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English Church Architecture -

Suffolk.

 

LIDGATE, St. Mary (TL 721 582)     (October 2004)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

 

The building (shown left, from the southeast) consists of a W. tower, an aisled nave with a S. porch, and a chancel, and is notable for its idiosyncratic Decorated windows - three in the N. aisle, two in the S. aisle, and two in the S. wall of the chancel (one of which is illustrated below right) - that are so similar to those in the chancel at neighbouring Wickhambrook, they must surely be by the same hand.  Other windows of this time seem to be the two-light one with octfoil, west of the porch, and the chancel E. window with restored curvilinear tracery, but the one south and three north lancets in the chancel, show that this part of the church at least is Early English.  The tower is angle buttressed and has a plain parapet, cinquefoil-cusped Y-traceried bell-openings, and a two-light W. window with octfoil like that in the S. aisle.  The brick S. porch constructed in mixed bond probably belongs to the seventeenth or eighteenth century. The inner doorway has Perpendicular mouldings but could be remodelled twelfth century work for there is an odd tympanum beneath the two-centred arch which is hard to explain otherwise.

 

There is nothing Norman inside the building, however, where the evidence merely reinforces that of the exterior.  The four-bay arcades must be Decorated for while the double-flat-chamfered arches and octagonal piers could possibly be older, the prominent capitals are distinctive.  The chancel arch is more difficult to assign as the semicircular responds with round capitals do not look quite in keeping with the quadrant mouldings above, but the piscina with trefoil-cusped arch and order of colonnettes recessed in the chancel S. wall is certainly Early English.  The tower communicates with the nave through a doorway with Perpendicular mouldings.  The building also has one Perpendicular window, in the S. aisle E. wall, which has supermullioned tracery beneath a segmental arch.

 

This leaves just woodwork to describe and again there is nothing of the first order, but the Stuart pulpit is somewhat out of the ordinary with its strapwork panels above the inevitable round arches.  The mediaeval rood screen is not good and though the N. parclose screen with castellated cresting is better, it is humble stuff in Suffolk terms, as are the rustic benches in the N. aisle (joined transversely to the wall) with linenfold panelling on the bench-ends, of probable sixteenth century date.  Many of the benches in the nave are also old, albeit of no better quality.  All have square ends and just one has tracery beneath.