Friday, 31 January 2020

St. John the Baptist Adel - Part 3

A detail of the memorial to the Audus Hirst family

When researching my trip to Adel, I consulted the British Listed Buildings website to discover places of interest other than St. John’s church and, once I had seen its exterior and interior, I went to explore the memorials in its churchyard. 

A general view of the churchyard

Approximately 30 metres to the south of the church is the memorial to the Audus Hirst family, dated 1884, consisting of a Carrara marble winged figure standing on a plinth, which is enclosed by a temple like structure with columns and Corinthian capitals, an entablature and a pediment with a carved shield and foliage. 

The memorial to the Audus Hirst family

Next to this is the memorial to Eliza and William Hill, also dating to 1884 with later inscriptions, built in gritstone and comprising a cross in a Norman style arch, which is flanked by angels. 

The memorial to Eliza and William Hill

While walking through the churchyard, you can’t help notice that all of the Yorkstone paving slabs have had a cross cut into them, which might look very incongruous but have the purpose of making them identifiable - if stolen and offered to vendors of salvaged building materials. 

Yorkstone slabs marked with a cross

St. John the Baptist’s church has had several incidents of theft, which includes a Grade II Listed sundial, a pillar piscina and most notably the original C12 Sanctuary Ring from the south door. 

A replica of the Sanctuary Ring

Continuing around to the north side of the church, the memorial to Ronald and Joan Lambert caught my eye, with a simple plaque set on a large block of Carboniferous Limestone that is in its naturally weathered state and could be a small glacial erratic

The memorial to Ronald and Joan Lambert

An elaborate memorial 30 metres to the north of the church, dated 1846, commemorates Zinai Wormald, the wife of John Wormald of Cookridge Hall, and is built in gritstone with intricate Norman style decoration that reflects the architecture of the church.

The memorial to Zinai Wormald

Another intricately carved monument, which surprisingly is not listed, is formed with a large chest to the base, with trefoil headed arcades and pink Peterhead granite columns with foliated ornamentation to the capitals. Above this are rows of acanthus leaves and crockets and a roof like top, with three gables to one end that, on plan, form a cross. 

An ornate monument

Following the path to the south-west corner of the churchyard, there is a collection of miscellaneous relics that are reminder of Adel’s ancient history. 500 metres to the north of the church, a Roman fort was built c. AD 200 next to the road from Ilkley to Tadcaster and a small quern making operation was founded in the area. 

Stone coffins in the churchyard

Roman altar stones and Anglo-Saxon gravestones found in the area are now in Leeds City Museum but, although I didn’t see it, there is apparently a Roman capital here; however, the stone coffins – supposedly both Anglo-Saxon and Norman – are clearly seen, as is the section of a mediaeval font and various grindstones from the old Adel Mill

Grindstones in the churchyard

Leaving the churchyard, on my way to see Adel War Memorial, I encountered the mounting block on Church Lane, which probably dates to the mid C18 and is related to a stable of Cookridge Hall, which once stood on the opposite side of the road.

The mounting block on Church Lane

Thursday, 30 January 2020

St. John the Baptist Adel - Part 2

A centaur fighting a dragon

Once inside St. John the Baptist’s church, I was greeted by a volunteer and then bought the comprehensive illustrated church guide, which is essential for viewing its principal attraction – the elaborately carved chancel arch

A view west along the nave

Before having a good look at this, I quickly walked around the rest of the church, which is plain and without features, except for a row of corbels high on the west wall, and possesses a single small marble wall memorial. 

Old roof lines above the chancel arch

Its thick walls, which are typical of Norman churches, are well exposed by the splays that surround the slit windows and there are variations in the colour and pattern of the masonry above the chancel arch, which indicate previous roof lines. 

The chancel arch

The font, which may be original, is best known for its wooden cover, thought to be by Eric Gill, but it is the spectacular chancel arch, with semi-circular responds and two orders of shafts to the west side, which is the highlight of the church. 

A detail of the beakheads

The arch, from its centre outwards, is described by Pevsner and Historic England as being composed of intricate chevrons, billets and beakheads – with only the official church guide by Val Compton attempting to describe the gruesome depictions seen in the latter, which include babies being devoured by various figures that are interpreted as devils. 

