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English Church Architecture -



HINDERCLAY, St. Mary (TM 027 768)     (August 2006)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


This rather modest building consists of a chancel, a nave with a S. aisle, a W. tower, and a simple wooden S. porch of cruck construction.  Windows are not of much interest, being Decorated and reticulated in the chancel except for one with cusped Y-tracery to the north, and mostly square-headed and Perpendicular in the aisle and N. wall of the nave.  The blocked N. doorway appears Norman in origin but the S. doorway inside the porch is rather later and probably contemporary with the aisle arcade.  The Perpendicular tower (shown left, from the west) is diagonally-buttressed and rises in two stages to stepped battlements decorated with flint flushwork.  The rather rather unusual square-headed bell-openings are formed of flint chequerwork panels below and supermullioned tracery above, in which the heads of the reticulation units intersect.  However, probably the most noteable feature of the church is the four-bay Early English arcade (illustrated below right), formed of short circular piers supporting deeply hollow-chamfered arches of two orders.  Pevsner considered this “early thirteenth century” and it is certainly rather crude. Yet it could be somewhat later, or early thirteenth century work remodelled, for although the piers and capitals fit Pevsner’s date, hollow chamfered mouldings do not appear to have been common in East Anglia in this period.  The tower arch has three orders bearing two flat and one recessed flat chamfers. The chancel arch was badly damaged when it was cut away to house a former rood loft, but is formed of a deeply hollow chamfered inner order springing from semi-octagonal shafts, and a narrow outer order without capitals. The best feature of the chancel itself is the corner piscina in the E. splay of the easternmost S. window, with its circular shaft at the northwest angle and trefoil-cusped, ogee-pointed arches opening north and northwest.  Both this and the chancel arch are stylistically at one with the fenestration of the chancel.


Finally, the church was not mentioned by Gunnis but a monument on the N. side of the chancel commemorating a certain George Thompson (d. 1711), features an achievement above, putti at the sides, and the winged faces of cherubs beneath.  The only items of woodwork worth particularizing are some plain benches in the nave, with simple poppyheads.