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English Church Architecture -



HAWKEDON, St. Mary (TL 797 530)     (October 2001)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


The church (shown left, from the southeast) is surrounded by greens in the centre of a pleasant, still relatively isolated village.  It is constructed of flint, septaria and pebble rubble with limestone dressings, and consists of a tall W. tower, a nave, a S. porch and a chancel, of which at least the first three are Perpendicular, the tower with diagonal buttresses, battlements and a flint chequerwork basal frieze, and the porch with battlements and an attractive corbel table added in moulded brick, a stoop recessed in the E. buttress beside the outer doorway, and a small niche flanked by blank arches in the gable. The nave windows have three lights and two tiers of reticulation units.  However, the chancel is ambiguous. Certainly the  five-light, supermullioned E. window is Perpendicular here, but what of the N. and S. windows in which reticulated tracery is combined with cinquefoil-cusping?  These seem most likely to be either late Decorated or early Perpendicular and it is necessary to look for further evidence inside the building, where the Decorated-style chancel arch, of two orders bearing hollow chamfers springing from semi-octagonal shafts, might or might not provide the clue.  Otherwise it is only really the Norman font and some of the church woodwork that is of interest internally.  The former consists of a large bowl standing on a modern base, now semi-octagonal to the west but still square to the east, where shafts are carved at the angles in shallow relief.  The woodwork includes most of the main beams of the nave roof, which is of wagon type albeit with two tie beams added. Then there is a plain, panelled Jacobean pulpit, the dado of the former rood screen in which the central sections have finely carved supermullioned tracery with fleurons in quatrefoils in the arch heads, and an unusually complete set of mediaeval nave benches (thirteen to the north and fourteen to the south) with carved poppyheads (three of which are illustrated below).  Finally, mention should be made of the memorial so prominently attached to the E. side of the chancel arch N. respond, commemorating Richard Everard (d. 1670) and his wife Dorothy (d. 1678).  It has a shield above, black alabaster columns, putti to the sides and a skull beneath, and is typical enough of the ugly monuments that were so fashionable in the seventeenth century.