English Church Architecture.
GEDDING, St. Mary (TL 952 581),
(Bedrock: Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group.)
A humble little church of Norman origin, with an interesting chancel arch.
This little church does have a tower of sorts, in spite of the Ordnance Survey's denial of the fact on its 1:50,000 Landranger map for the area (sheet 155), although it must be admitted that it is a low and rather insignificant affair, with upper parts now of brick and a lower flint and pebble rubble stage distinguished only by flushwork on the outer faces of the diagonal buttresses. A semi-hexagonal stair turret projects from the S. wall and rises to the bell-stage, and the W. window has cinquefoil-cusped Y-tracery inside a four-centred arch betraying its late (Perpendicular) date.
The rest of the building consists of just a nave and chancel, but its antiquity is attested by a tiny Norman window on each side of the nave, with that to the south (illustrated right) having a little carved decoration round the head and incised chevron at the sides. Other windows are Decorated and consist of three, two-light cinquefoil-cusped windows with reticulated tracery, one on each side of the chancel and one in the nave N. wall, and a two-light, segmentally-arched window with mouchettes above the lights, in the nave S. wall. The chancel E. window has three lights and curvilinear tracery.
The church's most interesting feature, however, is inside and Decorated again. This is the chancel arch, which, although narrow and surrounded only by two flat chamfers without intervening capitals, has also a large cinquefoil-cusped, ogee-pointed opening on either side, beginning two feet (60 cm.) from the floor and extending above the springing level of the main arch. These openings are provided with flamboyant decorative hood-moulds, albeit now on the E. side only (sic). It seems likely that they once held life-sized statues (and surely these faced west?) which must have presented quite a grand spectacle, and it would be interesting to know from where the idea came. (See the photograph below.)
The church contains no other features of significance. The tower arch is formed of two hollow-chamfered orders, of which the inner springs from corbels. The font is Perpendicular and has an octagonal bowl with blank arcading on its faces. Probably best is the nave roof, which is largely old and has scissor bracing above the collars. This is an early form of roof construction, traced by Cecil Hewitt at least back to c. 1220 (at Little Coggeshall in Essex) (Church Carpentry, London & Chichester, Phillimore, 1982, p. 9), but it is one that continued in use for a long time afterwards.