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English Church Architecture -



MARKET WESTON, St. Mary (TL 991 782)     (April 2007)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


This is a building that appears more interesting at first sight than it subsequently proves to be, for it is dominated externally by the proud Perpendicular S. porch (shown left, from the southwest) which, however, is the only surviving mediaeval work of significance.  The porch windows have supermullioned drop tracery set beneath segmental-pointed arches, with two tiers of reticulation units that reach more than one third of the way down the entire window.  (See the porch W. window, below right.)  The S. front is decorated with four tiers of flushwork rectangles - the first on the battlements, the second immediately beneath, with a canopied niche in the centre, above the outer doorway, and the third and fourth beside the doorway jambs, below the springing.  The spandrels are constructed of stone carved with trefoil-cusped niches and other motifs, and the outer doorway itself bears two hollow chamfers containing at intervals, carved roses around the inner order and crowns alternating with roses around the outer order, above an order of shafts with castellated capitals.


The rest of the church, consisting of a chancel, nave and W. tower, was  so heavily restored in 1844 by Lewis Cottingham (1787 - 1847) as now to be almost an early Victorian building.  Cottingham - who restored Rochester and Hereford Cathedrals as well as St. Mary’s, Bury St. Edmunds in this county - was generally regarded in his lifetime and afterwards as a capable, sensitive architect, and his chancel windows here at Market Weston, in Decorated style, with cinquefoil-cusped Y-tracery to the north and south and reticulated tracery to the east, may be faithful to their predecessors.  The two-light curvilinear-traceried nave windows probably are not, for they fail to look convincingly mediaeval.  The tower rises in three stages and has a two-light reticulated W. window and reticulated bell-openings with tumbled-in bricks round the heads. However, the small arch or doorway between the tower and the nave is old and bears wave mouldings, suggestive of Perpendicular times. The nave roof is a flimsy double hammerbeam construction, with collars, castellated wall plates, and purlins at the ¼, ½, and ¾ positions.  The chancel arch appears to be entirely by Cottingham and bears a wave moulding above semicircular shafts.  Finally, a few minor monuments on the chancel walls include one dedicated to Dr. John Thruston (d. 1776), signed by Samuel Peck, and one commemorating John Thruston, the date of whose death (1849) seems at odds with those of the artist, Robert de Carle of Bury St. Edmunds (fl. 1795 to 1842).  Perhaps this monument, therefore, is by a son or other relation.  There were two families of eighteenth/nineteenth century sculptors named de Carle, based in Bury St. Edmunds and Norwich, which “are impossible to disentangle” (Dictionary of British Sculptors: 1660 - 1851, by Rupert Gunnis, The Abbey Library, 1951).