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English Church Architecture -

Suffolk.

 

WICKHAM SKEITH, St. Andrew (TM 099 693)     (July 2006)

(Bedrock:  Neogene to Quaternary, Crag Group)

 

Except in one regard, this is one of the less interesting mediaeval churches in the area, consisting of a stolid W. tower, a nave with N. and S. porches, and a chancel, of which the first is Decorated and the rest, Perpendicular.  The diagonally-buttressed tower rises in two stages to two-light reticulated bell-openings and battlements.  However, the tall nave and chancel windows appear contemporary with each other and may be the work of master mason Hawes of Occold (fl. 1410-40) by virtue of their similarity to windows at Bildeston, Debenham and Occold in particular.  (See the entry on St. Mary Magdalene's church, Bildeston, for a more detailed explanation of this.)  They are segmental-pointed with supermullioned tracery and split “Y”s, above just two-lights in the N. and S. walls of the chancel, but above three stepped lights in the chancel E. wall and nave (see the example in the nave S. wall, left), where each light is crossed by two castellated supertransoms, one immediately on top of the ogee archlet and the other, about eighteen inches (45 cm.) below.  The tall S. porch has a S. front (below right) faced with flushwork arches in three tiers on either side of the doorway, and by plain knapped flint above, separated into two large sections by a narrow, vertical panel of stone surrounding an even narrower central opening. The N. porch (below left) is covered wholly in flushwork, again consisting of three tiers of arches on each side of the doorway, but now with a fourth tier over the top above a plain stone frieze, a canopied niche in the centre, and battlements above this, with flushwork arches in the merlons and shields in stars beneath the embrasures.  The N. porch windows are similar to the chancel side windows but have the addition of little quatrefoils in the apices. 

 

Internally, the church is very plain with almost the only features of note being the three niches cut into in the nave E. wall, north of the chancel arch, and the rood stair, which is further north again.  The chancel arch springs from head corbels while the tower communicates with the nave through a small flat-chamfered doorway only.  The octagonal font is badly worn and it is hard to make out what Pevsner described as the signs of the Evangelists and “four Wild Men” set out around the stem.  The only woodwork of significance is the hammerbeam nave roof constructed in four bays but,  predictably, the figures have been sawn off.