Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Coton, Cambridgeshire

St Peter and Coton are lovely. A small church but one with great character, there's not a lot of ornamentation but it exudes charm.

This Norman chapel was a simple two-celled building of nave and chancel. Though dependent on Grantchester it was of some importance, for the limestone marble font with its chevron and arcade decoration is also Norman. Little remains of the twelfth-century church except part of the chancel walls and the south-east corner of the nave, where the carved shaft is still visible outside. The small windows in the chancel are Norman, the south one re-set in a rebuilt wall.

The Norman chancel may have been smaller than it is now, and the nave was no longer than at present. Between nave and chancel was a smaller (round-headed?) arch.

ST PETER. Pebble and stone rubble. But the chancel is ashlar and Norman -see the small windows nook-shafted inside and outside and with fat roll-mouldings (cf. St Mary Magdalene, Barnwell, Cambridge). The E window is C19 imitation Perp. At the E end of the S aisle the shafted corner of the Norman nave can still be detected. The W tower Perp, the aisle windows and porches also. But the aisles themselves are older, see the arcades. That on the S side (three bays) has typical early C14 piers, quatrefoil with thin shafts in the diagonals and double-chamfered arches. The N arcade is later. It has semi-polygonal piers towards nave and aisles with arch mouldings dying into them and attached shafts with capitals only towards the arch openings. - FONT. Square, Norman, with zigzag arches on typical heads in proļ¬le, Instruments of Christ’s Passion, keys, the arms of Scrope, an eagle, a triskele etc. - CHANDELIER. Brass, probably Dutch C18. - PLATE. Cup of 1570.

St Peter (4)

Poppyhead (2)

Andrew Downes 1627

COTON. Like a shepherd with his flock this church looks down from a hill on the road which goes from Cambridge into Hunts.The high stone by the stream may be the shaft of an old cross. Here still are relics of the days of Norman England when the church was built, for in its walls are two charming windows by Norman masons with deep splays, roll mouldings in the arches, and shafts inside and out. There is a fine built-up Norman arch, and the great square font they used. In the Norman windows are fragments of ancient glass in black and gold.

For the rest this compact little church with its tower, its short spire, and two porches, is all from the 15th century, the north porch with its stout timbered roof, the south with its stone seats. The south arcade is 14th century. The great east and west arches have both been here 500 years, but the odd-shaped chancel was made new last century, keeping the links with the Normans. There is a low window in one wall blocked with a stone wheel carved with a rose in the middle and a sword across the spokes.

The oak screen has much of the work of a medieval carpenter, with Jacobean gates, but is spoiled by the organ over it. The stalls are also Jacobean with later carving, and a Jacobean carpenter’s work is in a table, the pulpit, the reading desk, and the old nave benches.

Here lies a learned man who translated the Apocrypha for the Authorised Version of the Bible, Dr Andrew Downes. His tablet has winged angels, a head, skull, and cross bones, and a spade and a pick. A brass plate tells us that Richard Hobson sang in the choir for half-a-century.

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