Monday, 15 November 2010

Fyfield, Essex

St Nicholas is an interesting church in that it looks like it was originally cruciform and has been so overly raped by the Victorians that it becomes interesting for the scene of the crime in itself. It's a shame that the policy of the Man is to keep the churches in his care locked.

I rather suspect that it's kept locked because there's eff all to see inside - having said that I rather liked its organic growth and massive central tower, it was probably amazing in its heyday.

ST NICHOLAS. An interesting but not an attractive exterior. Norman nave and crossing-tower, the tower partly rebuilt in brick in the C19. Weatherboarded top with short octagonal spire. N arcade of the C13 with circular piers and double-chamfered arches. The capitals are neither round nor square. S arcade, later C13, with octagonal piers and double-hollow-chamfered arches. The chancel belongs to the Dec style of the early C14. The E window, though externally new has an inner surround with alternating diaper and fleuron motifs. Hood-mould on head-stops. Sedilia with polygonal Purbeck marble shafts between the seats, cusped arches and big, rather bad head-stops. Between two of the arches the three balls, the symbol of St Nicholas. E of the Sedilia, also with cusped arches, not a Double Piscina, but a Piscina and a Credence. The chancel arch is C19, the W arch of the crossing tower late C14. Of the windows the blocked E window of the N aisle deserves notice, because of the pretty diagonally placed niche to its l.: C15 work. - FONT. Square, of Purbeck marble, late C12, with the familiar motif of a row of (six) shallow blank round-headed arches on two sides, and on the two others a row of three fleurs-de-lis. - PLATE. Cup and Paten on foot of 1634; large Cup of 1699.

St Nicholas (2)

St Nicholas (4)

FYFIELD. Its main street winds with the willow-shaded River Roding, and by this stream stands the church the Normans built in an ambitious way, with a central tower 17 feet square. Two of its stages alone remain, a wooden lantern and a short spire soaring over them. There are Roman tiles in the nave, and peeping through an opening in the turret of the tower we see how the builders shaped these tiles into the round newel of the staircase. The Normans also fashioned the font. The 13th century men built the aisles and the handsome arcades, but the supreme beauty of the church is the work of 14th century masons. The chancel is rich in their craftsmanship. Four windows show the graceful lines of their tracery; the deep piscina and the pillared sedilia show their mastery of design, and their exquisite detail. On the sedilia are four perfect heads, a woman in a peaked cap, two men with curly hair, and a bishop. Headstops are over all the windows, and running round the east window is a rear arch with faces of people on one side and beasts on the other. About a hundred years after this work was finished another mason set to out rival it. He had only to carve a niche for a statue, but its canopy, its ribbed vault, the bosses, and the little buttresses, are perfect. The timber screen with painted shields, erected in 1914, adds greatly to the beauty of the church.

Flickr set.

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