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English Church Architecture -



HONINGTON, All Saints (TL 913 746)     (July 2007)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Lower Chalk)


Like its nearby and now redundant neighbour at Sapiston, the Norman origins of this church are witnessed by a well-preserved S. doorway inside the porch (shown left) and, in this case only, by a simpler chancel arch with nook shafts to the west.  The doorway is composed of three orders bearing rolls and two outer bands of saltires, one of which decorates the hood-mould.  It is supported on two pairs of side shafts with scalloped capitals, the inner, original to the west, where the shaft displays worn spiral decoration, and the outer, original on both sides and decorated with chevron with the addition, on the eastern shaft only, of square blocks carved with fleurons, placed one quarter, one half and three-quarters of the way up its height.  This is a sufficiently idiosyncratic design to bring to mind the employment of similar elements in the S. doorway at Little Totham, Essex, some forty miles to the south, and to raise the possibility at least, that the mason of one had actually seen the other.


At Honington the nave S. windows come next, with their cusped Y-tracery after the style of c. 1300.  Elsewhere, windows adopt chiefly early fourteenth century forms, but the two-light N. windows to the nave are Perpendicular, with supermullioned tracery and split Ys.  The embattled but unbuttressed W. tower has segmental-pointed bell-openings with cinquefoil-cusped ogee lights, a stair turret in Tudor brick projecting at the southwest angle, and a former (higher) nave gable line visible externally on its E. wall. The relatively grand S. porch (illustrated right) has three-light side windows with strong mullions and stepped supertransoms above trefoil-cusped lights, and a S. front which is decorated above the doorway by a poorly executed, eleven-bay, flushwork arcade, with lierne-vaulted niches occupying bays four, six and eight.  The outer doorway displays fleurons around its two hollow-chamfered orders, traceried spandrels bearing shields, and more fleurons in a hollow round the label.


The church interior adds little except for the chancel arch mentioned above.  The tower arch is of no real interest but bears two flat chamfers, the inner dying into the jambs.  However, the four fifteenth century benches in the chancel are good and clearly the work of the same firm whose craftsmanship may be seen at Barningham, Ixworth Thorpe, Norton, Stowlangtoft, Tostock and Woolpit.  The carved arm rests include a dog, a monkey, a unicorn (almost identical to that at Ixworth Thorpe) and, most memorably, a man playing bagpipes (see below left).   Finally the octagonal font (below right) has tracery on the stem and circular or tracery patterns on the faces of the bowl apart from that to the east, where a Crucifixion scene is depicted, showing Christ looking down at St. Mary and St. John.