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English Church Architecture -



GREAT BRADLEY, St. Mary (TL 674 532)     (October 2001)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


This little church, which consists in plan of a W. tower, nave, shortened chancel and S. porch, has a number of significant features.  The Perpendicular tower has set-back buttresses and rises in three stages to battlements with a stair turret at the southeast angle rising higher than the tower itself.  The nave and chancel windows are an assortment of early Decorated through to Perpendicular forms, most of them heavily restored, but the N. doorway (shown left) is Norman with a roll moulding around a blank tympanum and an order of shafts with scalloped capitals down the jambs, and the S. doorway (away from the road and inside the porch) is similar but better, with an arch decorated with wide chevron moulding, an order of shafts with cable moulding, and a tympanum supported on a lintel carried, in turn, on two corbel heads.   The chancel arch is only a little later:  here the arch is pointed but quite unmoulded except for the narrowest of chamfers, and the jambs completely lack responds.  The date of this work seems to be c. 1200.


The  brick  porch (illustrated right) is  said to date from the reign of Henry  VIII (1509-47).  It is considerably worn but still rather grand and has a four-centred outer doorway surrounded by two moulded rolls separated by a casement,  a small niche either side, a moulded label above with little blank quatrefoils in the spandrels, a  row of  five  cinquefoil-cusped niches  above that,  and finally, another niche in the apex of the gable, beneath the steeply stepped battlements.


Finally, the church contains some interesting carpentry, most notably including the king post nave roof, probably of Perpendicular date, and the plain but handsome Georgian pulpit (left), still with its original tester.  There must also once have been a large rood screen, for the nave walls have been cut away immediately west of the chancel arch, presumably  to accommodate it.