A detail of the beakheads

On the capitals, there are further carvings that represent the Baptism and Crucifixion of Christ, with figurative sculpture including a centaur with a bow fighting dragons, a horseman with a lance and various beasts. 

The Baptism and Crucifixion of Christ

The east side of the chancel arch is not decorated, except for two beakheads which can be seen on the springing to the south side. These are cited by Pevsner as proof that the sculptural decoration was applied in situ

A detail of a capital

As a photographer, I would like to spend more time taking photos of the beakheads with a tripod and dedicated lighting to bring out the detail of the stone carvings, although, using my Canon PowerShot G16, I did manage to take a set of photos that suits my immediate purposes.

A detail of a capital

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

St. John the Baptist Adel - Part 1

A detail of the corbel-frieze

Starting with a trip to Bolsover, I had a good look at north-east Derbyshire during July 2019, culminating with the church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Eckington, but I turned my attention to West Yorkshire for my next day out.

A general view of the south elevation

A year earlier, a friend had told be about St. John the Baptist’s church in Adel, k 7 km north of Leeds city centre, which has been described by Pevsner as “One of the best and most complete Norman churches in Yorkshire”. 

A general view of the south elevation

Arriving on the No. 28 bus, after a 45 minute bus journey that passes through some attractive and affluent suburbs on its journey, the walk from the terminus to the church passes through a modern development and I didn’t get a look at the local building stone; however, the church is built in a yellowish medium grained sandstone, which is presumed to be from the underlying Huddersfield White Rock.

A general view from the south-west

Unlike all of the others that I have visited so far, St. John’s church, dated 1150 -1160, consists of just a nave and chancel and there have been few alterations to the structure over the years, with those in mediaeval times limited to the square headed windows on the south elevation - the chancel in the C14 and the nave in the C15. 

A detail of the west gable and the bellcote

The bellcote was renewed in 1839 and the roof restored in 1843 by R.D. Chantrell, who is best known for the rebuilding of Leeds Minster, with further restoration carried out in 1879, when the slit windows to the east and west ends were renewed with wider openings and the vestry added. 

The south portal

The most interesting features of the exterior are the south portal, the corbel-frieze and the east gable, which contain the most extensive set of Norman sculptures that I have seen to date and have attracted the attention of various academics, which have provided interpretations of them. 

A detail of the south portal

The south doorway is composed of four orders, with animals on the shafts and beakheads and chevrons on the arches but the medium grained sandstone used is highly weathered, which has mainly occurred after the original porch was removed in 1816, and its details are partially obscured by a thick coating of limewash

A detail of the sculpted gable to the south portal

The gable above is also highly weathered but the figure of Christ surrounded by the Four Evangelists - in the symbolic forms of a man, lion, ox and eagle - a lamb above and snakes with multiple heads can be distinguished. 

The frieze-corbel on the south elevation of the chancel

The corbel-frieze and east gable are composed of 78 crudely carved human heads, grotesques and animals, some in the form of twins, which still retain much of their original detail, although three of the heads are now missing.

A detail of the corbel-frieze

Saturday, 25 January 2020

St. Peter & St. Paul Eckington - Part 2

A view west along the nave to the tower

Having discovered that the church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Eckington wasn’t open on a Saturday, a few days later I took advantage of the regular Coffee Morning on a Tuesday morning to look around its interior. 

A view from the south door

Once inside, I immediately noticed that the north aisle is plastered, which obscures any evidence in the masonry which shows the difference in age of the east and west ends, but the stonework that blocks the north doorway is still exposed. 

The east window to the north aisle

At the east end of the north aisle, the organ chamber is separated from it by a Decorated Gothic window with reticulated tracery, which is C14 in date and is the only window in the church that remains from this period. 

A view east along the nave to the chancel

Looking eastward down the nave, the two eastern columns of the arcades are circular and are dated to the early C12, with the two western columns being octagonal and thought to have been built about fifty years later. 

An ornamented capital in the north arcade

Also, although the arches are of the same style, the two at the west end are slightly higher than those to the east and the capital to the easternmost column of the north aisle is the only one that has any decoration. 

