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English Church Architecture -



FORNHAM ST. MARTIN, St. Martin (TL 852 669)       (July 2004)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


The church consists of a Perpendicular W tower, nave and chancel, with the addition of a Tudor N. porch and a large, independently-gabled S. aisle and cross-gabled N. vestry, both of which are Victorian.  Nothing here is of great architectural merit but the diagonally-buttressed tower (shown left, from the west) is not without nobility and rises in four stages to flint chequerwork battlements beneath which a series of cheerful gargoyles look down on the visitor below.  Other features to notice are the semi-octagonal stair turret projecting at the southeast angle and rising to the bell-stage, the two-light, four-centred bell-openings which are tall and transomed, and the W. window with supermullioned tracery and a small quatrefoil in the apex in what appears to be a local fashion (cf., for example, the church at neighbouring Great Barton).  The W. doorway is two-centred and surrounded by flat-chamfered and sunk-flat-chamfered mouldings.  Internally, the unattractively painted tower arch is tall and formed of three flat-chamfered orders, only the innermost of which has intervening capitals.


Other mediaeval features of the building include the N. windows to the nave and the chancel, where there is one on each side of the vestry.  These are two-light, segmental-pointed and supermullioned, with supertransoms above the two central reticulation units, while the archlets are triangular-headed, leading one to suspect the genuineness of their form at first, although closer inspection reveals that at least some of the stonework is original.  The chancel E. window has supermullioned tracery and two-centred lights.  The chancel arch - which is also painted and which has spread alarmingly - carries a series of complex mouldings above semi-octagonal responds with castellated capitals.


The N. porch (illustrated right) has crow-stepped battlements and is constructed in English-bonded Tudor brick.  The outer doorway is four-centred.  The inner doorway is Perpendicular again, two-centred and - unlike the tower W. doorway - set in a square surround.  There are fleurons in the hollow chamfer around the arch, more beneath the label, and carved shields in the spandrels.


Finally, the Victorian parts of the building require little comment.  The aisle in Second Pointed style is large but undistinguished and separated from the nave by a three-bay arcade consisting of double-flat-chamfered arches and octagonal piers.