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English Church Architecture -



OLD NEWTON, St. Mary (TM 059 625)     (July 2006)

(Bedrock:  Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group)


The church consists of a W. tower, a nave with a S. porch, and a chancel with a N. vestry, and seems likely to be entirely fourteenth century in date, even if it is not wholly so in style.  It is not one of the more interesting churches in the area, however, and the interest it does have lies mostly in the exterior.  The W. tower is diagonally buttressed and rises in three stages to battlements and Y-traceried bell-openings.  The W. window is also Y-traceried and the simple W. doorway bears a single flat chamfer, but the ground stage to the north and south is pierced by a very small, ogee-headed light, which if original (and they appear to be), suggest the date is c. 1320 at the earliest.  The E. wall displays the remains of an earlier gable line, showing the nave roof to have been lowered significantly at some point, even though it is still quite high for an aisleless building of this width.  The nave is lit by three, two-light windows each side, forming identical pairs, two east of the S. porch and N. doorway opposite, and the third to the west, respectively from the east (and respectively from right to left [sic] below): (i) ogee-arched, with cinquefoil-cusped ogee-headed lights and tracery formed of two daggers and two mouchettes above and between; (ii) segmental-pointed, with drop tracery featuring a cusped octfoil; and (iii) two-centred, with double subarcuated, flattened ogee lights and tracery formed of two large mouchettes, a dagger and a quatrefoil.  Most of this would fit a date around 1340 but the drop tracery of the central windows suggests they could are rather later - perhaps c. 1375.  The S. porch has blocked side windows and a niche above an outer doorway bearing wave mouldings and a flat chamfer springing from semi-octagonal shafts.  The chancel N. wall is pierced by a window like the eastern pair of nave windows, the E. window is modern and very ugly, and the equally bad S. windows are made of wood and probably Victorian.


The church interior is very plain and will not detain the visitor long.  There is a triple sedilia with equal trefoil-cusped arches in the chancel S. wall, and a piscina in similar style beyond.  The E. wall has a niche on either side of the window, and the surrounds of the window itself also appear to be old, suggesting that whatever was here before, it was no taller than the present mean affair.  The easternmost window in the S. wall of the nave has an order of semicircular shafts at the sides, mouldings at the top, and a stepped, lowered sill, which surely must indicate this too once served as a sedilia.  The chancel arch bears a flat-chamfered order rising from semi-octagonal responds, and a continuous moulding around the outside of that, consisting of a recessed quarter-circle.  The font is carved with four lions and four angels holding shields, which alternate on the faces of the bowl, while the stem displays eight figures (woodwoses?), now with their heads broken off.