The east respond of the south arcade

The later C12 extension of the nave coincided with the enlargement of the chancel and the building of the tower, both of which have very similar Early English Gothic arches. The east respond to the south aisle has a capital with crockets, which Pevsner relates to the chancel arch and attributes a late C12 date and being slightly earlier than the tower. 

Various finials

Wandering around the church, I came across various crocketed finials that once decorated the exterior of the church. These, along with castellated parapets, are normally associated with C15 Perpendicular Gothic additions and these were probably removed during the work undertaken in 1763, which is in Neo-Palladian style. 

The stairway to the rood loft and the hagioscope

On the south side of the chancel arch, there are the remains of a stairway leading to the rood loft and there is a double hagioscope on its north side – a feature that I have never seen before. 

The monument to George Sitwell and his wife Margaret

In the chancel, there are numerous memorials to the Sitwell family, with that to George Sitwell and his wife Margaret being the most elaborate, with figures carved in alabaster and an indeterminate dark stone used for plain surfaces. 

The monument to Sitwell Sitwell and his wife Caroline

The monument to Sitwell Sitwell and his wife Caroline, by White Watson, comprises a partial fluted column of Ashford Black marble, with a Corinthian capital of an indeterminate stone, with a tall Derbyshire crinoid marble plinth and a scrolled panel of white Carrara marble.

The plinth to the Sitwell Sitwell monument

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Vernacular Architecture in Eckington

Eckington War Memorial

On the occasion of my visit to the church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Eckington, the church wasn’t open, as stated on the now discontinued Diocese of Derby website, when I turned up at midday on a Saturday; however, it was a nice sunny day and so I was just content to have a look around the exterior and then head off to explore the historic architecture in the small town centre. 

The east elevation of The Rectory

Leaving the churchyard, a grey granite war memorial, in the form of a wheel cross stands on a small triangular green and on the opposite side of the road stands the late C18 Grade II* Listed Rectory, although I could only see this from a distance. 

The barn on Church Street

Heading south down Church Street, I soon came across a large single storey barn to the north-west of Malthouse Farmhouse, which dates back to the C16 and is built out of local iron stained Coal Measures sandstone. 

Views of 68 and 70 Church Street and Camms House

A little further on is Camms House, a mid C18 house built in similar local sandstone with a Welsh slate roof and is immediately next to 68 and 70 Church Street, which comprises a mid C18 house and shop partially rebuilt in brick and with a pantile roof. 

35 Church Street

On the opposite side of the road, 35 Church Street was formerly the guild house and dates back to the C16 or earlier. It is built in thin bedded, iron rich Coal Measures sandstone, with a Welsh slate roof, although parts of the rear of the building have been plastered. 

The former Angel Hotel

Entering the town centre, the former Angel Hotel on the corner of Market Street is quite surprising a Grade II Listed building. Built in local sandstone and partially rendered, with a Welsh slate roof, it doesn’t appear to me to have great architectural merit and it may have been chosen for its aesthetic contribution to the Conservation Area, which is quite extensive in Eckington. 

Various views of Eckington town centre

Passing through on the bus, the street pattern looked interesting and Victorian maps show that it had a well-developed centre but, when walking around, it soon became clear that its historic core – like Bolsover – had been substantially demolished and redeveloped with public and commercial buildings in the second half of the C20. 

Various houses on Southgate

With the library and very many shops being closed on a Saturday afternoon, I didn’t hang around the centre and instead went to have a quick look at Southgate, which is lined with sandstone buildings that date from the C19 and earlier. 

The former Chapel of the Annunciation of Our Lady

Continuing to the end of the built up area on Southgate, the former Chapel of the Annunciation of Our Lady is worth seeing, but the oldest building is Southgate Old House. Dating to the mid C17, its walls are built with iron rich laminated sandstone that are laid in thin courses, which can be seen in very many of the historic buildings in Eckington, and it is roofed in pantiles. 

A general view of Southgate Old House

The very large quoins on its south-west corner and the head and dressings to the south door are not made from the local Coal Measures sandstone but a red/purple medium grained stone, which looks very much like Rotherham Red sandstone.

A view of the south elevation of Southgate Old House