Monday, 30 March 2020

St. Peter & St. Paul Barnby Dun - Part 1

A general view from the south-east

My day out to Mansfield in the last week of August 2019 proved to be very productive and, apart from seeing a very interesting churches and many historic buildings, as a geologist I was able to get a good look at the sandy varieties of the Permian Cadeby Formation - which were once highly valued as building stones

Treeton to Barnby Dun as the crow flies

A couple of days later, my next trip involved a return to the lowlands to the north-east of Doncaster on the First Mainline No. 84 bus, to explore the church of St. Peter and St. Paul at Barnby Dun – on a Saturday that coincided with an Art and Craft Festival and the tower being accessible to the general public.

A geological map of the Borough of Doncaster

Being set near to the River Don, I expected that that this church would be largely built with dolomitic limestone from the Cadeby Formation quarried in the Don Gorge; however, with deposits of glaciofluvial and river terrace deposits nearby, I was hoping to see some cobbles – as at Kirk Sandall, Fishlake, Thorne and Hatfield.

A general view from the north-east

A quick walk around the exterior showed that, although a church was listed in Domesday Book, the oldest parts date back to the early C14, when the church was rebuilt in its entirety, with the tower being added c.1450 and the chancel completely rebuilt in 1860 by Hadfield and Goldie

The west elevation of the tower

It is built entirely in dolomitic limestone ashlar and, with its very well defined phases of construction, there isn’t a great deal to interest the archaeologist but there are some interesting features and architectural details. 

A general view along the north aisle

Starting at the west end, the tower has characteristic Perpendicular Gothic window tracery, buttresses, a castellated parapet, finials and gargoyles and contrasts in style with the symmetrical aisles to each side, which have early C14 Decorated Gothic windows. 

The west end of the north aisle

Continuing in a clockwise direction, the pattern of flat headed windows with reticulated tracery continues in the north aisle and, but those in the clerestory are pointed 2-light windows with cusps and quatrefoils. Looking closely at the stonework of the windows, the sharp profiles and the absence of a greyish patina are a good indication that they have been restored. 

The north aisle and clerestory

In most churches that I have visited to date, the clerestory was raised in the C15, with a low pitched roof being hidden with castellated parapets, and it is therefore interesting to see the steep pitched roof to the nave and plain parapets used here. 

Gargoyles on the north aisle

On the parapet of the north aisle, there are three very large gargoyles, which Pevsner describes as being “uncommonly bold and animatedly carved”, although these are now so deeply weathered that much of the detail can no longer be discerned. 

A niche with crockets on the north aisle

Various other carved details on the south elevation include a carved head on the tower and a niche with a crocketed ogee arch on the north aisle, which no longer contains a statue but a strange creature carved in relief can steel be seen on its base. 

A relief sculpture at the base of the niche

The Victorian chancel has reproduction Decorated Gothic arched windows and, although I didn't have the opportunity to examine the stonework very closely with a hand lens and test it with hydrochloric acid, a lot of the stonework, especially the window surrounds, has a pale orange/brown patina. This is more typical of Jurassic oolitic limestone, which was often used by Victorian architects when restoring mediaeval churches built with Permian dolomitic limestone.

The south elevation of the chancel

Saturday, 28 March 2020

St. Peter & St. Paul in Mansfield - Part 4

Various headstops on the arcades

After looking at the principal architectural elements of the interior of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Mansfield, I had a look at the various details that can be found – starting with the west window of the north aisle. 

The west window of the north aisle

On the exterior, it is possible to see several old dressings that once marked one or more former openings in the wall, now occupied by a C15 window. On the inside, to the left and right of the window, various voussoirs can be clearly seen but the dressings are indistinct. 

The C13 lancet window in the north aisle

In a publication by Canon A. H. Prior, vicar from 1903 to 1910, a plan shows that these are interpreted as two lancet windows although there are no clearly defined dressings, which are a feature of the adjacent C13 lancet window in the wall of the north aisle. 

The Wednesley Blackwall memorial

Also on the west of the north aisle, next to the C15 is a fine ornate wall memorial to Wendesley Blackwall, dated 1634. Built primarily of local Permian dolomitic sandstone that has been partially painted, the black central plaque with an inscription may be Ashford Black Marble – especially since the church had close connections with the Cavendish family. 

Grave slabs of former vicars at each side of the chancel arch

At the opposite end of the north aisle, next to the chancel arch, is a grave slab of Septimus Plumtre and, to the south side of the chancel arch next to the pulpit, there is another belonging to James Badger. These were both former vicars and, during a time of civil unrest in 1906, these were brought in from the churchyard. 

The east wall of the chancel

On the east wall of the chancel, which is considered to be in part Norman, there is another grave slab with a cross, a C15 ogee arched doorway and a triangular piscina. In the south chapel, a fragment of Norman masonry with chevrons is fixed in the wall and in the south aisle there is another piscina and an aumbry

Chevrons, a piscina and an aumbry

Further along the aisle, there is a large arched niche, which houses an effigy carved in White Mansfield stone, which is dated c.1350 and is thought possibly to be one of the Pierrepoint family and is described in detail by Canon Prior. 

The effigy in the south aisle

Moving back into the nave, the dolomitic limestone pulpit, with alabaster columns and dressings, is C19 in date and the font at the west end of the south aisle, which is also of late Victorian age, uses similar materials. 

The pulpit and font

Looking up at the C14 arcades, although the capitals are very simple and their form is quite plain, it is decorated on each side with headstops, which have crudely carved faces. 

A headstop and capital in the north arcade

I finished my exploration of the interior at the tower, where there is a concentration of wall monuments that date from the C18 onwards and which are designed in the Neoclassical style and are generally made with white and black marbles.

Various wall memorials in the tower

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, clearly defined dressings 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