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English Church Architecture -



HORRINGER, St. Leonard (TL 826 620)     (August 2005)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


The church (shown left, from the southeast) stands by the entrance to the National Trust property of Ickworth Park and has been so much rebuilt that The Bury & Norwich Post was able to write on 14th October 1818 that, "Nothing remains of the former edifice, but the plain masonry of the walls".  This was when the church was being restored at the expense of Mr. Arthur Brooke, who may also have designed the alterations, and was doubtless an exaggeration, but the church was restored a second time in 1845 by Lewis Cottingham (1747-1847), who was just finishing work at St. Mary's, Bury St. Edmunds and who built the three-bay N. aisle here, and a third time by John Drayton Wyatt (1820-91), an assistant of Sir George Gilbert Scott, who virtually rebuilt the chancel in 1866 and replaced Cottingham's N. vestry with the present two-bay organ chamber.  It is interesting to compare the work of these two men for while the N. arcade is self-effacingly constructed to match the arch from the nave (sic) into the one-and-a-half bay S. chapel opposite, the arcade between the chancel and organ chamber seems happy to be forthrightly Victorian, oblivious of its mediocrity.  However, even Wyatt's restoration was not the last the church underwent, for a major refitting of the nave took place during the 1880s, and then in 1912 Charles Nicholson restored the tower and porch, adding pinnacles to the tower and battlements to both the tower and nave using flint chequerwork.  Altogether then, there is little here that is original, but the porch and lower stages of the unbuttressed W. tower still appear largely Perpendicular, and the tower bell-stage with round-arched bell-openings remains much as when first built in 1703, a date inscribed on the southern keystone. 


The porch (shown right) seems to have been first constructed c. 1464, when money was left for it.  Since the nave S. chapel seems then to have been built already, the porch was joined to it, to the west, which has left the nave continuing for a further half bay beyond.  It is risky to place too much reliance on the originality of the porch's present features but they do mostly look mediaeval.  The S. front is covered in flushwork, with two tiers of arches beside the doorway and chequerwork in the gable, to either side of a central niche.  The parapet is decorated with carved blank quatrefoils set inside a frieze of lozenges.


Internally, the tower arch seems also to be old: it carries a flat chamfer on semi-octagonal responds but it is the capitals that are interesting for these are decorated with little fleurons round their necks.  The chancel arch may also be essentially mediaeval and has certainly spread a lot since work was done on it last.  The church contains just one monument that need be mentioned and that only because it is signed. Positioned now against the N. aisle W. wall, it commemorates Valentine Mumbee (d. 1750) and is by Thomas Singleton of Bury St. Edmunds (1715-92), an artist of middling ability.  (Dictionary of British Sculptors: 1660-1851 by Rupert Gunnis, The Abbey Library, 1951.)


Finally a note might be added on some of the natural stones used by Wyatt in the rebuilding of the chancel since these have been carefully recorded. They include Red Mansfield stone from the Upper Permian Series, in the shafts supporting the arcade to the organ chamber, and Ancaster and Corsham Down stones from the Middle Jurassic Series, respectively in the window exteriors and interiors, showing that provenance was of no importance at all to some architects in the period immediately postdating the coming of the railways.