English Church Architecture -
NAUGHTON, St. Mary (TM 022 490) (July 2012)
(Bedrock: Neogene, Red Crag Formation)
This little church is one of a group of similar buildings strung out in a line between Bildeston and Ipswich, where the principal work is Early English, the towers are unbuttressed, and the dedication is almost invariably to St. Mary. The thirteenth century features at Naughton include three, three-light windows with intersecting tracery, one on each side of the nave and one in the E. wall of the chancel (see the photograph of the church from the southeast, above), and a two-light window with plate tracery in the chancel S. wall (illustrated in close-up, below left), formed of a pair of lancets with a quatrefoil above and between. This has a hollow around the top, within, and a lowered sill that may once have functioned as a sedilia. There is also a little lancet-arched, contemporary piscina, immediately to the east. The tower is constructed of flint and pebble rubble and rises in two stages to Y-traceried bell-openings to the south and east, and the tower arch to the nave is composed of three flat-chamfered orders that die into the jambs. None of this constitutes the earliest work in the building, however, because the font is late Norman, albeit now sadly mutilated (see the photograph below right): it stands in front of the blocked N. doorway and must originally have been square, for the shallow decoration on the bowl, formed of intersecting round arches, only occurs on the cardinal faces, showing it to have been cut into an octagonal shape at a subsequent date.
Post thirteenth century work includes the three other windows in the nave and chancel, all of which have been renewed, composed of one with a straightened reticulation unit in the head in the nave N. wall, to the west of the blocked doorway, a trefoil-cusped lancet in the nave S. wall, west of the porch, and a two-light window in the S. wall of the chancel, with supermullioned tracery and split "Y"s. The first design, which is characteristic of the late fourteenth century, is also seen in the W. wall of the tower and the tower bell-openings to the north and west, which may indicate the date when the shallow battlements were added. The chancel N. wall is blank except for a renewed priest's doorway with a little hollow around it. The rendering on the chancel, nave and porch may first have been applied during a nineteenth century restoration, when the Welsh slates on the chancel roof may have replaced thatch. The porch is windowless and has a carved bargeboard over the gable and a tie-beam roof. The chancel is fully the width of the nave and only a few inches higher. The Perpendicular chancel arch has a complex profile formed mainly of waves, and an order of semicircular shafts attached to the jambs, with nicely moulded capitals. (See the internal view of the church below left.) A recessed arch in the nave N. wall, immediately west of the chancel arch, appears to be the remains of an entrance to a rood stair. The nave roof is constructed in three bays and ceiled above the collars, but the wall plates, moulded tie beams, octagonal king posts and collar purlin are all exposed and appear to be original. Other features include two small fragments of wall paintings on the nave N. wall, one of which appears to be the upper portion of a St. Christopher (below right), and four old benches on each side of the nave at the back.