Thursday, 30 April 2020

All Saints' Church Barwick-in-Elmet - III

A view east along the nave

Entering All Saint’s church in Barwick-in-Elmet, having had a good look at its exterior, I was disappointed to see that the stonework to the aisles, arcades and clerestory were plastered – leaving only the octagonal sandstone columns and arches exposed. 

The C15 tower arch

As with so many other restorations by Victorian architects, details of the masonry that might provide archaeological interest have been mainly covered and, after quickly photographing the principal architectural elements, I found a remnant of the old Norman wall behind the west end of the south arcade. 

A remnant of the masonry to the Norman nave

Although I didn’t manage to see the others, the position of the old nave is marked by large corner stones, which are bonded into the west walls of the chancel at its east end.

A plan from Barwick-in-Elmet Historical Society website

There are a few Neoclassical wall memorials on the aisle walls, made from various marbles, but their most interesting examples of stonework are, very surprisingly, hidden away between the pews and not clearly displayed. 

Fragments of C10 cross shafts

The two fragments of C10 cross shafts are considered to be important by Historic England and the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, with one of them possessing an interlace design of the Norwegian Viking Ringerike style and the other interpreted as Christ blessing children. 

The chancel arch

The chancel arch, which has carved responds, is described in the Historic England listing as being C19, but the church guide doesn’t mention this in its description of the work undertaken by George Fowler Jones and others. The only reference to the chancel arch is its reconstruction from 1250 to 1290, when the Norman chancel was built. 

The south wall of the chancel

Inside the chancel, all of the stonework is exposed and further examples of herringbone and rubble masonry can be seen, although heavy raised ribbon pointing undertaken with Portland cement detracts from its appearance. 

The blocked doorway in the chancel

On the south wall, the doorway was blocked during the 1856 restoration by Jones, and on the opposite wall there are a couple of interesting features. Firstly, there is a Norman slit window, whose wide splay emphasises the thickness of the walls and, secondly, the very ornate doorway to the vestry. 

The Norman window in the chancel

The vestry doorway has a depressed ogee lintel, with a Decorated Gothic hood mould, carved headstops of crowned kings, ornamentation with leaves and flowers and a fleur-de-lys like finial. 

The north wall of the chancel

The church guide refers to its date as being C15, which would be in the Perpendicular Gothic style; however, Pevsner described it as “curious” and that its "surround is so heavily detailed that it may well be a post-Reformation interpretation of the Decorated style".

A detail of the doorway to the vestry

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

All Saints' Church Barwick-in-Elmet - II

A general view from the north-east

The tower at All Saints’ church in Barwick-in-Elmet, dated c.1455, has some interesting Perpendicular Gothic style details that relate to the history of the village, but the north aisle and clerestory are relatively featureless. 

The north aisle and clerestory

They have square headed windows, with cusped lights and panel tracery above and, according to the comprehensive church guide, were built c.1380-90 when castellated parapets and gargoyles were not yet the fashion. 

Windows in the north aisle

Moving on to the chancel, standing back to try and get a good general view of the east end of the north elevation – where the vestry and boiler house have been built – I noticed that the masonry of the walling is very irregular. 

Anglo-Saxon herringbone masonry in the south chancel wall

A close look shows that there is a high proportion of herringbone masonry in the north wall, which is interpreted as Anglo-Saxon stonework that has been incorporated into the chancel, when the original church was rebuilt in the Norman style during the early C12. 

The east window of the chancel

The north window, which has renewed tracery, is in the Decorated Gothic style and, continuing past the early C19 vestry, built in dolomitic limestone, the east window of the chancel is seen to be of a similar Decorated style, with curvilinear tracery

A detail of lime mortar in the chancel

The chancel is dated to the C14 by Pevsner and the Historic England listing, although the church guide refers to the building of the current chancel arch between 1250 and 1290. It is built in local Carboniferous sandstone, with irregularly shaped and coursed blocks, but the original window dressings are dolomitic limestone. 

A sample of lime mortar

The masonry has been pointed at various times but, in places on the east end of the chancel, the original lime mortar is exposed. Even at some distance, a large proportion of black flecks can be seen against the background of white mortar, which look like coal when viewed with a hand lens. 

