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English Church Architecture -



STANSFIELD, All Saints (TL 784 526)     (October 2001)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)


This is a modest but attractive church, consisting in plan of only a W.  tower, nave, chancel and S. porch.  The tower and the nave are embattled and the S. porch has crocketed pinnacles at the southeast and southwest angles.


The windows are an assortment.  The very tall three-light nave windows are Perpendicular and supermullioned, but the chancel windows are earlier and consist of an attractive three-light, supermullioned E. window with double-cusped lights and blank niches widely spaced at either side, and two-light chancel side windows (see the S. window illustrated left) with groups of four daggers in the heads arranged to form a vertical cross like those at Cowlinge.  This last design seems to have emerged tentatively around the opening of the fourteenth century, and to have continued, with slight variations, for over a century.  Thus compare the windows in the chancel N. wall at Stanningfield (where the lights are trefoil-cusped and appear to pre-date the coming of the ogee c. 1320 and where the traceried wheel in the window head consists of bifoils rather than quatrefoils), with those at Lidgate and Wickhambrook (which retain the bifoils but have cinquefoil-cusped, ogee-pointed lights), at Badwell Ash, Nedging and Stoke-by-Nayland (which are like the present examples except that the lights are cinquefoil-cusped), and at Acton (which has similar tracery beneath a four-centred arch).  Some of these differences must surely represent the evolution of the style over time (perhaps even leading on to Reginald Ely’s use of cruciform lobing set diagonally at Burwell in Cambridgeshire, c. 1460), while others will inevitably reflect only the different ideas of different masons.


The porch outer doorway has roll mouldings all the way round without intervening capitals;  inside, it has a nice couple roof and the inner doorway has a series of complex Perpendicular mouldings.  The tower arch has four flat chamfers around it, of which the innermost is interrupted  by  capitals,  and  the  chancel  arch bears two flat chamfers, the inner springing from semicircular responds.  These arches could be Early English or early Decorated.


The church contains some attractive woodwork of which two items must be mentioned briefly.  The pulpit (shown below left)  is Jacobean and although the square panels display the usual round-headed arches, they are decorated here with a serpent scroll motif.  The chancel screen (two panels of which are shown right), now only four feet high, has been reconstructed from the original work.