoil above.  The chancel E. window (shown right) is composed of three cinquefoil-cusped lights, with intersecting ogee subarcuation of the lights in pairs and an irregular sexfoil in the head.  The diagonally-buttressed tower (seen left, in the photograph of the church from the northeast) rises in two stages to battlements and two-light bell-openings with quatrefoils above;  the W. wall features an ogee-cusped niche above a window formed of two small trefoiled lights (joined, but not enclosed in an encompassing arch), and a W. doorway with two sunk quadrant mouldings.  Inside the church again, the three-bay aisle arcade consists of arches bearing two sunk quadrant mouldings springing from octagonal piers with prominent capitals. The chancel arch bears sunk quadrant mouldings above renewed responds, while the tower arch is really two arches, both flat chamfered, one each to east and west, built into the thickness of the wall in such a manner as to create a recessed soffit between.


Finally, of church furnishings there is little to say as they are mostly all new.  However, the lean-to S. aisle roof is old and has nicely carved bosses, principal rafters and central purlin.  Pace Pevsner, the attractive rood screen now appears wholly modern;  it supports a fan-vaulted loft from which rise figures of Christ on the cross, watched over by St. Mary and St. John.