The south wall of the chancel

Much of the masonry of the south elevation of the chancel is obscured by a tree, but further herringbone masonry can be seen in the wall and the west window matches that of the north elevation, with most of its original limestone dressings still intact. 

A general view from the south-east

The south aisle and clerestory are similar to those of the north elevation, added in the C14, but the porch was added in the late C15 or early C16. Here, large blocks of yellowish massive sandstone, with distinctive cross-bedding, have been used.

The south aisle and porch

Saturday, 25 April 2020

All Saints' Church Barwick-in-Elmet - I

A view of All Saints' church from Main Street

Arriving in Barwick-in-Elmet on the Connexions No. 64 bus from Leeds, the first thing that caught my eye when getting off at the southern end of Main Street was the tower of All Saint’s church in the far distance, sticking out above the houses at the back of the playing fields.

Approaching All Saints' church from The Cross

When approaching All Saint’s church from the west along The Cross, it can be clearly seen that the lower section of the tower is built of dolomitic limestone from the Cadeby Formation, but the upper section is built in a massive Carboniferous sandstone.

A general view of the west elevation of the tower

When surveying mediaeval churches, I usually look for variations in the shape, size and coursing of the stones, which provide good clues to the various phases of building. Sometimes, as at St. Helen’s church in Treeton, this is marked by the use of a completely different stone.

Sandstone used in the top section of the tower

At Barwick-in-Elmet however, the tower was built during the C15 in essentially one phase, and the sudden change between dolomitic limestone to Carboniferous sandstone records a change of heart of one of the benefactors – Sir Henry Vasavour – who supplied stone from a quarry on his Hazlewood Castle estate.

The statue of Sir Henry Vasavour

All of the various features of the tower are Perpendicular Gothic in style and, although I couldn't see these, an inscription beneath the lower niche – in which Sir Henry Vasavour is depicted holding a block of stone – refers to the date of 1455.

The west door of the tower

Richard Burnham, the Rector at All Saints' church, paid for the completion of the church in a sandstone that looks like the Rough Rock, a coarse gritstone that outcrops around Leeds and which has been used extensively in historic buildings. The upper niche was dedicated to him but, since at least 1700, it has been empty.

A detail of the west door of the tower

This dolomitic limestone was also used at the time for repairs to York Minster, which was originally built of stone from the Huddlestone Quarry at Micklefield and these were both considered noteworthy by William Camden, when he wrote his celebrated work Britannia – originally published in Latin in 1586.

Weathering to the north-west buttress of the tower

With both quarries being just over 7 km away, as well as the underlying Cadeby Formation being quarried for the vernacular buildings in the village, it is perhaps surprising that the rest of the church is built in local Carboniferous sandstone - especially since the Conservation Area Appraisal describes it as being soft and the nearest old quarry, at Scholes, exploited mudstone from the Pennine Middle Coal Measures Formation strata to make bricks.

The north elevation of the tower

Saturday, 18 April 2020

An Exploration of Barwick-in-Elmet

Barwick-in-Elmet War Memorial

My first outing to take advantage of the Heritage Open Days festival in 2019, to Barnburgh, was very productive. In addition to a good exploration of the church and village, the discovery of yellow dolomitic limestone added to my knowledge of Yorkshire’s geology and building stones

From Treeton to Barwick-in-Elmet

The following day, having taken the train to Leeds several times earlier in the year, to prepare a field trip for the Sheffield U3A Geology Group and to visit the church of St. John the Baptist in Adel, I decided to visit All Saints’ church in Barwick-in-Elmet, which is approximately 10 km east of the city centre. 

An early lunch at Khao Gaeng Thai

After setting off early from Treeton, I arrived in Leeds with plenty of time to get a very early lunch at Khao Gaeng Thai before catching the Conexxions No.64 bus, which takes less than 25 minutes. As I will recount in a later post, this proved to be a very good decision.

A geological map of the area around Barwick-in-Elmet

Alighting at the south end of Main Street, with the village being set on the edge of the Magnesian Limestone escarpment, I expected to find most of the historic buildings constructed in local dolomitic limestone but, instead, I discovered that very many are rendered, with some built in Carboniferous sandstone and others with brick. 

