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English Church Architecture -



WHATFIELD, St. Margaret (TM 025 466)     (September 2012)

(Bedrock:  Upper Cretaceous, Upper Chalk)

This is a pretty little building, notwithstanding the concrete rendering, for which credit is due to the roofs of red tile (and to those of the tower and its stair turret in particular) and the homely little porch in English-bonded Tudor brick.  (See the photograph of the church from the southeast, above, and the thumbnail showing the tower from the south, below left.)  The chancel and nave appear to date from the late thirteenth century:  the S. wall of the nave is pierced by a lancet to the west of the porch, and a renewed Y-traceried and narrow three-light intersecting traceried window to the east, the latter uncusped but with quatrefoils in the intersections, commensurate with c.1300;  the chancel is lit predominantly by windows in Decorated style (with reticulated tracery), but that these are later replacements appears to be confirmed by a N. window with Y-tracery.  The nave is separated from the chancel to the south, by a buttress and adjoining projection housing a rood stair, which also has a tiled cap.


Inside the church, it is the carpentry that is most interesting.  The gallery over the west end of the nave was described by Pevsner as "probably c. 1700" ;  supported on two iron columns, it partially obscures a tower arch bearing two hollow chamfers, supported on corbels.  In the northeast corner of the nave, the backboard with its conventional blank arch, and hexagonal tester with its carved frieze and pendants, do not appear to have been intended for the plain square pulpit to which they are now attached:  the former are undoubtedly Jacobean while the latter appears to be Georgian.  (See the photograph below left.)  George I is also present in the royal arms hanging over the N. door.  The old pews in the north side of the nave (but not the nineteenth century ones to the south) could also belong to his reign, although at least one (of different design) is older as it has the date "1589" carved on it.  The communion rail (below right) resembles the gallery balustrade and could be contemporary or possibly even by the same hand (though it is not identical).  The not very successful font consists of a plain octagonal bowl supported on a central circular shaft surrounded by eight octagonal shafts at the angles - a design that proves as cluttered in practice as it sounds likely to be in theory.   Finally, the church contains a single large monument with a Latin inscription on the S. wall of the nave, commemorating William Vessey (d. 1699) and his wife Elizabeth.