Friday, 27 March 2020

St. Peter & St. Paul in Mansfield - Part 3

A view east along the nave from the tower

I finished my exploration of the exterior of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Mansfield by looking at the headstops on the outside of the south porch and, once inside, I noticed that those on the south door had lost a part of their noses despite the protection from the elements. 

Headstops on the south door

Before stepping into the interior, I noticed that there are a couple of fragments of mediaeval grave slabs with crosses – both made from the yellow dolomitic sandstone – and I later discovered that more are found in the church. 

Mediaeval grave slabs in the porch

My first impression, when entering the church, was that the tall arcades, with quatrefoil columns, were C15 in date and they reminded me of the arcades that I had seen earlier in the year at Tideswell in Derbyshire. 

The south arcade

I don’t have a Pevsner guide for Nottinghamshire, and Historic England listings often don’t give much information but, from the previous 3 years of investigating mediaeval churches, I was now more confident in recognising various architectural styles and dates. 

A view west along the nave from the chancel

The Southwell and Nottingham Church History Project website, however, does provide some useful historical information, especially the fact that the church was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1304, and provides useful reference points for dating the various architectural elements. 

The arch to the north chapel

The chancel arch has responds and mouldings that match those of the arcades and it therefore seems clear that the chancel was built at the same time; however, the arches and arcades that link the C15 chapels to the chancel and the aisles have octagonal sections to the piers and responds

The tower arch and old roofline

At the other end of the nave, the round tower arch and the opening above it are typically Norman features and the steep old roofline marks the original position of the roof. Inside the tower, there is a round arched doorway leading to the spiral staircase and the internal splay to the slit window reveals very thick walls.

The west window in the tower

Monday, 23 March 2020

St. Peter & St. Paul in Mansfield - Part 2

A general view from the south-east

Carrying on with my investigation of the exterior of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Mansfield, I quickly walked round the modern single storey vestry, dated 1907, whose most interesting feature is the use of Red Mansfield stone in its south-east door. 

A general view of the east end

The 5-light pointed arch east window has fine restored Decorated Gothic geometric tracery, with the south chapel having the same style of windows and large squared masonry as the north chapel - both of these being built c.1475. 

The south elevation of the south chapel

Looking closely at the stonework, the surface of yellowish dolomitic sandstone is seen to be deeply weathered along the irregular beds of green clay and many of the individual blocks have been restored quite recently. Furthermore, it appears that blocks with a reddish colour have been restored with Red Mansfield stone. 

Weathered quoins on the organ chamber

Moving on to the organ chamber, which projects from the north elevation, its east window, general masonry and details of the parapet suggest that this is also a C15 addition but it is in fact an addition by Hodgson Fowler in 1902. 

The organ chamber

The north aisle, according to the Southwell and Nottingham Church History Project entry for this church, was added in the C15 but the restored flat headed windows with reticulated tracery perhaps suggests an earlier date. Similarly, the walling is composed of roughly squared coursed blocks that are similar to that of the north aisle, which dates to the C14 and earlier. 

A detail of masonry in the north aisle

Looking up at the clerestory, which was added in the C15, the four round arched 3-light Perpendicular Gothic style windows, with flat heads, have all been restored along with extensive areas of ashlar masonry – suggesting the stonework here was in a particularly bad condition before the Victorian restoration. 

A general view of the north aisle and clerestory

The porch was rebuilt during the 1870-71 restoration and a Jurassic oolitic limestone has been used for the external arch, as with many very mediaeval churches built out of dolomitic limestone that were restored by Victorian architects. 

The south porch

The finer grained Jurassic oolitic limestone that has typically been used has often been susceptible to deep weathering, especially when located downwind of heavy industry; however, coarse, shelly Jurassic limestones, as seen in the headstops, are renowned for their durability and it is surprising to see that the details here have disappeared.

An eroded Jurassic oolitic limestone headstop

Saturday, 21 March 2020

St. Peter & St. Paul in Mansfield - Part 1

A general view of the south elevation

Finally arriving at the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, after a good look at the geology and historic buildings of Mansfield, I started my investigation at the tower and made my way around the church in a clockwise direction. 

A view of the tower from Church Side

Standing on the opposite side of Church Side it is quite easy to see that there is a distinct break in the style of masonry, between the second and third stages of the tower and the much later spire, which Pevsner dates to 1669. 