Vernacular architecture on Main Street

There are only a handful of listed buildings in the centre of village, including the Grade II* church, and this includes the war memorial – which is built on the base of an old village cross – Lime Trees Farmhouse and Elmwood House, but I was unable to see the Old RectoryEven though most of the historic buildings are simple vernacular structures, they add great character to this attractive village, which has an extensive Conservation Area.

A view of the maypole and the Gascoigne Arms from Elmwood Lane

There is Britain’s second tallest maypole at the end of Main Street, where I then turned up Elmwood Lane to find the entrance to Hall Tower Hill, a Norman motte and bailey castle that was built at the southern end of a much larger Iron Age hillfort

Hall Tower Hill

Without having yet arrived at the church, I had already encountered very many points of architectural and historic interest and, when stopping to take a few photographs of the Methodist Church, dated 1900, I have subsequently wondered why it is not listed.

Barwick-in-Elmet Methodist Church

Built in what looks to be a local Carboniferous sandstone, with dolomitic limestone dressings, in my experience its offset turret/steeple is a very unusual feature and I am very surprised that it is not mentioned in my copy of Pevsner's guide to the West Riding of Yorkshire.

An overgrown embankment and ditch at Wendel Hill

I then carried on along The Boyle, to try and find the hillfort and, although I found the occasional very overgrown embankment and ditch, I quickly made my way back towards the church along Potterton Lane, where the older houses are built in limestone with red pantile roofs, with later Victorian terraced houses being built in sandstone with Welsh slate roofs.

Vernacular architecture on Potterton Lane

Thursday, 16 April 2020

St. Peter's Church in Barnburgh - Part 3

A wooden effigy of a knight in the Cresacre Chapel

Entering the porch of St. Peter’s church in Barnburgh, having explored its exterior, the first thing that I noticed were the robust transverse arches supporting the roof and a poster referring to the Legend of the Cat and Man, for which this church is probably best known.

Inside the porch

Passing through the south door, although receiving a very warm welcome, I was reminded that, sometimes, formal ‘open days’ are not always the best time to explore the interior of a church – as I had previously discovered at Ashover and Barnby Dun, earlier in the year. 

The font and Bella Aqua Chapel

With the Bella Aqua Chapel being full of displays and members of the Barnburgh and Harlington Local History Group, the font covered with knitted items and the chancel displaying various artwork, my investigtion was limited to the principal features in the church that I could easily see. 

A view east along the nave

The 2-bay arcades, dated to c.1200, are composed of round columns with octagonal capitals that have very simple mouldings, with double chamfered pointed arches springing from them. The spandrels and the clerestory comprise large ashlar blocks, with no obvious differences between them, which is unusual when the roofs are raised and new windows added. 

The blocked Norman window in the tower

Inside the tower, which has an unusual wooden freestanding spiral staircase to the bell ringing chamber, there is distinct reddening of the masonry - which otherwise is yellow limestone as seen in the exterior – and the infilled Norman splayed window gives a good indication of the thickness of the wall, when compared to its external dimensions. 

A view west along the nave from the chancel

The arch to the tower, together with the chancel arch, is considered to be typical of the Decorated Gothic style of c.1330, when the church underwent a major phase of rebuilding and both have semi-octagonal, simply moulded responds

The chancel

Adjacent to the chancel is the Cresacre Chapel, separated by a Gothic Revival arcade, with a twin shafted pier made out of Carboniferous Derbyshire crinoid marble and Permian dolomitic limestone capitals that have elaborate leaf decoration. 

A twin shafted pier made of crinoidal limestone

The chapel contains a very large buttressed and canopied chest tomb to Sir Percival Cresacre (d.1477), with much ornamentation and Latin inscriptions, which is made of dolomitic limestone that is typically pale cream in colour. 

The Cresacre Chapel

Placed inside it is an unusual effigy made of wood, which shows a knight with a conical helmet and plate armour and with a heart in his hands – thought possibly to be Sir Thomas Cresacre, who lived a century earlier. 

The tomb of Sir Percival Cresacre

At the west end of the north aisle, there is the remains of a Romanesque shaft – possibly from a preaching cross - which was found buried in the churchyard during the C19, in two pieces, and is sculpted with figures, acanthus leaves and a plait design.

The Romanesque shaft in the north aisle