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English Church Architecture -



FINNINGHAM, St. Bartholomew (TM 066 694)     (July 2006)

(Bedrock:  Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group)


This is a fairly long but aisleless building (shown left, from the southeast), pleasantly situated to the north of a green and consisting of a nave with N. and S. porches, a chancel, and an embattled W. tower.  The latter is the oldest work, although probably not as old as it looks at first sight, for though it rises in two unbuttressed stages to Y-traceried bell-openings to the north, south and west, the opening above the nave roof to the east (visible in the photograph) consists of a quatrefoil in a circle and this seems likely to be original since there are no traces of any earlier openings here, while the W. doorway is ogee-arched beneath flint flushwork spandrels, making any date before c. 1320 improbable.  Perhaps this was conservative work by a mason of the older generation, therefore, of which there are hundreds of possible examples in East Anglia straddling the Decorated/Perpendicular divide, but rather less that seem to carry Early English forms through to Decorated times.


Apart from the brick N. porch (shown below left), now the vestry, the rest of the church is Perpendicular in style and may date from c. 1463 since in that year a parishioner bequeathed one mark (thirteen shillings and four pence) towards the glazing of the windows. The three-light nave windows have ogee archlets, drop supermullioned tracery, split “Y”s, and castellated supertransoms above the central lights, although nearly everything externally has been restored or renewed. The chancel has similar windows, albeit two-light to north and south, while the S. porch (illustrated right) has two-light side windows with four-centred lights and drop tracery formed of two tiers of reticulation units separated by full transoms.  The porch is the most ornate part of the building: the parapet displays a carved frieze of blank quatrefoils and the S. front is decorated with carved spandrels, flushwork above and at the sides of the doorway, and three canopied niches (two outside the spandrels and one above the apex) with buttresses at the sides.  The doorway displays Tudor rose motifs set out round its two orders, the inner of which springs from semicircular shafts.


Internally the nave has a false hammerbeam roof (i.e. with the braces springing from the back) constructed in seven bays, but, predictably, the figures have been sawn off.  The wide chancel arch lacks responds and bears one flat and one slightly hollowed chamfer, while the chancel contains a number of monuments, none of them special, but including one commemorating Sir John Fenn (d. 1794), by John Bacon the Elder (1740-99), which depicts a woman weeping over a tomb-chest, and another dedicated to John Williamson (d. 1781) and designed by John Golden (fl. 1781-1808), whose “monuments are carried out in coloured marbles and frequently have charming ‘Adam’ details” (Dictionary of British Sculptors: 1660-1851, by Rupert Gunnis, pub. The Abbey Library, 1951).  Broceatelli and Sienna marbles have been used in this case.  The church was restored in 1888 by Joseph Arthur Reeve of James Street, London, and it was he who was responsible for the W. gallery.