Variation in the masonry of the tower

The lowest two stages, with its round arched windows that are obviously Norman, are built in coursed rubble masonry with large quoins; however, the C14 upper stage, with Decorated Gothic windows, has alternating courses of normally bedded and face bedded stones, with no quoins. 

The west elevation

Although pale yellow dolomitic sandstone is used throughout the tower, with occasional reddened stones in the Norman masonry, those of the upper stage appear to be much softer and more susceptible to weathering, particularly seen in the delamination of face bedded blocks. 

The west window of the north aisle

Moving round to the north aisle, the 3-light west window has a four centred arch and Perpendicular Gothic tracery and, examining the surrounding masonry very closely, quoins to both sides of the current window indicate an earlier opening that has been infilled. 

The lancet window in the north aisle

The masonry continues with the same pattern in the walling of the west end of the north aisle, where there is a C13 lancet window, but the adjacent porch was rebuilt as part of a major restoration in 1870-71. 

A general view of the north elevation

The rest of the north aisle has C13 walling as seen to the west of the porch, although the stonework beneath the window sills is modern and retains sharp profiles and unweathered surfaces. The windows are both in the geometric Decorated Gothic style, with the 2-light right window being original and the left 3-light window restored. 

Geometric Decorated Gothic windows in the north aisle

Continuing to the north chapel, there are several clues to its later C15 date. The buttress masks a joint where larger blocks of ashlar have not been bonded with the earlier roughly squared and coursed masonry, the various mouldings are discontinuous and the stone itself has a distinct yellow tinge. 

The north chapel

The windows to the chapel are square headed, with tracery that is very similar in design to the west end of the north aisle. A quick inspection of its east end reveals another four centre arched window, although the tracery is obscured by acrylic sheeting, and there is no bonding of the masonry with the chancel.

The east end of the north chapel

Friday, 20 March 2020

An Exploration of Mansfield - Part 4

A general view in the Bridge Street Conservation Area

The last part of my exploration of Mansfield, having had a good look at West Gate and a substantial part of the Bridge Street Conservation Area, was in Bridge Street itself and the surrounding area. 

St. Peter's House

First to catch my eye was the late C17 St. Peter’s House, a simple square house of five bays, with dormer windows to the front elevation and a hipped Welsh slate roof. The front elevation is built in White Mansfield ashlar, with the side and rear elevations comprising roughly squared and coursed masonry and a high proportion of red stone. 

An exposure of dolomitic limestone on Toothill Lane

While walking up Toothill Lane, to take a photograph of its rear, I came across two small outcrops of yellow/pink dolomitic sandstone that are exposed on the roadside. Here, they are generally thin bedded and flaggy and there has been slight flexure in the rock, to leave the beds slightly tilted. 

An exposure of dolomitic limestone at Rock Court

A short distance to the east, another outcrop forms the foundations of a retaining wall but, although of the same colour, the beds were much more massive and displayed quite large scale cross-bedding, however, there was no crossing of the culverted River Maun here and I could only take photos with the camera lens at full zoom. 

The rear of 1,2 and 3 Rock Court

Stopping briefly to photograph the rear of Rock Court, where there is a high proportion of red sandstone used for the walling, I headed back to Bridge Street and had a closer look at the River Maun, which disappears beneath the late C17 Bridge Tavern

The Bridge Tavern

I was curious about the construction details of the old corn mill, listed as the Town Mill public house, as seen right next to the River Maun. Here, a series of columns presumably both take the weight of the wall above and allow previously diverted water to flow back into the river. 

A construction detail at the Town Mill public house

On the opposite side of the road, Thirteen Hair and Beauty Lounge now occupies 13-17 Bridge Street, which the Historic England listing dates back to the late C16, although the fa├žade seen from Bridge Street dates to 1763 – as seen in the painted sundial. 

The sundial on 13-17 Bridge Street

With time moving on and with the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, I finished my brief investigation of the historic buildings of Mansfield at Bridge Street Methodist Church, dated 1864. The church is built in an Italianate style in White Mansfield stone, with Red Mansfield used for alternate voussoirs in the first floor windows.

