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English Church Architecture -

Suffolk.

 

STANTON, St. John the Baptist (TL 962 738)     (July 2007)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

 

This church today (shown left, from the southeast) is a beautifully maintained ruin in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, standing "roofless and eyeless" (Walter de la Mare) among trees within an equally well-kept churchyard. 

 

Consisting in plan of a W. tower, a nave with a S. porch, and a chancel, it is complete to the top of the walls and retains a chancel arch still intact (shown below right) and a through-passage beneath the fully-preserved tower.  Both the tower and the nave are predominantly Decorated in style, but the chancel is dated 1616 beneath the crow-stepped E. gable, even though all the windows appear to be re-used.  (The date 1858 and the initials “G.B.” beneath, refer to a restoration carried out in that year and to the name of the then rector, the Rev. George Bidwell.)  The E. window with reticulated tracery and only two lights, seems unlikely to have been intended for its present position, but the two-light side windows (of which there is just one either side) with their elegant trefoil-cusped lights and single trefoil in their heads, could well be in their original places, even though it appears the chancel has been shortened, to judge from the position of the surviving priest’s doorway (S. side).  The chancel arch is composed of two flat-chamfered orders springing from semi-octagonal shafts, and the nave windows consist, to the south, of two three-light windows with intersecting tracery and one two-light window with Y-tracery, none of which look convincingly like genuine thirteenth century work, and to the north, of one window like the chancel side windows, a second with reticulated tracery (illustrated below left), and a third from which the tracery has broken away.  The nave, therefore, is four bays long, with its N. and S. doorways positioned in the second bay from the west.  The S. doorway (inside the porch) bears two hollow chamfers running all the way round, without intervening capitals, and the porch outer doorway, which is much more worn, bears a single hollow chamfer supported on shafts, and what was possibly once a roll. 

 

The proud tower is embattled and has tall bell-openings with reticulated tracery (albeit beneath segmental-pointed arches) and huge triple-flat-chamfered arches below, through which the passageway runs north to south. Apparently this was needed as the church was originally built right up against the churchyard’s western boundary.  Such passageways, though uncommon, were a customary solution in similar circumstances and occasional examples occur in most counties.