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English Church Architecture -



MICKFIELD, St. Andrew (TM 135 618)     (October 2008)

(Bedrock:  Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group)


This church (shown left, from the west), which was declared redundant by the Church of England in 1977, is now owned by the Anglia Church Trust, a locally-based registered charity that restored the building from an extremely poor state and which now uses it for a wide variety of ecumenical purposes, some of which involve, for example, the provision of bed and breakfast accommodation in the tower - an explanation necessary to prepare the unsuspecting visitor for the curious arrangement of both the church and churchyard.  The building can still be viewed, however, and although there is nothing of major architectural significance here, the southwest tower is interesting for it belongs to a regional group of mediaeval church towers in this position that also serve as porches, other examples of which may be found at Barham, Gosbeck, Stonham Aspal, Thorndon and Witnesham, all of which are assignable to the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century.  (See St. Mary’s, Gosbeck for a fuller discussion of this feature.)  The present tower is diagonally-buttressed and has a stair turret at the southwest angle and a S. doorway carrying three hollow chamfers and a hood-mould above. The brick parapet is obviously a much later addition.


The rest of the building consists of a short nave and a chancel.  The nave has a three-light segmental-pointed W. window, with drop tracery above cinquefoil-cusped lights linked by the little subarcuations that appear to have constituted another local form, as seen, for example, in windows at St. Mary’s, Brettenham, All Saints’, Hitcham, St. Mary’s, Preston St. Mary, St. Nicholas’s, Rattlesden, St. George’s, Stowlangtoft and St. Mary’s, Wortham.  This is a sufficiently non-standard design to suggest that many of these could be attributable to the same itinerant school of artisans and, if that is so, they may also be dateable by association with the work at Stowlangtoft, which was executed c. 1390.  Other windows to the nave and chancel have been largely renewed, at least externally.


Inside the church, it is the chancel arch that is probably the most significant feature, being formed of two orders, the inner flat-chamfered above semi-octagonal responds, and the outer, bearing a wave moulding that is continuous all the way round.  The nave roof is extremely low pitched and supported by arched braces, while the chancel roof is somewhat steeper and can boast carved wall plates.