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English Church Architecture -



SAPISTON, St. Andrew (TL 921 743)     (July 2007)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


Standing half a mile southeast of All Saints’ church, Honington, it comes as no surprise to find this building in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, but certainly there is evidence of their care here and the church is made more memorable by its admirable setting, standing well apart, among meadows, and away from any road.  It is not a large structure, consisting only of a chancel, nave, S. porch and tower, but its antiquity is witnessed by the splendid Norman S. doorway inside the porch (shown left), which is formed of a round arch of three orders, the outer two supported on octagonal shafts with scalloped capitals and decorated with a non-standard moulding looking rather like repeated tongues.  This is likely to be contemporary with the basic fabric of the nave and chancel, but the remaining features of the building are the work of c. 1300 or, in the case of the chancel E. window and one nave S. window, rather later in Decorated times.  The unbuttressed tower has a W. window with cusped Y-tracery and rises in three stages to Y-traceried bell-openings and battlements.  The nave is lit by one cusped Y-traceried window each side, and the two-light S. window already alluded to, which has ogee-pointed lights beneath a segmental arch.  The chancel has two trefoil-cusped lancets to the north, a third to the south, and a three-light E. window with reticulated tracery (shown right).  The small square openings between the nave and chancel to the north are redundant now but must once have lit the former rood stair.  The S. porch has small square-headed side windows with ogee-pointed lights and an outer doorway bearing two flat chamfers.  This fits approximately with the two fully Decorated windows, although these themselves may not quite be contemporary, with perhaps the E. window coming first, from around 1330, and the S. window being inserted later to judge by its segmental arch,  around 1350.  (However, see also the discussion about the apparent early use of the segmental arch in this area under the entries for St. Mary’s, Coney Weston, and All Saints’, Stanton.)  Indeed, Roy Tricker, generally a very authoritative writer, preferred to describe the S. window as “late fourteenth century” in his church guide of 2005, which it might well be, though there seem to be no particular grounds for his similar dating of the porch.   


The interior of the building is light and airy notwithstanding the relative lack of windows, due to the use of plain glass throughout.  The tower arch bears one flat and one hollow chamfer.  There is no chancel arch but an angle piscina in the chancel S. wall is notable (illustrated left), formed of a large trefoil-cusped arch facing north and a much smaller one facing northwest.  The doorway to the former rood stair can be seen in the N. wall between the nave and chancel, beginning some two feet from the ground (60 cm.), but there is nothing to show where it opened above. The only furnishings remaining in the building are the wooden reredos, the pulpit, a few wooden benches, and the font of octagonal section, chamfered towards the base.  They are not of much interest but the nave roof is better, being scissor-braced above collars, albeit now with the addition of three ugly Victorian hammerbeam trusses  Finally, the nave N. wall displays the barely discernable remains of a wall painting in red line, perhaps showing St. Edmund’s martyrdom, while further to the west hang the royal arms of George II (right) in a condition not greatly better.