The Chancel

Originally, the East end of the church culminated in an apse or perhaps a square East end shorter than the one we now have. The higher level existed in the first church as evidenced by the bases in the choir. So the altar would have been in the apse, a little to the West of its current position.Here the scene changes.

There is an abrupt end to the Romanesque, and a clear adoption of a new style, Early English. As in many parishes, the chancel was extended in the early thirteenth century to accommodate the more elaborate ceremonial that was introduced at the time.  Later, at about 1250, the delicate but elaborate sedilia were added – indicating that there could have been two assistants with the priest at mass. We cannot tell what the east wall would have looked like, because in 1864 it was covered by a reredos, executed in a machine tooled Victorian version of Gothic.

The Chancel

The Chancel

It may be that the church was dedicated to St Mary the Virgin when this chancel was built. Churches were often rededicated when they were enlarged. By the thirteenth century some of the more violent aspects of earlier times were passing, and a gentler age of courtly love, and of devotion to the Virgin Mary, ensued.

At this point in the church, the sturdy masculine architecture of the Romanesque gives place to the feminine grace of the Gothic. This is not high Gothic, but the earliest form of English Gothic, simple tentative work, probably of local craftsmen.

On the north wall there is a beautiful thirteenth century circular carving of the Lamb of God. This is the original head from the churchyard cross that stands by the yew tree outside. It was discovered in the 1960’s buried in the Rectory garden, and was brought inside. It had already been replaced in 1858 by a new carving, which was set on the shaft of the cross.

Lamb of God - carving in the chancel

Lamb of God