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English Church Architecture -



HARTEST, All Saints (TL 834 524)     (October 2001)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


Hartest is one of the most attractive small villages in Suffolk, composed of colour-washed cottages clustered round a triangular green resplendent with mature trees. It seems almost to have avoided the twentieth century and although situated alongside the B1066 road from Glemsford to Bury St. Edmunds, on an autumn afternoon it retains an air of tranquillity and timelessness.  That said, the church, at the bottom corner of the green, is not its best feature, although it would serve well as an example of a composition in mixed media.  The nave, chancel and lower parts of the tower are built of flint and cobbles with limestone dressings, while the upper parts of the tower introduce into this admixture a substantial quantity of very red bricks of Commonwealth date, used, however, simply as another ingredient in the rubble.  However, still more striking are the almost black porches, constructed of squared and coursed, knapped flints.  (See the illustration, right.)  The effort that went into erecting these must have been prodigious but cannot be said to have been justified on aesthetic grounds. The N. porch (shown above left)  dates from the sixteenth century and has three ogee-arched, trefoil-cusped niches over an outer doorway set in a square surround with shields in the flushwork spandrels, too small to make a show.


All Saints' is an aisled building and has both N. and S. chapels, of which the former now serves as an organ chamber.  The tower is diagonally buttressed and externally much renewed, as are the S. chapel and the chancel E. end, where the angles have been reconstructed in gault brick.  The best windows are those in the S. aisle, which have three lights and supermullioned drop tracery.  The church guide says the S. aisle and chapel were constructed in the fourteenth century, but these windows are later than that.  The windows in the N. front are untraceried - even though this is the principal façade - but they are tall and transomed.  The church guide ascribes the N. aisle and chapel to the fifteenth century.


Internally the tall three-bay nave arcades appear to be of a single building phase.  They consist of double-flat-chamfered arches with broaches, springing from octagonal piers.  Stylistically, this suggests an early fourteenth century date.  There is no tower arch, just a doorway, and the chancel arch is Victorian.  However, the arches from the N. aisle and chancel to the N. chapel and the arch from the S. aisle to the S. chapel, do appear to be fifteenth century work - they have a complex profile and an order of semicircular shafts with capitals carved with fleurons.  The arch from the chancel to the S. chapel is older and has two flat chamfered orders and semi-octagonal shafts.


Finally, the roofs and pulpit must be mentioned. The aisle roofs have traceried spandrels above the arched braces and nicely carved cornices, even though every bay is different to the next.  (See the N. aisle roof, left.)  They date from the early sixteenth century. The hammerbeam nave roof was constructed in 1652 (although its age does not make it attractive) and the tall pulpit has been renovated but is essentially Jacobean.