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English Church Architecture -



ICKLINGHAM, St. James (TL 771 730)     (September 2005)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Lower Chalk)


Icklingham is a small village boasting two mediaeval churches:  the church of All Saints, which is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, and the present building (seen above from the northeast), which is still used for worship today but which, from an architectural standpoint, is indisputably the lesser structure.  Indeed, with its poor unbuttressed W. tower of c. 1800 and its heavily restored aisled nave, chancel and N. porch, St. James’s is striking externally only for the extensive use it makes of squared knapped flint - a material which, as here, rarely repays by its appearance what it costs in labour (although the masons must have been pleased with it since they left their names scratched in the N. aisle wall - “H.A. 1865” and “Joseph Needham 1865” ).  Some windows are partly old, however, either retained in their original positions or otherwise re-set, of which the most notable are the chancel windows of c. 1300, consisting of lancet pairs with irregular octfoils above to the south (see the photograph, left), and of a three-light, cinquefoil-cusped window with intersecting tracery to the east, with cusped lozenges and triangles in the reticulation units.  The two-light windows in the N. and S. walls of the aisles, with straightened reticulation units in their heads (see the south window illustrated below right), would usually suggest the second half of the fourteenth century, but it is difficult to know how much confidence to place in them here.  The aisle W. windows are different again:  that to the north with plate tracery might normally imply the first half of the thirteenth century, and that to the south with reticulated tracery, the first half of the fourteenth, but no corroboration for these dates is available inside the church, where most of the evidence seems to fit the fifteenth century best.  The four-bay nave arcades are composed of arches bearing wave mouldings and a hollow, springing from compound piers with semicircular shafts towards the openings only, while the chancel arch is similar.  The clerestory windows are positioned above the arcade spandrels.  The church contains just one important piece of woodwork, namely the fourteenth century chest at the W. end, covered with iron scroll work, brought here since Pevsner’s visit from the church of All Saints.