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English Church Architecture -



SOUTHOLT, St. Margaret (TM 193 689)     (March 2009)

(Bedrock:  Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group)


This is a humble little building which was declared redundant about thirty years ago and is now in the care of a local village trust.  It consists of a chancel and a nave with a S. porch, a long, low, cross-gabled N. vestry, and a Victorian belfry supported largely on two W. buttresses (illustrated left).  The chancel is constructed of Flemish-bonded brick with dark headers and was dated by Pevsner to 1907, but it has what appears to be a twelfth century doorway (illustrated right) re-set in the S. wall  (now blocked on the inside), with a simple round arch bearing just a narrow flat chamfer, while west of this there is a triangular-pointed window with a hollow-chamfered surround, and in the E. wall, a three-light window with intersecting tracery, now restored in the head, commensurate with a date of c. 1280.


Windows in the nave consist: on the N. side, of a three-light segmental-pointed window with ogee lights and supermullioned tracery, and two similar two-light windows, one on each side of the vestry; and on the S. side, of two, two-light windows with supermullioned tracery, one each side of the porch, and two, three-light windows further east.   The W. wall (as seen in the photograph above) is lit by a one-light window sandwiched between the two W. buttresses already mentioned, and a segmental-pointed arch that springs from them and supports the open belfry above, with its single bell swinging east/west.  The S. porch is lit by a two-light window on either side, each with a quatrefoil in the head, and the S. wall (shown left) is faced in flint and limestone chequerwork and displays a trefoil-cusped ogee-pointed niche above a restored outer doorway carrying a wave moulding on the outer order and a double wave moulding on the inner, which continue down the jambs after intervening capitals.  The porch inner doorway carries a series of waves without capitals and a hoodmould supported on defaced label stops.


Inside the church, the only really significant feature is the font (shown right, from the northeast), which is so similar to that at neighbouring Redlingfield - albeit that this one is in a better state of preservation - that it must either by the same hand or else a direct copy (or vice versa).  It is likewise decorated around the stem with four lions alternating with four wild men, while the faces of the bowl are similarly carved with four angels holding shields and the symbols of the Evangelists, but if that were not enough, then tellingly, it is also aligned with the faces of the bowl facing the false points of the compass - that is, the points between the cardinal and ordinal directions (west-northwest, west-southwest, south-southwest etc.).  Apart from this, perhaps the only other features of the building that require particularizing are the chancel arch, which carries wave mouldings above semi-octagonal responds, and the nave roof, which looks at least partly mediaeval and which is framed in seven cants with scissor-bracing above the collars, but Pevsner also mentioned the communion rail, which he dated to the mid seventeenth century.