Bridge Street Methodist Church

Thursday, 19 March 2020

An Exploration of Mansfield - Part 3

A general view of Church Street

From arriving in Mansfield to finding the railway viaduct at Albert Street, it had taken no more than 70 minutes, yet I had already encountered some very interesting geology and numerous historic buildings – including various houses on West Gate and public and commercial buildings in and around Market Place

A building site on Midworth Street

Carrying on down Midworth Street, I stopped briefly at a building site where the drainage was being laid and the red colour of the excavated material suggested that the bedrock here is similar to that seen at the old Sill’s Quarry

A view of the railway viaduct from Midworth Street

Further down the hill, which eventually leads to the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Old Maltings, c.1800, has an expanse of White Mansfield stone walling, which displays the characteristic weathering pattern that is seen in this stone. 

The Old Maltings

This dull yellow dolomitic sandstone, which is a sandy variation of the Cadeby Formation, is interspersed with irregularly distributed beds of green clay that differentially weathers to leave a texture that is reminiscent of old, crinkled leather. 

Differential weathering in White Mansfield stone

On Church Side, the Old Grammar School has an interesting construction history. Founded in 1551, it was subsequently rebuilt 1714-19 and then restored and extended in 1851, with further additions at the end of the C19. 

The Old Grammar School

At the junction of Midworth Street and Church Side there is the very fine Church House. Dated to c.1775, it is built in Red Mansfield sandstone ashlar – the only large house built entirely in this variety of stone that I recall seeing in Mansfield. 

Church House

Apparently, Red Mansfield was considered to be more susceptible to weathering than the White Mansfield and was so used preferentially indoors and in small quantities for ornamental effect on the outside of buildings. 

A view up Church Street towards Market Place

On Church Street, leading up to Market Place, there are several more Grade II Listed buildings that contribute more to group value of the Conservation Area than for their own individual architectural merit.

36 Church Street
Having by now had a very good walk around the historic parts of Mansfield, I then took a couple of photos of the modern sculpture, by David Annand, at the bottom of Church Street before heading off to see even more historic buildings on Bridge Street.

Amphitheatre by David Annand

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

An Exploration of Mansfield - Part 2

The Mansfield coat of arms

Continuing my exploration of Mansfield, at the end of West Gate I was very surprised to see its very large market square – bigger than any that I can recall seeing in Britain – which is lined with numerous historic buildings constructed in White Mansfield stone

A general view of Market Place

On market day, the numerous canopies and marquees tend to detract from the architectural quality and the magnificent Bentinck Memorial at its centre; however, there is still a distinct feel of a once very prosperous town, although coal mining and other manufacturing industries upon which Mansfield relied have now disappeared, leaving a high unemployment rate. 

The pediment frieze on the Moot Hall

The old Moot Hall, dated 1752, occupies the north corner and although parts have been remodelled in the C20, including the replacement of the columns on which it was once set, it still retains its ornate pediment frieze

A general view of 1 Market Place

On the corner of Market Place and Church Street stands a late C19 former bank, now a public house, which is in the Baroque Revival style. Rising from a dark grey Rubislaw granite plinth, there are Doric half columns and rusticated masonry is extensively used on the ground and first floors with a copper roofed dome on the corner. 

23A Market Place

Although not listed, the HSBC bank on the corner with Leeming Street has the Mansfield coat of arms on its Market Place elevation and another old bank at 23A Market Place has windows on the first floor that have alternating voussoirs in red and white Mansfield stone. 

Views of the Bentinck Memorial

The Bentinck Memorial seemed to be a meeting place for various undesirable characters, as I had encountered at the monuments in Manchester and, stopping only to take a few quick photos, I carried on to the south-west side of Market Place, where I encountered the old Court House, now also converted into a public house. 

The Court House

Next to this is the Old Town Hall, built in 1836 in the Greek Revival style with a portico that contains distinctly tapering columns and triglyphs on the frieze above. The ground floor is rusticated and there is a raised parapet with a clock face on scrolls.

The Old Town Hall

Leaving Market Place, I then headed off towards Mansfield Bus Station, where I encountered yet another pub that was formerly a bank, c.1900, which was scaffolded and I then got my first close up view of the railway viaduct that crosses the eastern part of the old town.

A view of the railway viaduct from Albert Street