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English Church Architecture -



HAUGHLEY, St. Mary (TM 026 623)     (July 2006)

(Bedrock:  Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group)


This church is notable for the mediaeval S. tower (shown left, from the east) which doubles as a porch, but it is not of especial architectural significance otherwise, either there or in the rest of the building, which consists of a chancel and a nave with a S. aisle and a Victorian N. vestry.  Precise dating is difficult but the building style is that mixture of Decorated and Perpendicular forms that seems so common in the area and Pevsner could scarcely have given the church more than a few moments glance when he quite erroneously described it as “all of c. 1330-40”.  Thus the chancel is lit by segmental-pointed supermullioned windows which are clearly Perpendicular, albeit some are now restored or renewed, and the N. wall of the nave is pierced by one three-light supermullioned window as well as one with reticulated tracery. The windows in the wide S. aisle are ambiguous and require more detailed description. The aisle E. window is arguably the building’s best feature (see the photograph below right) being four-light and reticulated and elaborated by the addition of secondary, concave-sided reticulation units, held in position by subsidiary glazing bars of slender section in the centre of the primary units.  This is a design difficult to date with confidence but, perhaps, rather than being of 1330-40, it is more likely to be a re-working of Decorated forms, undertaken in Perpendicular times, for drop tracery in unusual in early fourteenth century work and the vertical subsidiary glazing bars suggest the influence of supermullions.  This applies still more to the design of the restored S. windows (see the thumbnail, below left) where a "supermullion" between the ogee lights supports a quatrefoil in the apex.  The S. tower has Y-traceried windows to east and west in the porch stage, and Y-traceried bell-openings in the bell-stage, yet a fourteenth (as opposed to thirteenth) century date for the work appears to be demonstrated by the little trefoil-cusped lights between.  Indeed, perhaps the date of this could be early Perpendicular too, for the outer doorway bears two sunk quadrant mouldings, a form in use over an extended period admittedly, but seemingly more usual in East Anglia in the second half of the fourteenth century. (For one dated example of its use, cf., for example, the nave arcades at St. Gregory’s, Sudbury, which were probably complete by 1380 and were likely to have been constructed in what was still considered a fashionable style.)


Inside the church, the S. arcade consists of five double-flat-chamfered arches springing from octagonal piers with large capitals which are typical of the Decorated period, and the chancel arch is similar but taller, as its position demands.  The chancel itself is approached up four steps and the sanctuary, up two more, but there is almost nothing within it that has not been restored.  This leaves the fine nave and aisle roofs to examine.  The former is constructed with carved, cambered tie beams alternating with arched braces that meet at the ridge, and has attractive carved bosses where the principal rafters cross the central purlins or join the ridge piece.  The S. aisle roof has angels at the base of the wall posts and, again, good bosses where the principal rafters cross the purlins, now placed (such is its width) at the ¼, ½ and ¾ positions.  The font displays the symbols of the Evangelists and four angels holding shields around the bowl, and four lions and four woodwoses round the stem, but it is not well preserved.