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English Church Architecture -

Suffolk.

 

MOULTON, St. Peter (TL 700 642)     (October 2004)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Lower Chalk)

 

This is another church attractively situated on a rise, overlooking fields to the south and the village to the west, from which it is separated by a stream crossed by a fifteenth century bridge.  Unfortunately the building itself (shown left, from the west) does not really live up to this setting for it has been sadly over-restored in Third Pointed style, even though the antiquity of its basic masonry is witnessed by the Norman nook-shafts that may still be seen in the southeast and southwest nave angles (where the nave joins the S. aisle). (See the thumbnail, below right.)  There is nothing else of this age, however, either outside or in, and externally the only interesting part of the church is the tower. This is diagonally buttressed in its lower half and rises in three stages to battlements.  The second stage is lit by trefoil-cusped lancets and the bell-stage has transomed bell-openings with trefoil-cusped Y-tracery, set, to north and south, between trefoil-cusped lancets - all of which is suggestive of c. 1300.  The W. window with reticulated tracery was probably inserted a few decades afterwards, and the battlements supported by a nice corbel table may be later still.  As for the rest of the building, this consists of an aisled nave with a S. porch, shallow transepts, and a chancel.  Window traceries are everywhere Victorian and mostly of the supermullioned-drop kind;  arches are predominantly segmental-pointed.  Entry today is through the N. door and not the S. porch, which is slowly falling into disrepair.

 

Once inside, however, the visitor is confronted with some genuine Perpendicular work in the form of the nave arcades.   (See the N. arcade, below right.) These are each formed of two bays plus one, the last arch being separated from the other two by a short wall piece and opening into the transept rather than the aisle - an arrangement that shows the plan of the church is also old, even though it is hard to tell what significance to attach to the slight differences between these arches.  All carry a flat chamfer and a sunk flat chamfer above piers and responds with castellated capitals decorated with fleurons on the under-edges, but their dimensions differ.  This is most evident when the otherwise similar arches from the aisles to the transepts are compared, that on the S. side being a lot shorter but also chunkier, particularly in respect of the capitals.  It all looks like early to mid fifteenth century work but perhaps the N. aisle and transept were constructed a few years later than their southern counterparts or, at least, under the direction of a different mason.  Notice too that the chancel arch, which is naturally taller and wider than either arcade, nevertheless seems to fit best with the S. arcade in style, which also suggests that the new chancel and S. aisle might have been added first to the Norman nave and that a decision to construct a N. aisle came afterwards.  Yet conversely there is no apparent distinction between the string courses above the arcades, both of which display more fleurons and original, undamaged angel corbels that support semicircular shafts rising to the wall posts of the nave roof.  The tower arch consists of two flat-chamfered orders which die into the jambs, a form in keeping with the date for the tower already proposed.

 

Finally, discussion of church furnishings will be very brief for the building contains almost nothing of interest.  The rood stair is built into the wall northwest of the chancel arch, there is a piscina in the chancel S. wall (with credence shelf, four-centred crocketed arch, and fleurons carved on the sides), and the bench-ends to the two front chancel stalls have carved arm rests depicting a unicorn, a hare, a deer and a dog.  The font appears to have been re-cut.